By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
With five minutes to go, the Flyers were nursing a 3-1 lead and appeared poised to keep their season alive. In the way they have all series, the Islanders refused to go away. Two goals in 1:33 changed the game, erased the lead and forced overtime. It was Game 2 all over again, only this time, the Islanders could smell the Eastern Conference Finals.
But the Flyers are not dead yet. A point shot by Ivan Provorov was deflected by Scott Laughton and beat Semyon Varlamov to give the Flyers a 4-3 overtime win in Game 5 that keeps their season alive.
The Flyers came out with some good jump and got a few early scoring chances on Varlamov. Their best chance of the period came on an abbreviated power play, as Giroux's shot was stopped and Sean Couturier's rebound chance hit the post.
The Flyers certainly controlled the possession game in the opening period, but Varlamov was up to the task on all 11 shots he faced. The Islanders only took four shots on goal in the opening period, but a couple of them were tough ones for Carter Hart, who had to stop Jean-Gabriel Pageau with an aggressive save off a rush and had to make a couple more on a late-period power play.
The Islanders started the second period with the power play and took advantage of it with just 15 seconds left. Josh Bailey alertly got to a loose puck and banked it into the net off of Mathew Barzal as bodies piled up in the crease. The Flyers challenged for goalie interference, but it was determined that Barzal was pushed into Hart by Tyler Pitlick, allowing the goal to stand and putting the Flyers back on the penalty kill.
The Flyers killed the penalty and slowly worked their way back into the game as the period progressed, starting to get the better of the chances. With under five minutes to play in the period, they finally got on the board.
Phil Myers took a shot from the point that was deflected in by Giroux for his first goal of the playoffs to tie the game at one with 4:15 remaining in the period.
Less than three minutes later, the Flyers got a break and capitalized. A two-on-one between Laughton and van Riemsdyk was finished off as van Riemsdyk got on the board for the first time in the playoffs as well, giving the Flyers a 2-1 lead with 1:42 left in the second.
Moments later, the Flyers thought they had scored again, but after a long review, it was determined there was no goal on the play.
Through two periods, the Flyers had a 22-13 lead in shots.
The Flyers kept their foot on the gas early in the third, and did so without one of their top players. Following a knee-on-knee collision late in the second, Couturier was not on the bench to start the third and did not return to the game.
The Flyers pushed forward, getting an insurance goal at 4:32. A nice set-up from Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny allowed Niskanen to have room to fire a blast that beat Varlamov to make it 3-1.
The Islanders kept the foot on the gas, getting 10 of the next 11 shots following the Niskanen goal. With 4:14 left, they finally solved Hart to cut the lead to one. Brock Nelson got off a quick shot from the slot to make it a 3-2 game.
Just 93 seconds later, the Islanders showcased the will to work that never keeps them out of a game. With both fourth lines on the ice, Cal Clutterbuck outworked Nate Thompson and got the puck to the front of the net for Derick Brassard, who scored to tie the game at three with 2:41 remaining.
That forced overtime, and both teams had some great chances early. Hayes was stopped by Varlamov on a cross-ice pass. Hart made big saves on Devon Toews and Nelson on odd-man rushes.
The Flyers also had a power play in the overtime, but struggled to get anything going during the man advantage.
Finally at 12:20, the Flyers struck. Following an icing call on the Islanders, the Flyers gained possession and never allowed them to clear the zone. The puck was worked back to Provorov, who let go a shot that was deflected in front by Laughton and beat Varlamov to win the game.
Hart finished the game with 29 saves on 32 shots in the win. Varlamov made 28 saves on 32 shots in the loss.
That sets the stage for Game 6, which will be on Thursday. Game time is 7 p.m.