Postgame Perspective: Flyers show fight, roll into break with clutch win


As Magnus Paajarvi slid a shot past Steve Mason on a breakaway to give the St. Louis Blues a 3-0 lead just shy of the midway point on Monday night's game, it appeared the Flyers recent run of momentum would come crashing to a screeching halt, just as they were about to enter a nearly week-long break.

On that goal, Mason made a poor effort to stop what seemed to be a certain goal regardless. Five seconds later, Claude Giroux took a careless penalty off the face-off. The Flyers appeared to have mailed it in.

But on the penalty kill, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare got a turnover and went in on a shorthanded breakaway. He was stoned by Jake Allen, but Chris VandeVelde followed up to put in the rebound. 2:10 later, Wayne Simmonds scored his first of two goals to cut the lead to one. There was life. The momentum had swung.

As they did on Saturday, the Flyers managed to tie the game in the third. This time, they made sure they got the two points by finishing the job in regulation, with Evgeny Medvedev's go-ahead goal with 3:13 remaining.

The Flyers 4-3 comeback win capped a month of renewed spirit and fight from the Flyers, who have managed to prove they may just have the makings of a team that can compete with anybody.

"Guys kept fighting," head coach Dave Hakstol said. "I think that’s what it says. We didn’t have a great first, we created most of our own problems. I think that probably goes without saying, but we had it going a little bit in the second period. We gave up the third goal the way we did sometimes that can be the nail in the coffin. Guys kept scrapping and a minute later big play by [Bellemare] to create the shorthanded opportunity that got us into the right direction."

"We didn’t want to go into the break on a losing note and we thought that we’ve been playing really well and good hockey as of late and I thought it was only right for us to go into the break with a win," Simmonds said. "We channeled our inner strength and we got the win, the two points, it was big for us."

This was the third time in two weeks the Flyers faced a two-goal deficit past the halfway point of the game. On Dec. 8, against the New York Islanders, and again on Saturday, Dec. 19, against the Columbus Blue Jackets, they earned a point with a comeback in the third, but fell short of the second in shootouts.

There would be no shootout on Monday night. 

In a third period that saw both teams get chances after Simmonds' equalizer just 51 seconds into the period, the Flyers stayed the course. They had to battle for possession at times and escape the pressure of a dangerous St. Louis offense as the game drew closer to overtime. 

A hard-working shift by the fourth line set up Medvedev's winner. Simmonds scored twice. Jake Voracek and Shayne Gostisbehere assisted on both of Simmonds goals. The Flyers climbed the mountain with a short-handed goal, an even-strength two-on-one goal, a power-play goal and a fourth-line goal. A total team effort and it doesn't get much more diverse than that.

"I think we’ve been better as of late in the thirds," Simmonds said. "Never say die, anything can happen in this league. You put one at the net and it goes in, it’s only a matter of a couple of shots sometimes and as long as we’re determined at that point in the game we’ll be fine here.”

The comeback win brought the Flyers December record to 6-2-2. From their first game post-Thanksgiving on Black Friday to their final game pre-Christmas on Monday, the Flyers are 8-2-2 and playing some of their most consistent hockey in years.

"It starts with our leaders, Jake, G, and Simmer," Gostisbehere said. "They let us know, just calm down and that there was no need to freak out. That’s what we’ve been doing and trying not to dig ourselves into a hole from the beginning, but we’ve definitely been doing better as of late."

Dec. 1 is usually the marker for potential playoff teams. If you're not in the playoff picture then, it's a difficult climb to get back there without a lot of help, luck and a huge turnaround. If not by the start of December, then definitely by the time the NHL breaks for Christmas.

Before their back-to-back wins on Black Friday and the Saturday following, the Flyers had a 7-10-5 record and 19 points, seventh in the Metropolitan Division and a mere one point from being the bottom feeders of the Eastern Conference.

After Monday's win, they now have a 15-12-7 record and 37 points. What a difference a month makes.

"You don’t automatically flip a switch and change some of those little things but they are being addressed on the bench by the players," Hakstol said. "Most importantly there’s an effort in that shift to go out and do things the right way. That’s probably the biggest thing that I sense. Guys know the way we want to play and they go out and do that together.”

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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