Postgame Perspective: Resilient Flyers overcome adversity again


On this Sunday night, the strange game of hockey threw everything and the kitchen sink at the Flyers.

Once again, a resilient bunch proved why they are making a case for the playoffs.

The Flyers had to overcome several controversial calls, an early challenge for the penalty kill and, last but not least, a shootout but did it all to come away with a 2-1 win over the Red Wings

"It's an important win for our team," head coach Dave Hakstol said. "Our guys have continued to battle hard for one another and that's what this was about tonight. Our guys just kept battling hard for one another and found a way."

The Flyers had to find a way many times in this game. Dealing with a goalie duel, the Flyers managed to get the equalizer early in the third after the Red Wings had scored a controversial goal late in the second.

A shot by Niklas Kronwall went in after hitting Radko Gudas and floating high up and over Michal Neuvirth. Replays showed that Neuvirth's glove was interfered with by Darren Helm. Hakstol challenged. The call stood.

Enter the Flyers two top-line leaders. Jake Voracek and Claude Giroux teamed up for the game-tying goal at 4:24 of the third. 

Given a 5-on-3 for 1:36 at the midway point of the third, a hard shot by Shayne Gostisbehere leaked through Petr Mrazek. Jonathan Ericsson played it back under the goalie, but the puck was never covered. Dave Jackson blew play dead before Wayne Simmonds found it to score. The game remained tied.

Then in the closing seconds, a turnover led to a breakaway for Sean Couturier. He was hooked down without getting a true attempt on goal. Instead of a penalty shot, the Flyers were given the two-minute power play.

No matter, the Flyers would have nearly two minutes at 4-on-3 in overtime at that rate. Only off the face-off, Gostisbehere got the puck and fired a shot on goal. It went in with one second left. Ghislain Hebert waved it off immediately. 

The call was justified. Simmonds jumped up in an effort to screen Mrazek and potentially deflected any shot, making contact with Mrazek's head in the process. It was going to be hard to overturn that. But the officials also added a two-minute goalie interference penalty, ending the Flyers power play.

Play went on through overtime with very little activity and the game headed to the dreaded shootout where the Flyers had been stymied on Saturday afternoon. They fell behind, 1-0, before goals from Giroux and Voracek gave them the win and the two points.

"It was a tough emotional game, let's be honest," Voracek said. "We were obviously pretty upset that goal got disallowed. But we knew we had five minutes in front of us in the overtime. We knew we had to stick with it and Neuvy did a great job. He shut the door in overtime and the shootout. It's huge playing back-to-back games in a tough building, I think that's the best team we've played so far."

"They're a really good team, one of the fastest teams we've played this year," Giroux said. "It was a good test for us to play a fast team like that. At one point during the game, they were all over us and we kind of slowed down the way we were playing and said just go back to the basics."

At a point in the season where the Flyers need wins and points, particularly against their Eastern Conference foes, the Flyers have picked up points in the first six games of that stretch with wins in five. With 11 out of 12 points in that time, the Flyers have climbed to within two points of the final wildcard spot with three games in hand.

In a stretch that was going to make or break their season, the Flyers are making it happen night in and night out. Sunday's win further proved their drive for the playoffs is certainly alive and well.

They may not be in prime position yet, still on the outside looking in for the playoffs. But if Sunday's win was any indication, throw whatever you can at them. They don't seem to mind the challenge.

"There's a lot of technical rules that are in place there. They watched the video and they made a call. And we live with that," Hakstol said. "It's a fast game and a tough game to officiate and there's a lot of things happening. I think all night long, we just moved on to the next play. They've got a tough job to do and we've got to do our job."

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

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