After a pair of losses in back-to-back weekend games, the Philadelphia Flyers will be fighting for their lives when they take to the ice at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Tuesday. Heading into Game 5, the Flyers trail the New York Islanders 3-1 in their second-round playoff series and are facing elimination.
Game 3 Review
Coming off a 4-3 overtime win that leveled the series in Game 2, the Flyers started well in Game 3 on Saturday. They took a first-period lead off Tyler Pitlick’s second goal of the playoffs.
— Jeff Skversky 6abc (@JeffSkversky) August 30, 2020
The Islanders took control in the second period, outshooting Philadelphia 15-6 and beating Carter Hart for a pair of goals. Leo Komarov scored what proved to be the game winner when he squeezed a backhand through Hart’s legs with just six seconds left in the middle frame.
The game was penalty free until early in the third, when Robert Hagg got whistled for a slash on Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The Islanders pounced on the power play when Anders Lee connected for his sixth of the playoffs. It was an insurance goal that effectively put the game out of reach for the offense-starved Flyers.
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Game 4 Review
Hart was not as sharp as we’ve seen him on Saturday. So, coach Alain Vigneault elected to turn to Brian Elliott for the second half of the back-to-back on Sunday. It was the first start for the 35-year-old since he backstopped his team to a 3-1 round-robin win over the Washington Capitals on August 6. Elliott’s only other postseason appearance was on August 14, in relief of Hart against Montreal.
Arguably the best moment of Game 4 for Flyers fans was warmup. Oskar Lindblom joined his teammates in another big step on his road back to action after going through treatment for the rare form of cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma.
Wow. Oskar Lindblom is skating with his teammates in warmups!
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) August 30, 2020
In the battle of the backups, Elliott played well. The teams went to their dressing rooms scoreless after a first period that saw the Islanders outshoot the Flyers 18-7. In the second, Philadelphia took control with a 17-3 shot advantage but the clubs traded goals — Brock Nelson’s fourth of the playoffs for New York, followed by Sean Couturier’s second when he beat Thomas Greiss.
In the third, the patient Islanders built a 3-1 lead off of Pageau’s seventh of the playoffs and the second of the game from Nelson. With Elliott on the bench, a late tally from Ivan Provorov brought the Flyers within one, but they’d get no closer.
In Game 4, Philadelphia outshot the Islanders for the first time in the series, 38-33, and those 38 shots were the most they’ve managed in any game in this postseason. Claude Giroux tied Joel Farabee for the team lead with five shots, a postseason high for him. The frustration is becoming more and more evident as both he and regular-season scoring leader Travis Konecny continue to search for their first goals.
Game 5 Preview
Expect to see Carter Hart back in net for Game 5.
Carter Hart will start tonight. He is 7-4 with a 2.08 GAA, and a .931 Save Percentage. #Flyers
— Jamey Baskow (@JameyBaskow) September 1, 2020
On the other side, Islanders coach Barry Trotz hasn’t tipped his hand with respect to his starter. Either way, his options are good. Semyon Varlamov has a 1.69 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in this postseason. In his two appearances, Greiss is now at 1.68 and .949.
If the opportunity to keep their season alive isn’t enough inspiration for the Flyers to come out strong in Game 5, maybe they can do it for #OskarStrong?
AV on Oskar Lindblom’s availability: “Oskar will take warmup tonight but I think we’re still a few days away here. I think he’s closing in. He skated with us this morning. He’s in the gym. I’ve rarely seen a young man put himself through what he’s putting himself through.”
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) September 1, 2020
Back From The Brink?
In the NHL, the odds of coming back from a 3-1 deficit are less than 10 percent. It has happened just 29 times out of 313 such situations, and teams in that spot went 0-for-6 in this year’s first round.
But Alain Vigneault guided his New York Rangers out of a 3-1 hole against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2014 — and did the same one year later against a Washington Capitals team that was coached by Barry Trotz.
Kevin Hayes was on that 2015 roster. He’s one of several Flyers players who have played on teams that have overcome the long odds. Justin Braun was on the San Jose Sharks squad that came back to stun the Vegas Golden Knights last year. Giroux and James van Riemsdyk were both part of the 2010 Flyers group that came back from a 3-0 deficit in the second round. They knocked out the Boston Bruins on the way to the Stanley Cup Final.
“Right now, probably not a lot of people are going to give us a chance,” Vigneault said on Monday. “What we have to do is not focus on the big task but focus on that game that night.”
“This is a great opportunity, I think, for our leadership group to change the narrative, change their legacy here.”
Game 5 goes Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and CBC.