The Islanders went into this series as the stingiest team in the postseason, but the Flyers scored five more goals on Semyon Varlamov and remain alive. It’s been quite a series.
Here are some observations from Game 6.
The hero. Ivan Provorov scored the game-winner in the second overtime as the Flyers stayed alive despite being outshot 53-31. The key to the play was Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield breaking his stick and Kevin Hayes making him pay for it. It was the first overtime game-winner of Provorov’s career.
What’s next? The best two words in sports are “World Champions.” After that, it’s “Game Seven,” and that’s just where the Flyers and Islanders are headed. It’ll be Saturday night at 7:30 on NBC, right after the Kentucky Derby.
Our three stars. Ivan Provorov, Mathew Barzal, Kevin Hayes. The official three stars were Carter Hart, Provorov, Barzal.
Hot Laughton. Scott Laughton, who won Game 5 in overtime, remained on the top line in place of Sean Couturier, and scored a beautiful breakaway goal to make it 4-4, which forced the overtime.
Look who’s back. Oskar Lindblom rejoined the lineup for the first time since Dec. 8 and his return gave the Flyers an initial burst, but it wasn’t enough. Lindblom, diagnosed in December with Ewing’s sarcoma, completed chemotherapy in July and was a surprise inclusion on the Flyers postseason roster.
Roster roulette. Lindblom and Michael Raffl replaced Sean Couturier and Joel Farabee in the lineup. Lindblom started with Derek Grant and Tyler Pitlick on the fourth line. Linblom played 17:30, recording two hits and a blocked shot.
Challenged by challenges. Bad challenge by Alain Vigneault on the Islanders’ second goal. Casey Cizikas was tripped by Justin Braun and slid into Carter Hart simultaneous with a shot by Matt Martin. The goal was upheld and the Islanders scored on the power-play. Vigneault is 0-3 on replay challenges this series.
Where’s the power? The Flyers failed on four more power-play attempts and are now 0-11 in the series. Even more discouraging is they had 6:42 of power-play time on Thursday and had only one power-play shot.
Pocket picked. Deflating goal at the end of the second period when Travis Sanheim had the puck stolen by Derick Brassard which Mathew Barzal quickly blasted by Carter Hart. Fortunately, Laughton came through with the only goal in the third. Barzal, who had to leave Game 5 after taking an inadvertent stick to the face, was again a menace all night.
Key sequence. Raffl, who was with Nate Thompson and Nic Aube-Kubel, had missed three games. He banged home the Flyers third goal shortly after they survived a full 90 seconds of Islanders pressure in front of Carter Hart.
Heavy Hart. Hart was remarkable. Not easy to give up four goals and still be one of the game’s best players, but Hart made a career-high 49 saves. As @LVShannyLeigh noted on Twitter, “This team does not deserve Carter Hart.”
Line dancing. The line of Mathew Barzal, Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle had 21 shots on goal, two went in.
Big boy shot. Looked like James van Riemsdyk surprised New York’s Semyon Varlamov with a slapshot from the top of the faceoff circle for the Flyers second goal. During the season, van Riemsdyk stopped a 12-game goal-less streak with six in 11 games. He hadn’t scored in the Flyers first 11 games up in Toronto, but has now scored in the last two.
Not smart Nic. The Flyers’ first-period momentum was stymied when Nic Aube-Kubel took a needless slashing penalty on Anders Lee in the neutral zone with 5:30 left. The Islanders scored on the power-play and spent the rest of the period in their own zone. “Not a penalty you want to take up two goals in the first period. Everything’s going right, and things can turn in the other direction in a hurry when you take penalties like that,” NBC analyst Keith Jones said presciently.
The final word. “It’s pretty amazing what he’s gone through. How much he’s overcome and persevered. For him to be here with us, we’re so thankful and so happy.”
-- Carter Hart on the return of teammate Oskar Lindblom