Flyers left winger Oskar Lindblom, cancer-survivor, didn’t return to the lineup Sunday night for the first time since he faced Ottawa on Dec. 7.
But he did give the team an emotional lift by taking part in their pregame skate before the Flyers faced the Islanders in Game 4 of their conference semifinal Sunday night in Toronto.
In other words, he is close to returning.
“He’s working extremely hard right now to get back to game shape and game conditioning after what he went through,” coach Alain Vigneault said after the Flyers lost to the Islanders, 3-2.
Vigneault, whose team faces a 3-1 series deficit, would not say whether Lindblom would play in Game 5 on Tuesday night.
The Flyers’ offense has struggled in this series. They have scored just three goals, total, in their three playoff losses to the Isles. In the first four games, they have a total of one goal in the second and third periods.
Lindblom, diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer, finished chemotherapy treatments in early July. At the time he left the team in December, Lindblom had 11 goals, tied for the team lead.
The Sweden native joined the team at their morning skate in Toronto on Aug. 16 -- a day after he turned 24 -- and led the stretches. He got loud, welcoming stick taps from his teammates.
“The coaches were almost in tears,” Vigneualt said that day. “... Today was all about Oskar and the excitement to have him back with our group.”
He hopes to again give them a lift before this playoff series is finished.
Was the Islanders’ key goal against the Flyers on Saturday night another phantom score, like the one that helped them beat Philadelphia in the 1980 Stanley Cup Finals?
If you are of a certain age, you probably still cringe when you hear linesman Leon’s Stickle’s name.
But this “offside” goal was different.
To those looking at Tom Lamaine’s screenshot photo below, it appears Derick Brassard was offside on the sequence that led to the eventual game-winning goal by the Islanders’ Leo Komarov on Saturday night. The goal, scored with 5.1 seconds left in the second period, gave New York a 2-1 lead.
The Isles won, 3-1, and took a 2-1 series lead in the conference semifinals.
Brassard’s feet were clearly outside the offensive zone, but he gloved the puck inside the zone and was therefore onside, according to former NHL referee Paul Stewart.
“I looked at it when it happened,” Vigneault said in a Zoom call with reporters Sunday afternoon. “Our video personnel were checking it very closely. Without a doubt for them, it wasn’t offside. When I was looking at it, it was not offside. It was the right call.”
In a surprising move, both coaches went with their backup goalies on Sunday night for Game 4. The Flyers used Brian “Moose” Elliott, and the Islanders went with Thomas Greiss.
Three goals went off Hart and into the net in the Flyers’ 3-1 loss on Saturday.
Playing on back-to-back nights, Vigneault said, figured into his decision to play Elliott.
“Both our goaltenders all year long have played extremely well for us,” Vigneault said. “Played a lot of big games and won us some big games. ... I just felt a fresh Brian would give us the chance to win.”
Elliott (30 saves) was very good in Sunday’s 3-1 loss, and he was outstanding in the first period.