Shayne Gostisbehere lifts Flyers in overtime
Flyers win Black Friday matinee over the Predators, 3-2
FLYERS POWER-PLAY coach Joe Mullen isn't on the bench during games. He sits upstairs in the press box. So when the Flyers need to draw something up on the fly, it is done without the Hall of Fame right winger who scored 150 power-play goals over a 16-year career.
Friday, in a four-on-three overtime situation, it was captain Claude Giroux using the whiteboard after coach Dave Hakstol called timeout.
He drew up a play similar to one the Flyers used Monday night in overtime, and got the same result, a Shayne Gostisbehere one-timer off a pass from Giroux for a 3-2 overtime win. The goal came with 52 seconds left before a shootout would have been necessary.
Monday against Carolina, Giroux said he was prepared for a similar play, but forgot it before being reminded before the faceoff that led to the winning goal. This time, he made sure to write it in marker.
"Joey does a good job of making sure that we're ready for the game," Giroux said. "We're just going over the plays and making sure that we're all on the same page."
They all were, down to Wayne Simmonds providing a crucial screen on Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne.
"We might have to switch it up here," Giroux joked.
"It's the same play," Gostisbehere said with a laugh. "It was a great play by 'G.' "
Also similarly to Monday, the Flyers put themselves in the overtime situation by giving up a late goal. Monday, it was two goals in the final 12 minutes to send the game past regulation. Friday, the backbreaker came with only 20 seconds left.
After scoring the game's go-ahead goal five minutes into the third period, the Flyers got caught standing around in their defensive end, and Nashville forward Mike Fisher was able to put a rebound past Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth - who made 33 saves - on a second-effort play in a scramble by the crease.
"They got a puck to the net and they won the battle on that puck," Hakstol said. "Their guy made a really good desperation play on the rebound."
"We kind of put it on ourselves there, giving up the late goals," Gostisbehere said. "It just shows how our team is just fighting for two points, no matter what."
It was a tough goal to give up, considering the way the Flyers went ahead. During their recent stretch without scoring, the Flyers all talked about needed "greasy" and "dirty" goals.
They got that when Colin McDonald, who was called up Wednesday from the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms, put the puck past Rinne at 4:57 of the third. McDonald took advantage of a loose puck on the side of the net after Evgeny Medvedev - playing for the first time after being a healthy scratch the last six games - got a puck to the net through traffic.
The goal stood up for 14 minutes, 23 seconds, and only 20 seconds shy of standing up as the winner.
McDonald, 31, who is the captain of the Phantoms, later got in a fight in the third period and was cut.
"I understand my role at this level," McDonald said. "My role is a little bit different in the American League. I have some experience in this league at that fourth-line role."
The Flyers' first goal came when Michael Del Zotto joined a rush and was fed a pass across the slot from Brayden Schenn. Del Zotto made no mistake with a wrist shot over Rinne's glove four minutes in.
Del Zotto's goal was the Flyers' first at even strength in a stretch that spanned 261:58.
"I don't really look for turning points, but I thought that was a huge point in the game for us," Hakstol said of Del Zotto's goal. "I also thought Neuvy's save (shorthanded in the second period). Those two stand out for me."
The Predators (12-6-4) scored the game's first goal only 1:44 into the contest. With defensemen Nick Schultz and Luke Schenn confused as to who would take the puck-possessor behind the Flyers' net, Mike Ribeiro was allowed to freely pass the puck to a wide-open Filip Forsberg in front. Forsberg easily beat Neuvirth with a one-timer up high.
But the Flyers (8-10-5) quickly equalized and then had to fight their way to a second point. At this point in the season, they'll take them any way they can.
On Saturday against the Rangers, they'll have another chance at their first pair of back-to-back wins since Oct. 24, when they also beat the Rangers.