By JAY BOEHMER Senior Hockey Insider — email@example.com _______
The Flyers overcame an unimpressive start by Sergei Bobrovsky and a three goal deficit to force the game into overtime before losing in a shootout to Eastern Conference rival Washington Capitals.
Even without stars Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green, the Capitals notched the game’s first three goals – two in the first and one in the second – and had the Flyers on their heels.
But the Flyers didn’t sit back for long. Down by such a gap with nearly 40 minutes left to play, they turned to some high-risk, high-reward hockey, and it paid off.
Defensemen jumped up and kept plays alive in the offensive zone while the forwards played a hugely aggressive style. It didn’t take long for this to break through and put the Flyers on the board.
Soon before the mid-point of the second, Andreas Nodl crashed the net and took a Capitals defender with him, causing a Kris Versteeg pass to bounce in past goaltender Michal Neuvirth.
In the final minute of the period, Nodl found Claude Giroux on the far side of the net for a fake-shot-pass that had Neuvirth paralyzed and left Giroux with a whole net to slam it in.
Nodl got one of his own in the third before Danny Briere put home the go-ahead goal, giving the Flyers a 4-3 lead.
But Brian Boucher, who held the Capitals scoreless after coming in for Sergei Bobrovsky, couldn’t stop a Marcus Johansson slap shot to tie the game.
After overtime, Boucher found himself facing a series of shootout shooters against which he was helpless. Ville Leino and Danny Briere scored at the other end, but with Boucher allowing goals against all three Capitals’ shooters, the Flyers fell short.
Overall, the game was one of their best in a while. Mike Richards thought his team’s effort after falling behind was “encouraging,” and commended their ability to play sixty minutes.
Peter Laviolette agreed, noting the game’s playoff-like atmosphere.
“I saw them play a good hockey game,” Laviolette said. “I thought we had our best game in a while. The guys were motivated and there was lots of energy. The building was alive and it was a different atmosphere for everybody.”
A key to that play was the line of Andreas Nodl, Jeff Carter, and Claude Giroux.
Giroux and Nodl had some shifts that could have been highlight reels of their own.
On his third period goal, the 24 year-old Nodl not only beat Neuvirth with the shot once he got open in front, but also caused the turnover that got him the puck with a huge hit on the forecheck.
After being a healthy scratch for nearly two weeks, Nodl has been in the lineup for the last two games. With Jody Shelley out, Nodl’s spot is less contended, and that kind of comfort may bring him further success.
Nodl’s teammates were glad to see him get his chance at success.
Danny Briere said that it was good to see Giroux and Nodl play the way they did and turn the game around with their second period play.
“That was a great game, and their line got us going,” he said. “Lot’s of good cycle, especially in the second period.”
The Flyers may not have gotten the two points, but they held onto first and played the kind of game that would get them a win almost every other night. To take that away is more than enough.
But despite the team’s quality play and strong drive, it was a lack of strength in goal that caused them to fall. And that can cause some concerns.