PITTSBURGH – Shayne Gostisbehere could only marvel at the performances of some of his veteran teammates in Friday night’s stay-alive 4-2 win over the Penguins.
Sean Couturier, of course, was the headliner.
But Michal Neuvirth, Valtteri Filppula and Claude Giroux – all in or about to become members of the “30’’ Club – made their mark at PPG Paints Arena.
Don’t think for a moment young players such as Gostisbehere, Travis Konecny and the like didn’t notice.
“I don’t think a lot of people counted us in for this game,’’ Gostisbehere said. “It showed the character of this team, guys stepping up in huge ways. Neuvy hasn’t come in and played a full game in a while — Coots, enough said.
“What he did, he was a warrior tonight and obviously our MVP. It was a gutty win. Just him (Couturier) being out there was huge. The penalty kill (5 for 5) was phenomenal.’’
Couturier’s long shot found its way past Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray with just a buck-15 to play.
“I was just trying to keep it in and get it through,’’ Couturier explained. “Create a rebound. Luckily it may have hit one of their guys (defenseman Brian Dumoulin). . .lucky bounce but we’ll taken ‘em.’’
Couturier only played 16:55, down nearly eight minutes from his average in the series, but was effective when he needed to be.
He led a penalty kill that kept Pittsburgh off the board for all five power plays.
Giroux said he was relieved to get that no-goals monkey in 11 playoff games off his back and also appreciated the inspiration provided by Couturier and friends.
“It’s pretty impressive,’’ Giroux said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for that guy (Couturier). He’s one of our leaders. You can put him in any situation. That’s impressive.’’
As for the goal, a sigh of relief. He hadn’t scored in the postseason since 2014.
“It was great,’’ he said. “You start overthinking it, trying to do too much. We celebrated, I was shocked. It feels good.’’
Coach Dave Hakstol pushed the right buttons in this game. The Flyers are now 2-1 in Pittsburgh, 0-2 in Philadelphia. That has to change or the Flyers will still start their summer early.
He rolled the dice a bit with Neuvirth.
“He played well,’’ Hakstol said. “Neuvy did the job tonight. He stepped up. He and Moose (Brian Elliott) have been a good tandem this year. Neuvy looked sharp in practice. He went in the other night and got some game action, even though he hadn’t been in the net a lot, he had the opportunity to get into this series.
“He was the right choice for tonight’s game. He’s done it all year for us, at the right time, played a big game for our team, and we needed that for tonight.’’
Can they duplicate this performance back at the Wells Fargo Center?
“We had our mind on bringing this series back home,’’ Hakstol said. “Our players went out and played that way. Our competitive level was high tonight, we didn’t do that at home (in losses in Game 2 and 3).’’