Flyers win, take first playoff series since 2012

Kevin Hayes
      It wasn’t exactly a work of art but the Flyers weren’t worried about style points, just results.
      And the final outcome was very good for them, a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night, giving them a 4-2 triumph in the best-of-seven playoff series.
      The victory marks the Flyers’ first postseason series win since 2012.
      The Flyers will play the New York Islanders in the next round, which could open possibly Sunday or Monday  at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
      Goaltender Carter Hart bounced back from a four-goal below-par performance in Game 5 to record the win. He allowed just the two goals, both by Nick Suzuki, one of them on the power play. And he needed to be at his best because the Flyers’ team defense was downright porous at time.
      However, the Flyers scored the first two goals in this game and never looked back, although things got pretty tight in the third period. Philadelphia held a 3-2 lead after two periods and were 29-0-2 when leading after two periods during the regular season.
      Ivan Provorov, Kevin Hayes and Michael Raffl scored for the Flyers. Raffl had what turned out to be the winner.
      Coach Alain Vigneault was wearing a big smile, perhaps one of relief, as he sat down to do a Zoom call after the game.
      “It was a hard-fought series,’’ Vigneault said. “Getting into the playoffs in the NHL is not easy. Once you’re in, I believe every team has a legitimate chance at winning.
      “I knew it was going to be a tough battle and it was from start to finish.’’
      Player reaction to the series win took on a similar tone. Montreal was the lowest seed in the East but certainly didn’t play like one.
      “It’s pretty special,’’ said Shayne Gostisbehere. “Provy and I have been in the playoffs before and we didn’t get too far. It’s pretty fun to get a series win but we’re not done. Just a feather in our hat right now, we’re going to keep going.’’
      Provorov had to be at his best for Game 6 because his partner, Matt Niskanen, was suspended. Provorov was paired with Gostisbehere.
      “It’s great to get the first one out of the way,’’ Provorov said. “But we’re not done. We’re going to continue to get better, continue to play our game. Go as far as we can.’’
      Provorov scored the Flyers’ fifth power-play of the series just 28 seconds into the game. His long shot appeared to nick off defenseman Shea Weber and goalie Carey Price was handcuffed.
      Hayes made it 2-0 at 5:23. A power play had just ended when Shayne Gostisbehere skated the puck into the Montreal end. Hayes wound up with the puck in the left corner. He tried an entry into the slot but the puck deflected off the skate of Montreal’s Artturi Lehkonen and past Price.
      Of the five Flyers with more than 19 goals in the regular season but none in the playoffs, Hayes was the first to crack the ice.
      Hayes finished the game with a goal, an assist and a plus-3. He was voted No. 1 star by the NBC national broadcast team.
      “We need to get back to playing the way we were before the series,’’ Hayes said. “I don’t think we’re playing bad. They’re a tough team. It speaks volumes for our team that we didn’t play up to our capabilities and we still got four wins.’’
      A bad penalty to Phil Myers led to Suzuki’s first goal at 10:03.
      The Flyers then took a 3-1 lead when Travis Sanheim launched a shot which Raffl got a piece of at 4:28 of the second period.
      But Montreal responded at 6:06. Hart mishandled the puck behind the net and Jonathan Drouin won a battle with Sanheim. Drouin’s pass across the low slot found Suzuki open for an easy shot into the net.
      The Canadiens had a clear edge in play in the second period.
      During a second intermission interview on NBCSN, Hayes said: “They’re playing tight defense, we need to get more pucks to the net,’’ Hayes said. “We can’t score if we don’t do that.’’
      The Flyers held on in the third period and Hart turned in another worthy effort.
      >Short shots
      James van Riemsdyk returned to the lineup after a couple games off as a healthy scratch while rookie Connor Bunnaman was scratched. . .Gostisbehere was paired for much of the game with Provorov. . .The Flyers went a stretch of 9:28 without a shot in the second period. . .The Flyers were without top pair defenseman Matt Niskanen, who was suspended for this game due to his cross-check on Brendan Gallagher in Game 5, resulting in the Montreal player suffering a broken jaw.
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About Wayne Fish 2451 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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