Some teams might have packed it up and called it a day after coughing up a three-goal lead, the last of those with only 2:09 to play.
But not the Flyers.
After watching a first-period 3-0 margin slowly dissolve, including a J-G Pageau goal in the closing minutes, the Flyers scored on a goal by Phil Myers at 2:41 into overtime for a 4-3 win at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
The win evens the best-of-seven series at 1-1. Game 3 is scheduled for Thursday night (7).
The Flyers knew they couldn’t afford to go down 2-0 in this series.
Teams which trail playoff series by a 2-0 margin win only about 14 percent of the time.
What was the emotion like in the locker room before overtime after giving up the tying goal in such excruciating fashion?
“Obviously it’s a game we shouldn’t have let go to OT,’’ Sean Couturier said after the game. “We should have been able to close it out. We have to be a little more disciplined.
“I like the way we responded after the third, the way our team has done all year. We refocused and came out strong to start the OT. That’s kind of the response we needed.’’
Coach Alain Vigneault said the Flyers, with so many young players, are learning as they go.
“You have to find ways to win,’’ Vigneault said. “We told the players after the third period that the Montreal series was the first one I’ve had where there wasn’t an overtime.
“In playoff hockey, there normally is. You have to find a way to get it done. We got off to a good start, they have a good team, they battled back. We found a way to win and tie up the series.’’
Like Couturier, Vigneault liked the way the Flyers responded under duress.
The Flyers haven’t lost back-to-back games since January and goalie Carter Hart has a lot to do with that.
“Carter played well tonight, he gives us a chance to win,’’ Vigneault said. “This group has been very competitive, very combative. There’s been an extra sense of urgency. Tonight’s game, guys were focused. They knew they had to win.’’
The Flyers took a 3-0 first-period lead, including two goals from Kevin Hayes, then watched it slip away.
A costly turnover by defenseman Travis Sanheim led to the Islanders’ tying goal by Pageau. The Flyers challenged the play for a possible offside call but replay confirmed the play was not a violation.
“I should have gotten the puck out there,’’ said Couturier, who had a chance to get Sanheim’s misplay out of harm’s way.
But Myers saved the day with his long shot from the point which nicked off an Islander defender’s stick.
A power-play goal by Anders Lee late in the second period and a second by Anthony Beauvillier at 11:11 of the third fueled New York’s rally.
It was quite a day for Hayes, who picked up his first playoff two-goal game of his career.
“Hayes wasted no time scoring the first of his two goals by connecting just 1:57 into the match. He finished off a feed from Travis Konecny with a shot past goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who blanked the Flyers in a 4-0 Game 1 win.
It was back to work for Hayes on the second goal at 9:03. This time Joel Farabee picked up the primary assist as Hayes fired a shot over Varlamov’s right shoulder (short side).
The scoring spree continued when Couturier scored his first goal of the playoffs at 15:09. Again, Couturier completed another rush to the net with Claude Giroux doing the major assist honors.
That goal sent Varlamov to the bench with Thomas Greiss entering the game.
The Islanders finally broke through on the Lee goal after a delay of game penalty to Jake Voracek. Lee finished off a pass from Matthew Barzal.
In the third period, the Islanders closed to within a goal when Beauvillier connected off a three-on-two rush. Then Pageau sent the game to overtime.
Hart sort of knew the Islanders were not going to roll over even after they were down 3-0.
“They battled back,’’ he said. “We know they play a hard game. “We just stuck to our game plan and played the game hard. He (Myers) got that shot on net and that’s the game of hockey.’’