It was a night of redemption for not one, not two but three Flyers.
Scott Laughton, who had been scratched from a game and then pushed to lower-line duty recently, came up with the winning goal at 12:20 of overtime on Tuesday for a 4-3 victory over the New York Islanders.
Meanwhile, Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk, both scoreless in the playoffs, came up with gigantic goals in the second period of Game 5 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
Philadelphia now trails the best-of-seven series, 3-2. Game 6 is scheduled for Thursday night.
The Flyers thought they had this one in hand as they took a 3-1 edge into the final five minutes.
But Brock Nelson scored on a long shot past goaltender Carter Hart with 4:14 to play, then Derick Brassard converted a Cal Clutterbuck feed for the equalizer with 2:41 remaining on the clock to create the 3-3 tie.
Then Laughton, who was promoted to the top line (Giroux, Jake Voracek) when Sean Couturier went out with an injury near the end of the second period, went to work.
He stationed himself in front of Islander goalie Semyon Varlamov and tipped Ivan Provorov’s long shot into the net.
Couturier was injured in a collision with Matthew Barzal and did not return to the game. His status for future action is uncertain.
All three aforementioned veteran players drew praise from coach Alain Vigneault.
“I think I used the term they need to wear their ‘big-boy pants,’+’’ Vigneault said with a grin after the game. “Without a doubt, they came to play.’’
This was special for Giroux and van Riemsdyk, who had been catching heat from outside the bubble for lack of production.
Giroux looked like a relieved fellow on the Zoom call.
“You want to produce, you want to be able to help the team,’’ Giroux said. “I think we’re very excited, keeping the season alive. But we can’t get too high or low.’’
JVR also sounded like a weight had been lifted.
“It’s a big game, do or die,’’ van Riemsdyk said. “Obviously it feels good to chip in offensively. But I think everyone did a great job pulling the rope in the right direction. That’s what we need more of in the next one.’’
Teamwork was the key for this win.
Laughton said: “You need guys stepping up at this time of the year. I thought a couple guys came in and did a really good job for us. But at the same time, we have to regroup. The next game is going to be harder.’’
Vigneault disclosed he said nothing special after regulation time. He trusted his players, just as he did in Game 2 when the Flyers blew a three-goal lead and needed a Phil Myers shot in overtime to win it.
“We have a very experienced group,’’ Vigneault said. “We have some veteran guys who understand the game. It’s more them than the coaches right now.
Down, 1-0, Giroux finally got on the scoresheet by stationing himself in front of Varlamov and tipping Phil Myers’ point shot down and under Varlamov’s pads at 15:45.
Then van Riemsdyk, who’s been a healthy scratch at times in the playoffs, capped off a three-on-one rush at 18:18. Islander defenseman Adam Pelech turned the puck over in the Flyers’ defensive zone and Scott Laughton led the breakout, hitting JVR with a pinpoint pass in the high slot. His rising wrist shot eluded Varlamov’s glove.
New York took a 1-0 in the second period on a power-play goal by Josh Bailey at 1:20. The goal involved plenty of controversy. Vigneault challenged the play after Matthew Barzal was pushed into the net by the Flyers’ Tyler Pitlick. The shot actually appeared to hit off Barzal who looked to be blocking Hart on the play.
But after a lengthy review, officials ruled the goal OK and the Flyers had to kill off another delay of game penalty.
In the third period, Matt Niskanen also scored his first goal of the playoffs with a bullet from the right dot that entered the net far side at 4:32 for the two-goal edge.
Vigneault started the game by making one significant change in his lines, promoting Pitlick to the Kevin Hayes No. 1 unit and dropping Travis Konecny down to a lower line with Laughton.
Konecny responded with two assists, including the game-winner.
Vigneault was asked where this one ranks in terms of “gutsy’’ wins for his career.
“Anytime you win in the playoffs in overtime, it’s big,’’ Vigneault said. “I really liked our compete level tonight.’’