How sticking to their game plan paid off for Flyers’ in 5-4 OT win

Jake Voracek

Even when the Flyers lost their grip on a 2-0 lead Monday night, they didn’t lose faith in their system.

After falling behind the New York Rangers, 3-2, and later, 4-3, the Flyers stuck to their belief that they were, as several personnel pointed out on Sunday, “trending in the right direction.’’

Staying with the game plan paid off as they scored a tying goal on a power play by Claude Giroux early in the third period and then got the game-winner in OT from Jake Voracek for a 5-4 victory at Madison Square Garden.

The triumph broke a two-game Flyers’ losing streak and moved them to within one point of Boston, which lost to Pittsburgh in regulation time, for the final playoff spot in the East Division.

Voracek’s timely play typified the Flyers’ character effort.

The veteran, gassed from being on the ice for nearly two minutes, jumped the route when Ranger goaltender Keith Kinkaid attempted a long clear to forward Artemi Panarin.

Voracek rushed in, deked Kinkaid halfway to 33rd Street and pushed the puck into the net, giving the Flyers their fifth straight win at MSG dating back through 2019.

How important was it to get this win and validate their contention that they had been heading “the right way’’ despite having lost five of their last seven games?

“A hundred percent,’’ said Joel Farabee, who scored a critical power-play goal to make it 3-3 late in the second period and also shook off a blistering shot off his foot late in the first. “We had dropped a few to Washington. It was not where we wanted to be but like we stuck with it.

“Jake and ‘G’ really stepped up for us and they were a big part of why we won.’’

The Flyers are scheduled to get a well deserved day off on Tuesday as they prepare for another game at the Rangers on Wednesday night. At least they head into that tilt with some confidence.

Voracek’s goal caused an explosion on the Flyers’ bench, as much relief as joy. The Flyers needed this one.

“I was dead,’’ Voracek admitted. “Panarin was tired, too. I got a bounce there, I knew I had some time. It (the goal) was a pretty good feeling.’’

Coach Alain Vigneault sounded satisfied with his team’s performance.

“Our team played an excellent first period,’’ he said. “I don’t know what happened in the second. In the third, the power play was huge for us and the penalty kill came up big, got the job done.’’

>Why teammates stuck up for Giroux

Giroux took a questionable knee-to-knee hit from Brandon Smith late in the second period. Nolan Patrick quickly skated over to confront Smith and when things got physical, Voracek jumped in.

That was a good “team’’ moment. By that, we mean players having each other’s backs.

Giroux appreciated the support.

“I got hit, Nolan got in there and then Jake,’’ Giroux said. “You know, we have each other’s back.’’

Giroux shook off the hit and came back to stand out in the third.

“You don’t want to see a captain get hit like that,’’ goaltender Carter Hart said. “That’s how we are as a team, everybody has each other’s back. When someone gets hit like that, the boys are going to step in. That was great to see.’’

>Hart shows improvement

Hart really couldn’t be blamed for much of the Rangers’ three-goal onslaught in the second period.

Panarin scored on a missile from the left circle, Colin Blackwell connected off a two-on-one pass from Panarin and Julien Gauthier blew past Shayne Gostisbehere in a span of 7:04.

But Hart didn’t crumble and allowed only one more goal the rest of the way.

“(I) definitely feel better,’’ Hart said. “There are still a lot of areas I’m working at. But it’s nice to get back in the win column. That’s a huge win. It’s a step in the right direction.’’

Added Voracek: “It’s always a good thing when your goalie has a great game and Carter had a great game. He keeps working, he’s going to turn it around. He’s too good a goalie not to get any bounces, any luck. We knew he was going to come around and he made a great save at the beginning of the third on (Chris) Kreider.’’

>Can this win give the Flyers confidence?

“We need to win,’’ Vigneault said. “But we have to find a way to play 60 minutes.’’

In addition to Giroux and Voracek, Vigneault had to be pleased with the play with what is considered the team’s top line. Farabee’s goal was his 12th of the season (11 equal strength, which stand among the league leaders). Sean Couturier assisted on the Flyers’ first two goals and James van Riemsdyk kicked off the scoring with his team-leading 13th goal.

>By the numbers

Couturier has 19 points in 14 games since returning from injury on Feb. 7. During that span, he has posted 1.31 points per game, which is ranked fifth in the NHL over that period. . .Kevin Hayes thought he scored a go-ahead goal with 3:05 to play in regulation time but the goal was overturned on an offside call. . .Over his last 12 games, Giroux is winning faceoffs at a rather startling 67.2 percent. . .The Flyers kept their streak alive of not having three straight games in regulation time dating back to 2019.

About Wayne Fish 1449 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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