The Philadelphia Flyers aren’t done yet.
Despite being outscored 12-2 over the first three games of this first round series, the Flyers managed to eke out a narrow 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 4 tonight.
After posting a 4.09 GAA and .852 save percentage in three consecutive losses, Flyers goalie Steve Mason was replaced by Michal Neuvirth for this contest and that proved to be a key change. Neuvirth stood tall, turning aside 31 of 32 shots against the team that drafted him back in 2006.
When it came to finally breaking out of their offensive rut, it was the Flyers blueliners that led the charge. Shayne Gostisbehere found the back of the net with the man advantage after Philadelphia went 0-13 on the power-play in the first three games of this series. Andrew MacDonald, who is certainly not known for scoring goals, provided the game-winner.
T.J. Oshie cut the Flyers’ lead in half early in the third frame, but Washington wasn’t able to build on that.
While the Flyers won the night, their challenge is just beginning. Washington still holds a 3-1 series lead and will host Game 5 on Friday.
For the first half of Wednesday’s game, the Florida Panthers essentially played with 17 skaters to the Islanders’ 18.
Defenseman Jakub Kindl was supposed to be a healthy scratch today. He was listed as such on the Florida Panthers’ official lineups, per the Miami Herald’s George Richards, but at the last minute Kindl was put onto the roster in place of forward Greg McKegg, giving the team seven blueliners.
After a less than stellar showing in Game 1 though and being scratched for the two contests that followed, Kindl didn’t log a single second of ice time in the first 30 minutes of Wednesday’s contest.
Which begs the question why is he on the roster at all, and the answer reportedly is that one of the team’s defenseman was struck by the puck during the warmups, according to Richards. Kindl was put into the lineup as a precaution in case the unnamed defenseman couldn’t play, but thus far the Panthers’ other blueliners have been logging regular minutes.
As a result Kindl might end up getting the unusual distinction of being inserted into a playoff game, but not being used at all.
It took 14 tries, but the Philadelphia Flyers have joined the rest of the playoff teams.
Shayne Gostisbehere, who is celebrating his 23rd birthday today, found the back of the net with the man advantage at 5:51 of the first period to give the Flyers their first power-play goal of the series. Washington had been the only team that had successfully killed off all of their first round penalties.
To make matters worse, Capitals coach Barry Trotz challenged the goal on the grounds of goalie interference. The ruling stood though and Washington consequently lost their timeout. You can see the full sequence below:
Defenseman Andrew MacDonald added to the Flyers lead 3:51 minutes into the second frame when he launched a shot past Washington goalie Braden Holtby:
MacDonald had 20 goals in 400 regular season contests and a single marker in 14 career playoff games going into tonight’s contest.
Those goals have been a step in the right direction for Philadelphia, but the Flyers have a long journey after of them after falling behind 3-0 in the first round series.
The Philadelphia Flyers largely did what they needed to in the first period of Wednesday’s game, but there was a troubling scene right before the intermission.
Capitals defenseman John Carlson knocked Scott Laughton near the end boards. The contact itself didn’t look vicious, but Laughton lost his footing and slid violently into the end boards before bouncing off. He lay face down behind the Capitals net.
Medics immobilized his neck and took him out of the game on a stretcher. The silver lining is that Laughton was conscious and able to use his hands.
There was no penalty on the play.
Laughton, 21, has been participating in his first postseason series. The Flyers announced that he has taken to Jefferson Hospital as a precaution. They plan to provide a further update as soon as they can.
Update: Laughton will remain in the hospital overnight for precautionary reasons, per the team’s Twitter feed. The tests Laughton has undergone have come back negative.
Even for Drew Doughty, the amount of work he’s getting is troubling.
Doughty was already asked to log 28:01 minutes per contest during the regular season without a single game off and now he’s averaging 31:11 minutes in the playoffs. To be clear, that puts Doughty on track to record a higher minutes per game average than he has in any of the Kings’ prior playoff runs.
The absence of Alec Martinez (undisclosed) is a factor, but regardless of the rationale, one has to wonder if fatigue will become an issue for Doughty if this continues. That puts pressure on Jamie McBain to step up so that Kings coach Darryl Sutter can use him more.
After McBain logged just 5:42 minutes on Monday, Sutter seemed to acknolwedge that he needed more out of the 28-year-old defenseman.
“I don’t think you’ll go very long in a series, whether it’s whoever you’re talking about, with guys that are only playing five-to-10 minutes,” Sutter told LA Kings Insider. “You might be able to stretch a series out, but you won’t win it.”
Game 4 against the San Jose Sharks is set to start at 10:30 p.m. ET tonight. The Sharks will be looking to take a 3-1 series lead on their home ice. Meanwhile, Martinez is back in Los Angeles.