They did not make it easy on themselves, but the Philadelphia Flyers will have a chance to fight another day.
Game 6 will take place on Thursday night in Toronto.
This was a pretty wild game that saw the Flyers go from looking completely helpless in the first half, to dominating the middle part, then collapsing late in the third period, and then finally securing the win in overtime.
While all of that was happening they also lost one of their best players, Sean Couturier, to injury.
That’s a lot to unwrap, so let’s try to break it down one item at a time.
1. First, the Flyers received some tangible contributions from their top players. They have been waiting all postseason for that to happen and it finally started on Tuesday. Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk, and Matt Niskanen all scored their first goals of the postseason to help the Flyers jump out to a 3-1 lead midway through the third period.
Entering Tuesday’s game Giroux, van Riemsdyk, Couturier, Kevin Hayes, and Travis Konecny (their top-five goal scorers during the regular season) had combined for just five goals this postseason. Depth scoring is important, but there was going to come a point where they needed some goals from their top guys.
Giroux finally broke through midway through the second period when he deflected a shot behind Semyon Varlamov. For Giroux, it was his first playoff goal since 2018 and just his second goal in his past 25 postseason games. Before that goal the Flyers looked completely incapable of breaking through the Islanders’ defense. Instead, it ended up being a pretty big turning point.
Just a few minutes later van Riemsdyk scored his first goal of the playoffs to give the Flyers their first lead of the game.
The Flyers still have a ton of work to do in this series and need to win two more games with zero margin for error, but there are some positives that developed these past two games. Even though they lost Game 4 head coach Alain Vigneault was happy with the effort, and for a significant portion of Tuesday’s game they controlled the play. So they have that going for them.
There were also some problems…
2. The big one is the way the completely folded in the final six minutes of regulation. Instead of locking down a two-goal lead with their season on the line, the Flyers allowed the Islanders to score a pair of goals in two minutes to tie the game and send it to overtime.
It wasn’t just that the Islanders tied the game that was a problem. It was the way the Flyers seemed to sit back and let the Islanders take the game to them.
Not having Couturier certainly played a role in that, which brings us to the next point…
3. If Couturier is not able to play on Thursday that would be a massive blow for the Flyers. He is their best all-around player and there is a noticeable difference when he is not in the lineup.
Couturier was injured late in the second period when he was involved in a collision with Islanders forward Mathew Barzal. He did not return for the third period or overtime and Vigneault had no immediate update on his status after the game.
Laughton ended up taking Couturier’s place on the Flyers’ top line after the injury and was in that spot when he scored the game-winning goal in overtime.
Barzal was also injured on Tuesday when he took an inadvertent high stick to the face late in the third period. He did not play in overtime and coach Barry Trotz had no immediate update on him after the game.
No. 1 Philadelphia Flyers vs. No. 6 New York Islanders (NYI lead 3-2)
Game 1: Islanders 4, Flyers 0 (recap)
Game 2: Flyers 4, Islanders 3 (OT) (recap)
Game 3: Islanders 3, Flyers 1 (recap)
Game 4: Islanders 3, Flyers 2 (recap)
Game 5: Flyers 4, Islanders 3 (OT)
*Game 6: Thursday, Sept. 3 – TBD
*Game 7: Saturday, Sept. 5 – TBD
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