The Philadelphia Flyers’ special teams were, well, special late in the game against the Buffalo Sabres. Both units came into the game among the worst in the league, but the power play (17.95%, 22nd) scored the game-tying goals and the penalty kill (72.22%, 28th) came through in the final minutes of the third period.
After going 0-for-3 on their first three man-advantages of the game, the Flyers had their fourth (and final) power play come at a big moment.
The power play was zero for their last eight attempts, dating back to Saturday’s Pittsburgh game. The Flyers scored their third goal of the game five seconds after the power play expired, however.
A vintage Ghost Bomb
With the fans anxiously yelling “shoot” and the Flyers moving the puck around, Shayne Gostisbehere finally gave the fans what they wanted. Gostisbehere unleashed a vintage slap shot from the point through traffic and passed Jonas Johansson.
It was a thing of beauty.
The goal got the power play off the schneid, and more importantly, tied the game at four with 5:46 left in the third period.
“It was good for us to break through there and tie the game up,” Gostisbehere said. “I think it was more important for our team to tie the game up, come back. We didn’t have the best game out there, but you find a way, good teams find a way to win.”
The Flyers’ power play hasn’t been converting recently, but they have generated plenty of chances and hit a few posts.
“I feel like we’ve been right there,” Joel Farabee said of the recent power play struggles. “Things are moving in the right direction for our power play. Pucks are getting to the net. We are creating chances. That is all you can do. It was really nice to get that tying one tonight and hopefully we build some momentum off that.”
It wasn’t just the power play that came up clutch late in the game. The penalty kill did their job in a big spot as well.
Jakub Voracek took a tripping penalty in the offensive zone with 2:24 left in the third period.
He didn’t like the call, and it was a nerve-wracking two minutes coming up.
Penalty kill gets it done
Two Flyers defensemen, in particular, played well on the kill.
The Flyers kept the Sabres mostly to the outside on their power play. Ivan Provorov went down to block a shot by Victor Olofsson, the Sabres’ leader with six power-play goals on the season. The Flyers were able to clear the zone.
Those were two big plays by the penalty kill to keep the game tied in the final minutes of the period.
The power play tied the game, the penalty kill made sure it stayed tied. The Flyers were given the opportunity to win it in the extra session, and they came through in the shootout.
Special teams can make or break any game and it was the difference in the third period of this one.
“Usually when you win at [special teams], whether it be the power play or penalty killing, you’re going to give yourself a good chance to win the game,” Alain Vigneault said. The Flyers did just that.
Hopefully, the special teams play in the third period can be a building block for the Flyers. They have been playing better overall at even strength, but their power play and penalty kill have been quite poor. If they are able to find some success on the power play, that makes it easier to live with defensive lapses and poor play at 5-on-5.
The Flyers aren’t going to be able to enjoy this overtime win very long with two more games against the Capitals coming up. They finish out the homestand on Thursday and Saturday before embarking on a four-game road trip to New York.