The Philadelphia Flyers were lost. A 3-0 deficit through two periods against one of the worst NHL teams in recent history had the Flyers headed to rock bottom.
The Flyers’ leadership group needed to step up both on the ice and in the locker room.
“I didn’t go in the room in between the second and third,” Alain Vigneault said after the win. “Sometimes teams and players have to figure things out and there’s no doubt that our guys did.”
Having a players-only meeting can shake things up after a loss, and the Flyers were able to change the direction of an important game on Monday night.
“When you have leadership from more than two or three guys I think the message is just a little louder. We were able to play probably one of our best periods of the year in the third period. Hopefully, we can build on this,” the captain continued.
Ivan Provorov, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime, also spoke about the second intermission:
“It was simple. We knew we needed to play better,” he said. “We knew we needed to come back to win this game. We knew we needed to stick together to do it, so that’s what we did.”
Both Giroux and Provorov are members of the Flyers’ leadership group. They each scored a big goal. In fact, the Flyers got goals from their captain and three alternates to overcome a three-goal deficit.
Flyers follow the leaders
Kevin Hayes got the Flyers on the board 1:50 into the third. It was a shot from the slot that bounced off the post, off Linus Ullmark, and into the back of the net. A lucky bounce may have been what the Flyers needed.
“I think when Hayesy got that goal you could see everyone on the bench got a little boost and that was a big goal for us there,” Claude Giroux said after the game.
Then, with the goalie pulled, Giroux hustled back to disrupt a shot at the empty net. The puck missed wide and the Flyers found the back of the net at the other end of the ice.
Sean Couturier deflected the puck home off Provorov’s shot, with Giroux getting a secondary assist. Finally, after surviving the last minute of regulation, Provorov won the game for the Flyers just 42 seconds into overtime.
The overtime game-winner was made possible by a good hustle play by Giroux in the defensive zone.
Giroux has had a hand in most of the Flyers’ wins this month and Monday night was no different.
The Flyers’ four goals were scored by the four members of their player leadership group. Giroux is the captain, obviously, with Couturier as a permanent alternate captain. Hayes and Voracek rotate as alternate captains on the road, with Provorov as the permanent alternate captain at home.
Giroux, Couturier, and Provorov each had two points (one goal, one assist), with Voracek winning a battle to help set up Giroux’s goal.
A short bench for a big period
“We’re down by three. We needed this game,” Vigneault said. “So I decided to shorten up the bench and went with what I thought was our best nine forwards at that time.”
Shortening the bench led to the reunion of what once was the Flyers’ top line: Giroux – Couturier – Voracek.
“If we’re going to move forward and get the job done, your top players have got to be your top players,” Vigneault said. “That’s one of the reasons I put Coots back with G and Jake. We needed a push, we needed those guys to step up … We were able to find a way to win this game that we desperately needed.”
As sad as it may be, this was one of the most important games of the season for the Flyers. As Vigneault said, they desperately needed it.
Losing to the Sabres, who were on a 17-game losing streak, would have marked rock bottom for this team. It likely would have resulted in a big change. It may have come behind the bench, but it also could’ve been a trade shakeup as well. Instead, the leadership group stepped up and dragged the Flyers to victory, even if they weren’t the better team for most of the game.
The Flyers are going to need more of that throughout the rest of the season in order to right the ship.