Following the Flyers 7-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks Thursday night, the optimism of the team’s final 23 games quickly shifted to a sense of urgency and trepidation.
Philadelphia faced a stretch of seven games which included six Metropolitan Division opponents and the seventh opponent was the Toronto Maple Leafs, who currently occupy one of the eight playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
Needless to say, the Flyers really needed a successful weekend to set themselves up for a push towards the playoffs.
They faced the New York Rangers on Saturday, who held a three-point lead over the Flyers in the division entering the weekend, and the Washington Capitals on Sunday, who sat just one point behind the Flyers in the division entering the weekend and beat the Bruins on Saturday to put the heat on Philadelphia.
Luckily for Flyers fans, their team came out looking to make a statement. The Flyers jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead against the Rangers on Saturday, thanks to goals from Vinny Lecavalier and Sean Couturier, only to have New York come back and tie the game in the second period.
It didn’t last long as Wayne Simmonds netted his 19th of the year, and eventual game-winner, to put the Flyers up 3-2 less than two minutes after the Rangers tied the game. Luke Schenn would give the Flyers an insurance goal late in the third period for the 4-2 victory over New York.
Flyers head coach Craig Berube sounded pleased following the victory over the Rangers. “I think our guys have good character,” Berube explained. “There’s three or four games like that [7-3 loss to San Jose] we’ve had this year where we came back and had a real good game. I was pretty confident that we’d come out and play hard.”
To the dismay of many, there was little carryover into Sunday’s game against Washington. Dmitry Orlov, who has yet to score against any team other than the Flyers this year, put Washington on the board early. The Capitals would lead 2-1 after the first and 4-2 after the second period which boded well for Washington as Philadelphia was 6-17-3 when trailing after two periods.
The Flyers needed a spark in the third period and they got one at the expense of Brayden Schenn. With the Capitals holding a 4-2 lead approaching the midpoint of the third period, Schenn leveled Orlov behind the Washington net. Later on the same shift, Orlov lined up Schenn and slammed the Flyers forward into the boards in a dangerous fashion.
Orlov was issued a five-minute boarding major and the Flyers power play went to work. Philadelphia would get set up in the Washington zone as the Flyers eventually worked the puck to Jake Voracek at the point who blasted a slap shot to cut the lead to 4-3.
Claude Giroux would tie the game with 1:05 remaining when he redirected Voracek’s wrist shot past Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby. In overtime, Kimmo Timonen left a beautiful drop pass for Vinny Lecavalier who let loose a shot that beat Holtby to give Philadelphia a crucial two points and the 5-4 victory.
The Flyers turned around after their 7-3 slaughter on Thursday night to nab four out of four points over the weekend against two division opponents. Thanks to the Bruins victory over the Rangers on Sunday night, the Flyers enter the week in sole possession of second place in the Metropolitan Division sitting just two points ahead of the New York Rangers.
The optimism has returned.
The Flyers get back at it Wednesday night as they return home to face the Washington Capitals at 8:00 pm at the Wells Fargo Center.