The Flyers seem to be getting the hang of this overtime thing. Jakub Voracek’s overtime game-winning goal on Thursday night lifted Philadelphia to their second straight win, as the Flyers outlasted the Washington Capitals, 3-2. The route to point number 39 was an unusual one, though. But another winning edition of Flyers Backcheck is here to retrace the steps.
Answering the Bell
Despite a nine-point hole from the eighth and final playoff spot, the Flyers have all but thrown in the towel on the season. But a realistic run at the postseason calls for a drastic turnaround.
With their second straight win on Thursday, Craig Berube’s squad is off on the right foot. Goals from Sean Couturier, R.J. Umberger, and Jakub Voracek pushed the Flyers across the midway threshold of the season with a two-game win streak after previous losses in five straight. Here’s the meat and potatoes.
Improved Penalty Kill
Philly continued to improve upon their basement-dwelling penalty kill. The orange and black handled two Washington power plays, but gave up their league-leading 35th power play goal when Alex Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the first period.
The Russian scoring machine sniped a bullet past Steve Mason at the 3:08 mark of the first period, giving the Caps a goal on their first shot of the game.
Oh, you gotta love that Flyers PK. #Elite
— Matt (@TheOrangeNBlack) January 9, 2015
Third Line Buzz
The Flyers were able to carry a 1-1 tie into the first intermission, thanks to Sean Couturier’s 10th goal of the season. Couturier’s equalizer made him the fifth Flyer to reach 10 or more goals on the season, joining Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and Michael Raffl.
RJ Umberger now has 6 goals on the season. Scott Hartnell has 8.
— Ryan Bright (@philabright) January 9, 2015
After a Karl Alzner third period goal, R.J. Umberger would bring Philly back to even once again. Berube’s third line was unquestionably the team’s best line on Thursday, combining for two goals and two assists on eight shots. There was even a Matt Read sighting, with a pair of assists.
MacDonald Scratched, Grossmann Hurt
Craig Berube’s carousel of healthy scratches continued on Thursday night. This time, it was Andrew MacDonald’s turn to take a ride. Philly was forced to finish the final two periods and some change without Nicklas Grossmann, however. The 29-year-old Swede left the first period with an upper-body injury that is believed to be a concussion.
No Rinaldo, no Grossmann, no MacDonald, no coincidence; hard hitting bc we could actually make plays w/o dragging anchors.
— Mikey D, O&BP 🤙🏼🏴☠️ (@MikeyD_OandBP) January 9, 2015
The Flyers responded by holding the Caps to four second period shots, and just one goal since losing their 230-pound defenseman.
Barry Trotz’s Capitals have gotten their money’s worth out of goalie Braden Holtby. The fifth-year veteran made his 35th appearance of the season on Thursday, which is the second most in the entire league.
Holtby was terrific, as he’s been throughout his previous three-game win streak, stopping 30 of the 33 pucks thrown in his direction. And even though Philadelphia was able to crack Holtby’s code three times for a win, the Caps have now gained points in the 25-year-old’s last six outings.
Holtby needs a nap.
— Tracy Rose (@tracyramone) January 9, 2015
Orpik’s Unfriendly Welcome
After spending 11 seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Brooks Orpik made his first visit to Philadelphia as a member of the Capitals. Needless to say, however, it wasn’t Orpik’s first rodeo on Pennsylvania’s east side.
“Probably not a building you want to bring your kids to, that’s for sure,” Orpik said before Thursday’s game. “They’d learn some new language, especially with the way the benches are set up. They’re kind of open to the crowd.”
Philly may not be the best place to take your kid to a game, but Orpik probably isn't the best defenseman to hand $27.5 million either.
— Tim Riday (@TimRiday) January 8, 2015
Orpik’s return didn’t exactly go the way he envisioned, though. The 6-2, 218-pound defenseman was held scoreless with a minus-one rating to go along with his second period tripping penalty. Orpik did have six blocked shots, though, on 22:40 of ice time.
Steady Steve Mason
Just a day after leaving practice five minutes in, Steve Mason’s negative MRI made him available to make his second straight start – sixth straight appearance. Mason appeared to be playing through pain early on in the contest, as the seven-year veteran was slow to get up on several occasions.
Although Mason wasn’t tested as much as Holtby on Thursday, the 26-year-old earned his eighth win on the campaign with 26 saves. Of those 26 stops, 13 of them were made in the third period. The guy has been flat out money.
Steve Mason is good at hockey.
— Josh Bright (@DaPriceIsBright) January 9, 2015
Nick Schultz’s Offensive Explosion
With a pair of assists on the night, Nick Schultz enjoyed his first multi-point game since Nov. 19th, 2010. As a member of the Minnesota Wild in the 2010-11 season, Schultz tallied 17 points.
Initially signed as a depth defenseman, Schultz’s consistency with the Flyers has earned the 32-year-old talks of a contract extension. More performances like Thursday’s should give the former Edmonton Oiler a bit more bargaining power. Not enough to make him unaffordable, of course. But all you need is a chip and a chair, right?
Jake Voracek Watch
Jake Voracek’s overtime game-winning goal wasn’t just his 16th goal of the season. It was also another point added to his NHL-leading totals. Voracek’s 49th point on the year padded his lead over Dallas’ Tyler Seguin to two.
Before Voracek’s overtime heroics, the 6-2 forward was in jeopardy of being held scoreless in consecutive outings for the second time this season. But even with the NHL lead in points, the 25-year-old forward hasn’t found the scoresheet in back-to-back games since a previous four-game point streak from Dec. 18th – 23rd.
A Boston ‘B’ Party
Now that we’re on the verge of sipping the kool-aid, the Flyers will host the 21-15-6 Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon. Boston may be 5-2-3 in their last 10, which includes a two-game win streak, but the Bruins are a mundane 8-9-2 on the road this season.
The Bruins still stand as an obstacle that must be dealt with. Claude Julien’s troops have downed the Flyers in their last four meetings, scoring four or more goals in three of those victories.
— Kristie ❤ (@Kristie1077) January 8, 2015
The early edge should go to the Flyers since the NHL app credited the Flyers with a win over the Bruins on Thursday. It’s true. Mr. Universe, Ilya Bryzgalov got the win, despite currently playing for the Anaheim Ducks.
Bring ’em on, though. I still haven’t forgotten about that 2-1 season opener loss. But I do have to check to see if I still get Versus.
Andy is a contributor for The Hockey Writers, covering the Philadelphia Flyers. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Walsh University. He enjoys spending time with his family, golfing, and reading. He is married with a daughter. You can follow Andy on Twitter @ADudones.