5-on-3 PK Left Fans, Players In Awe
One of the many highlights from Thursday's thrilling 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers was a penalty kill in the third period.
No, you didn't read that wrong. The Flyers killing of a 5-on-3 power play that included a four-minute double minor for high sticking and a two-minute penalty for hooking turned out to be the ultimate seal of Philadelphia's first victory of the 2013 season.
"I mean it was a big part of the win tonight," said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. "They came out and scored the power-play goal early in the third. To go right back down for four [minutes] shortly after that and then two minutes inside of that four…I do think it is a significant part of the win tonight."
The Flyers have been struggling on the penalty kill so far this season. Heading into the game they allowed six power play goals on 16 chances, a reflection of taking bad penalties and failing to kill their mistakes.
With 10:26 left in the game, and clinging to a 2-1 lead, Tye McGinn collided with Michael Del Zotto in the corner. As he went down, McGinn's stick hit Del Zotto in the face, prompting a four-minute double minor.
15 seconds into the penalty kill, Nick Grossmann hooked his stick around the middle of Marian Gaborik and was sent to the box for two minutes, setting the Rangers up with a 5-on-3 opportunity.
Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov was tested immediately during the penalty kill.
At first, it seemed the Rangers were going to score right away. Derek Stepan received a cross-crease pass and appeared to have a slam dunk goal but Bryzgalov slid across to stone Stepan with the right pad.
About 20 seconds later, the Flyers corralled the puck and attempted to clear, but it was Maxime Talbot's dive to win the foot race to the puck that cleared it all the way down the ice.
The puck was forced all the way down the ice and Sean Couturier raced down the ice to get the puck. He won the race and tied the puck up in the corner. It took three Rangers to force the puck loose.
Couturier then raced all the way back down ice and made a diving play to clear the puck, and the Flyers were able to make their first line change.
"That’s huge. That’s what killing penalties is all about," Talbot said. "We definitely have the character here to do it and tonight it showed."
It also set the tone for the rest of the kill, in which the Flyers flustered the Rangers and prevented them from getting many more quality chances. In fact, on New York's last good chance, Bryzgalov made another sliding stop, this time on Rick Nash.
"There is no question the guys dug in," said Laviolette. "It was a hard fought game for the entire night. Like I said, the other night in Jersey, we had a lot of good signs of that. Unfortunately, we were down 3-0. Like I said, we went to the penalty box too much and we got derailed in that game. So, it was good to stay composed when came back from killing the penalties tonight in the third."
Jakub Voracek, who scored the important second goal, knew that killing that 5-on-3 was the turning point to the win.
" It was great, it was probably the game-changer," said Voracek. "If they score 5-on-3 then you say 'Here we go again,' and then they got another power play. The boys did a great job on PK and I think that was a big part of why we won the game."
When the penalty kill ended, the Wells Fargo Center erupted into a deafening applause, easily the loudest the Center has been for a regular season in a very long time.
"The crowd was probably the loudest I’ve heard it besides playoffs and it was amazing," said Tom Sestito. "The guys did a great job blocking shots, and even the power play goal they got was a lucky bounce off of Grossman laying down. They got a little bounce but our PK and power play was great tonight."