Humiliation one day. Redemption the next.
The Philadelphia Flyers outlasted the Washington Capitals 2-1 in front of a rowdy home crowd behind stellar goaltending from Michal Neuvirth and a bend, but not break effort from their defense as they staved off elimination and a series sweep.
The Flyers, after an embarrassing performance on the ice and from their fans just 48 hours earlier, shook up their lineup in all hopes that could spark the team in what could possibly be their final game of the season. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was suspended for his hit on Brooks Orpik and the team was left to fill the void with a recall of Lehigh Valley Phantom Colin McDonald. Neuvirth came in to start in place Steve Mason, who despite having two strong games in Washington, was benched in favor of the backup.
Philadelphia, who had controlled most of the even-strength play during the series but saw their special teams falter on both ends thus far, finally broke through on the power play. Shayne Gostisbehere ripped a slapper from the point past Braden Holtby to give the Flyers an early 1-0 lead. Unlike last game where the Capitals answered back quickly, they were held in check as the Flyers closed a period with the lead for the first time this series.
A scary moment late in the first period occurred when John Carlson finished a check on Scott Laughton, who was sent tumbling and slammed into the boards awkwardly head first and was seriously injured. After lying almost motionless for several minutes, the Flyers medical staff was able to secure and stretcher him off the ice. The young forward was taken to the hospital for further testing. No update was given on the extent of his injury.
Andrew MacDonald gave the team some much needed cushion with a one-timer from the point to give the Flyers an early 2-0 lead in the second. They also killed two Washington power plays, which had been their Achilles heel the entire series thus far.
The third period would be all Capitals start to finish, who had no desires to play another game against a physical Flyers squad. T.J Oshie cut the lead in half after potting home a loose rebound in front of Neuvirth less than three minutes into the period. The Flyers would not register another shot in the Washington zone for the rest of the game as the Capitals were relentless on the attack and dominated play at even strength.
Except Neuvirth had an answer for every Capitals opportunity and made several huge saves that would have found the back of the net against most goaltenders. The Presidents’ Trophy winners made one final onslaught in the waning seconds of the game to try and force overtime but it was to no avail.
There would be a Game 5.
It was a flip of the script from the other games for the Flyers, as their special teams came up huge and were on their heels at even strength. An exemplary effort from a team that most left for dead after their dreadful Game 3 and almost impossible deficit in the series. Fortunately, the franchise had evaded fate once before down 3-0 in a series, and will now have to do the same to keep alive their unlikely playoff run.
The teams will head back down I-95 and face off Friday night at the Verizon Center in Washington, as the Flyers will hope to play at least one more home game at Wells Fargo Center this season.