Michal Neuvirth Finally Gets the Chance to Shine, Earns A Huge Win to Avoid the Series Sweep.

Philadelphia Flyers LogoThe Philadelphia Flyers earned a vital win by the score of 2-1 Wednesday night over the Washington Capitals in a rocking Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers were led by Czech-born goaltender Michal Neuvirth who made a stellar 31 saves.

Finally, Flyers head Coach Dave Hakstol looked to his “number 2” goaltender Michal Neuvirth to provide momentum for his club. In my opinion, this coaching move came a game short, because clearly Neuvirth should have started Game 3! On the other hand, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby looked to continue his hot start to the series. Coming into Game 4, Holtby has stopped 93 out of 95 shots thrown his way in three games for an amazing .978% SV and a mindblowing .67 GAA with one shutout under his belt.

The beginning of the game started very fast. With each team going back and forth, trading shots off the post. The games first penalty went Capitals defender Taylor Chorney as he interfered with Flyers center Nick Cousins just 5:03 into the game. This sent the Flyers to their awful power play, who prior to game 3 were a dreadful 0/13 on the man advantage. So the Flyers were looking to grab a quick and early goal and that’s exactly what they did thanks to rookie sensation Shayne Gostisbehere. Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds dished the puck to the slot intended for Brayden Schenn, his stick got lifted and the puck went right to “Ghost’s” stick. He passed the puck to superstar center Claude Giroux who passed it right back to Shayne, who then moved it back to Giroux, and then received a perfect pass right in his wheel house! Ghost unleashed a massive one-timer from the point and beat Holtby high blocker side just 48 seconds into the PP to send the crowd into a frenzy. The goal was Gostisbehere’s first career playoff goal.

The Capitals looked to jump right back and tie the game. Just 26 seconds later Caps youngster Evgeny Kuznetsov came down the right-hand side and let a powerful wrister go, but Michal Neuvirth stood tall and shut that opportunity down faster then you could say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

This next part was one of the scariest moments in Flyers winger, Scott Laughton’s career. Scott Laughton was skating for the puck in the corner and also involved in a hard battle with Caps D-man John Carlson. Laughton got over-powered by Carlson and taken down unintentionally HARD into the boards banging his head and neck in both an awkward way. Laughton attempted to get up but just laid motionlessly behind Holtby’s net. This was definitely a scary sight for any hockey fan or player to see. He was then stretchered off the ice  10-15 minutes later after being tended to by the trainers, then was taken to a nearby hospital for precautionary measures. Everyone here at Down The Frozen River wishes a speedy recovery!

The Flyers jumped right off the bat in the second period looking to extend their 1-0 lead. Just 31 seconds into the second-period Flyers captain Claude Giroux flew down the right-hand side throwing a wrister towards the net and finding the stick of Brayden Schenn. He then put a nasty redirection on target, but Braden Holtby denied that chance with ease.

Then with 16:09 remaining in the second the Flyers finally got their second goal they were pushing for. Brayden Schenn came down the right side, stopped on a dime at the point, and threw a weak wrister on net that was easily handled by Holtby, and waffleboarded into the corner. Flyers power forward Wayne Simmonds collected the rebound in the corner and dished it up to defenseman Andrew MacDonald at the point who then drilled a laser beating Holtby to his right for the 2-0 lead. This was MacDonald’s 2nd career playoff goal.

Washington Capitals LogoThe Flyers would then take their first penalty of the contest just six minutes later. This time, it was Philly right winger Sam Gagner getting a two minute trip to the box after interference agaisnt Washington’s vet Justin Williams. This would send the Caps to their sizzling power play. Coming into Game 4 they were a lethal 8/17 on the manpower advantage with 5 of their 6 goals scored in Game 3 coming on the PP. Well, the Flyers were up to the tall order and only gave up one shot during the two minutes and killed it off with poise.

The Capitals would then grab another infraction, this time, with Nicklas Backstrom going to the box for holding D-man Andy MacDonald. This sent the Flyers to their second power play of the game, but this one did not last long at all. Flyers stud Jakub Voracek got the call for holding Caps enforcer Jay Beagle just 28 seconds into their PP. So the two teams ended the second with 4 aside hockey.

The third period couldn’t have started off any better for the Capitals and any worse for the Flyers. Just 2:38 into the third-period Capitals defender Karl Alzner gave his D partner Matt Niskanen a perfect cross ice pass. Niskanen received the pass and threw a wrister towards Neuvirth in hope for a rebound. He got just want he wanted, as Neuvirth made the save but was unable to corral the rebound and it squirted free right to the stick of Caps hot offseason addition T.J. Oshie. Oshie grabbed the juicy rebound and lifted it right over the sprawling Neuvirth’s pad to get the Capitals on the board and make it 2-1.

Washington would get two more prime scoring chances to tie the game. The first one coming with 10:52 remaining in the game. John Carlson found his partner Nate Schmidt open up for a one-timer on the top of the right faceoff dot. Schmidt rifled a slap shot to the net, but right into Neuvirth’s chest. Then exactly three minutes later, Washington right winger Marcus Johansson fired the puck on net from the left dot, Neuvirth made the easy save but let the rebound sit right in the crease for the taking. Caps enforcer Tom Wilson noticed the sitting puck in the blue paint and took a wrister but was absolutely robbed by the glove of Neuvirth, I mean complete larceny!

The Flyers would end up holding off the Caps final onslaught of shots to grab a critical 2-1 win. Washington controlled most of the third period, but the only reason why Philadelphia was able to hold on was because of their goalie Michal Neuvirth. It was the Flyers 1st playoff win in their last 5 playoff games.

Michal Neuvirth was phenomenal to say the lease, stopping 31 out of 32 shots, for a .969%. While Caps tendy Braden Holtby turned away 23 out of 25 shots for a .920%. This was Neuvirth’s 3rd start in the last month in half due to injury. So I would say he didn’t miss a beat!

Washington lead in shots (32-25) and faceoffs (29-27). The Flyers lead in hits (42-38), blocks (28-12) and giveaways (12-11). Philly converted once on the power play but finished 1/2 while Washington went 0/2.

Flyers earned a decisive win to avoid the sweep and grab their first win of the series (3-1). These teams will go to Washington on Friday night where the Capitals will look to put away the pesky Flyers on home ice and clinch the seires. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm and the game can be seen on NBCSN, CBC, CSN-DC, and CSN-PH.

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