With their season on the line, the Philadelphia Flyers staved off elimination in the first round of the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs by knocking off the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 in Game 5 on Friday night at PPG Paints Arena.
In each of the first four contests, the opening frame set the tone. Pittsburgh outscored Philadelphia by a total of 6-0 in the first 20 minutes of its three victories, and the Flyers held a 1-0 lead in their lone win.
The Flyers couldn't afford to fall behind early on the road. Knowing that, they came out and had arguably their best start of the series.
Each team had its chances early on, but no one capitalized until about two-and-a-half minutes before the first intermission. Flyers captain Claude Giroux got his team on the board by beating Penguins goalie Matt Murray on a one-timer, via the NHL:
That came one minute after Pittsburgh star Evgeni Malkin went to the locker room after being shaken up in a collision with Philadelphia center Jori Lehtera. He returned to the ice near the beginning of the second period.
The Flyers had a chance to add to their lead in the opening minutes of the second, but Murray came up big to deny a two-on-one break.
The story of the game was Philadelphia goalie Michal Neuvirth, who stood strong despite being peppered by shot after shot. However, Penguins winger Bryan Rust sneaked one in on a wraparound near the midway point in the second to even the score:
With a brand-new game on hand, these Pennsylvania rivals kicked up things a notch.
For the first time all series, the lead changed hands when Pittsburgh's Jake Guentzel beat Neuvirth to put up the Pens by one:
It would not be long before the Flyers responded, though. Less than two minutes after Pittsburgh took the lead, Philadelphia's Valtteri Filppula tied things by poking home a rebound:
In a period that saw seven penalties called—and five on the Flyers—it's ironic there were no power-play goals—but there was a short-handed one.
That set the stage for a dramatic third period, and Neuvirth (30 saves on 32 shots) was up to task with an impressive performance, as the NHL highlighted:
Sean Couturier rewarded the goaltender's efforts 75 seconds from time. The 25-year-old, who missed Game 4 with a knee injury, came up clutch with what proved to be the game-winner:
An empty-netter by Matt Read with 18 seconds to play officially put the game on ice.
The Flyers prevented Pittsburgh from winning its ninth consecutive playoff series (for the time being at least). Game 6 will be at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Sunday.