Philadelphia Flyers: Victory over St. Louis was a true thriller

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia Flyers made a statement with a 4-3 overtime win against the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night.

During the six-month, 82-game grind that is the NHL season, not every game is going to be an instant classic. Any Philadelphia Flyers fan can tell you that.

But in a nationally televised game against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night, one full of chippy play, lousy officiating and a huge number of shots off the post, the Flyers provided plenty of thrills.

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Best yet, they provided an overtime win and two valuable points in the standings.

The Flyers have now made it through the “Murderer’s Row” portion of this January schedule, a four-game stretch that saw them take on four of the league’s top six teams by total points. And the Flyers more than held their own, winning three of the four.

This one was particularly impressive, as they stopped the Blues’ franchise record-tying home winning streak at nine games, handing them their first loss in St. Louis in over a month.

And the Flyers did it by matching the Blues’ intensity throughout the contest, as well as cashing in on the chances that they worked hard to create. They also largely weathered the storm of the red-hot St. Louis power play, killing five of six chances.

Most importantly, the Flyers didn’t cave in when they found themselves trailing 1-0 for nearly a full period. Nor did they crumble when St. Louis scored twice in just over three minutes to tie the game in the third period. It sure felt like a time when the wheels would come off for this Flyers team, but they didn’t.

I don’t know if that’s a major credit to the coaching staff, the maturity of the players or some combination thereof, but there was no real panic in their play even after they saw a two-goal lead evaporate in such short order.

Ultimately, the Flyers played the kind of game that they had to in front of Brian Elliott, who will shoulder the load for the next few weeks until Carter Hart hopefully gets back on the ice. Elliott was solid but didn’t need to be great in stopping 30 of 33 shots on the night. The team didn’t ask too much of him, and he delivered.

This Flyers team, while showing that they can compete with (and actually beat) the best that the league has to offer, also displayed an ability to get the job done multiple ways. On this night, there was hard work and “greasy” goals such as the one scored by Tyler Pitlick and there were full-on displays of skill like the brilliant drag-and-shoot move pulled by Jakub Voracek on the OT winner.

Yes, that Jakub Voracek that we’ve all been complaining about. Even he got in on the action.

The Flyers remain impossible to predict. They win four in a row. They look lousy on a road trip, even against middling opponents. Then they go toe-to-toe with the league’s top teams. It’s maddening, but it certainly hasn’t been boring this season.

Maybe the comeback win against the Boston Bruins on Monday night was the turning point that this team needed. Maybe Brad Marchand’s already-legendary shootout whiff was the kind of play that turns a so-so season into a special one.

Maybe I should stop hypothesizing because, with the Flyers, nothing ever makes sense.

But what I do know is that they played a highly-entertaining game against an excellent team on Wednesday night and came out with the win. It would have been nice to hold onto the lead, but then we wouldn’t have had the great finish. This is just what the Flyers are.

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In the long slog that is the NHL season, this is a Flyers game that won’t so be forgotten. Now it’s up to the team to turn it into a building block for the games that are yet to come.