WASHINGTON -- The Philadelphia Flyers' Michal Neuvirth turned in an outstanding performance en route to a 2-0 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of this Eastern Conference first-round series Friday night at Verizon Center. The Capitals lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 with Game 6 on Sunday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia at noon ET.
How it happened: Neuvirth was dialed in and finished with 44 saves. It also helped that the Flyers made some key blocks and defensive plays in front of him. And their first goal (the second was an empty-netter) was the result of some puck luck, but Neuvirth was outstanding.
After the Flyers dropped Games 1 and 2, coach Dave Hakstol should have made a goalie change for Game 3, but he didn’t and stuck with Steve Mason. Neuvirth made 31 saves (13 in the third period) en route to a 2-1 win in Game 4. That success carried over into Game 5.
After a scoreless first period, the Flyers scored the first goal of the game for the third consecutive game in this series when a shot attempt by Ryan White ricocheted off the skate of Washington defenseman Taylor Chorney and past Holtby for a 1-0 lead at 7 minutes, 52 seconds of the second period. Even though Philadelphia owned a one-goal lead, the Capitals kept the pressure on, but Neuvirth made timely save after timely save. His two biggest saves came in the waning minutes of the period. He kicked away a point-blank shot by Alex Ovechkin, before the Capitals’ Marcus Johansson grabbed the rebound for a golden opportunity, only to have Neuvirth flash his right pad and make the save at 18:14.
When the second period came to an end, he had already registered 30 saves. He proved his prowess again in the third period, specifically when he stoned the Capitals’ Jay Beagle on a shorthanded opportunity. From start to finish he was focused. He had no choice since the Flyers managed only 10 shots on Braden Holtby.
What it means: For the second consecutive game, the Flyers staved off elimination. Philadelphia has gained a bit of momentum thanks to the performance of Neuvirth. The series shifts back to Philadelphia for Game 6 on Sunday. Since the Capitals failed to end this series for a second consecutive game, whispers will now be heard about the team’s past postseason failures. Not that this team needed any more motivation, but maybe attending the celebration-of-life service for owner Ed Snider on Thursday gave the players an extra boost. Since the Flyers are back in this series, and if they can tie it on Sunday, Philadelphia has to figure out how to score on the power play (where they are 1-for-21).