The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders don’t have much time to process the swing of emotions they experienced at the end of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Wednesday.
Within minutes of defenseman Philippe Myers‘ goal 2:40 into overtime that gave the Flyers a 4-3 victory, each team already was looking ahead about 25 hours to Game 3 on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).
For Philadelphia, the feeling was a lot better than it was after it let a 3-0 lead after the first period slip away. Myers’ goal allowed the Flyers to move on quickly from giving up two goals in the final 8:49 of the third and feel like they have some momentum heading into Game 3.
“I mean, it’s huge,” Philadelphia center Kevin Hayes said. “It’s a back-to-back game, and you have an overtime win. We’re feeling good about ourselves, but they’re obviously going to come hard tomorrow. (So) enjoy it quickly and get ready for tomorrow.”
The Islanders were caught between being proud of their resilience from rallying to force overtime after a poor first period and the disappointment of not completing the comeback by winning in overtime. That was the difference between New York leading 2-0 in the best-of-7 series and facing a much tougher battle with the series tied 1-1.
“This one stings a little bit because we worked so hard to get back,” said captain Anders Lee, whose power-play goal at 11:45 of the second period started New York’s comeback. “But there’s no other choice but to look on to tomorrow and regroup and try to recover and all those things that get us ready for tomorrow.”
Teams that win Game 3 after a Stanley Cup Playoff series is tied 1-1 are 218-107 (67 percent) winning a best-of-7 series, including 3-1 this postseason. The quick turnaround puts even more emphasis on Game 3.
The Flyers have a chance to take control of the series with their second win in as many days. The Islanders need a win to answer what the Flyers did Wednesday and avoid falling behind in a series for the first time in the postseason.
New York won the first three against the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference First Round on its way to wrapping up that best-of-7 series in five games and won the first two games against the Florida Panthers in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers before winning that best-of-5 series in four games.
“You can’t get the game that just happened. You’ve got to get the next one,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “So, playoffs, you almost have to be like a goaltender. When you let one, you’ve just got to focus on the next save. Tomorrow, the next save will be Game 3. So we’ll have to focus on that.”
The Flyers knew exactly what was at stake Wednesday after losing 4-0 in Game 1 on Monday and demonstrated that urgency in jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the opening 15:09.
Hayes scored 1:57 into the game and again at 9:43 to make it 2-0. Sean Couturier chased goalie Semyon Varlamov to the bench when he made it 3-0 on Philadelphia’s 10th shot with 4:51 left.
“When you lose Game 1 and your next two games are back-to-back, Game 2 is a pretty important game,” Hayes said. “Every game is important, but tonight was probably the most important game of the season, and we responded.”
It was New York’s turn to respond after that, and it did with Lee’s power-play goal and even-strength goals from Anthony Beauvillier (8:49 left) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (2:09 remaining) in the third period.
That the Islanders couldn’t score one more goal — either on the power play resulting from the Flyers’ failed coach’s challenge for offside on Pageau’s goal or in overtime – was deflating, but they know they can’t dwell on that with another game coming up so quickly.
“We had a chance to go into overtime and win this game,” Pageau said. “It didn’t happen, but that’s what playoffs is all about. We knew it was going to be a long and hard series, and I know our team is prepared for it. We’re going to bounce back and give our all tomorrow again.”