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Flyers force Game 7 as Ivan Provorov's goal results in a 5-4 double OT win over Islanders

By Sam Carchidi, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Hockey

Hold the Flyers' obituary.

The return of Oskar Lindblom, cancer survivor, was the inspiration.

The early goals by Kevin Hayes and James van Riemsdyk pointed them in the right direction.

The late-game heroics by Carter Hart, Scott Laughton and Ivan Provorov finished the improbable rally.

Put it all together, and it produced another victory that extended the Flyers' season.

For the second straight game, the Flyers held off elimination, this time with a riveting 5-4 double overtime win against the dazed New York Islanders at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena.

Provorov scored with 4 minutes, 57 seconds left in the second overtime as the Flyers evened the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals at three wins apiece. All three Flyers wins have come in overtime, the first time in history they have had three OT victories in the same series.

It will come down to a winner-take-all Game 7 on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The winner of that game will meet Tampa Bay in the conference finals.

Seconds after the Flyers killed a third-period penalty, they tied the game at 4-4 as Claude Giroux sent Laughton on a breakaway, and he made a deft move to beat goalie Semyon Varlamov with 10:07 to go in regulation. It gave the Flyers four goals (three following turnovers) on just 14 shots.

As it turned out, Laughton's goal caused the team's to go into overtime for the third time in six games. The Flyers won the first two overtime games.

The Flyers were outshot in regulation, 42-17, and a handful of clutch saves by Hart on a late New York power play forced overtime. They were outshot 53-31 overall.

"You can't be looking at the big picture," coach Alain Vigneault said before the game. "We have to be focused on the details of the game. We have to be hungry and have that will when we're on the ice."

Winger Michael Raffl had that will. He missed the previous three games with an undisclosed injury, but he returned to the lineup and scored on a rebound with 6:39 left in the second, tying the game at 3-3. It was his fourth goal in only eight postseason games this summer.

It also temporarily dulled the momentum the Islanders had built by scoring three straight goals.

 

With 30 seconds left in the second, however, the Islanders took a 4-3 lead as Mathew Barzal scored from the left circle after a Travis Sanheim turnover.

The Islanders had scored two goals in the first 3:06 of the second period to grab a 3-2 lead. They scored three goals in a 6:33 span to erase a 2-0 deficit.

Matt Martin's slot shot deflected off defenseman Justin Braun and through Hart's legs with 18:36 left in the second, knotting the score at 2-2. Making matters worse for the Flyers: Vigneault's ill-advised challenge - that made him 0 for 3 in those decisions in the series - for goalie interference on Casey Cizikas was denied, putting the Islanders on a power play.

The Flyers were burned by Vigneault's challenge, which was turned down because Cizikas was tripped into Hart by Braun. Anders Lee scored on a rebound on the ensuing power play, giving the Isles a 3-2 lead with 16:54 remaining in the second.

Earlier, Lindblom's return was met by stick taps from players from both sides and applause from the officials.

"It's amazing. It's something great for the whole hockey community," Raffl said of Lindblom's return. "The guy was battling for something else than just a hockey game, and he came out on top."

It was Lindblom's best friend on the team, fellow Swede Robert Hagg, who helped set up a Hayes goal that gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead with 9:44 left in the first.

Hagg's stole the puck in the neutral zone and fed Travis Konecny, who made a slick feed to Hayes in the slot. The 28-year-old center whipped a shot that beat Varlamov high to the short side.

About 1 1/2 minutes later, van Riemsdyk, who had been scoreless in the postseason until Tuesday, scored in his second straight game, putting a left-circle drive to the far side with 8:08 to go in the first.

The Islanders got to within 2-1 three seconds after a slashing penalty to Nic Aube-Kubel expired. Derick Brassard broke his stick in front as he converted Devon Toews' pass and redirected it past Hart with 3:27 remaining in the opening period.

New York went to the first intermission facing a 2-1 deficit despite outshooting the Flyers, 10-5, and winning 73.3% of the faceoffs. For most of the series, it has been the Isles who have capitalized on Flyers mistakes. In the opening period Thursday, the tables turned.

But the relentless Islanders responded with three goals during a second period in which they had an 18-8 shots domination, putting the Flyers in a desperate situation.

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