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Flyers and Islanders will put it all on the line in Game 7

By Sam Carchidi, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Hockey

The Flyers were playing without their best all-around player, Sean Couturier, and at one point Thursday in this more-fascinating-by-the-minute series against the New York Islanders, they were getting outshot by a mind-boggling 50-20.

Somehow, they survived, outlasting the Islanders in double overtime, 5-4, to force a Game 7 Saturday night in Toronto.

If he had been told before this Eastern Conference semifinal that it would come down to one game, winner take all, Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said, "I would have taken it."

And, so, here we are. The Flyers, who have won three overtime games in the same playoff series for the first time in franchise history, will try to come all the way back after falling into a 3-1 series hole.

"It permits us to have a chance, and that's what we wanted," Vigneault said.

That chance will be greatly improved if Couturier, who appeared to suffer a knee injury in Game 5, can return to the lineup, but Vigneault was mum on his availability.

 

That chance would also be greatly improved if the Flyers' power play - which is 4 for 50 in the postseason and 0 for 11 in this series - can finally connect.

The Flyers overcame those obstacles - and a bad coach's challenge by Vigneault that led to an Islanders power-play goal - in Game 6 because goalie Carter Hart was brilliant, because they were the definition of opportunistic, and because Oskar Lindblom provided inspiration and some solid play in 17:30 of action. It was Lindblom's first game in nearly nine months following a battle with a rare bone cancer.

They won because Ivan Provorov scored the first playoff overtime goal of his career after a clever setup by Kevin Hayes (goal, assist), and because Scott Laughton (game-tying goal in the third, nine hits) and Michael Raffl (goal, five hits, plus-3) raised their level of play in the third-longest game in franchise history.

Now they want to finish off the Islanders and not make the Game 6 win the highlight of their long, remarkable season.

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