Dave Hakstol wasn’t about to toot his own horn.
He had to give some props, instead.
San Jose winger Kevin Labanc crowded Michal Neuvirth and ended up whacking the goalie with his stick when he whipped around to shoot but whiffed on the puck. Neuvirth tried to recover by sprawling across the crease as the puck hit off a Flyer or was batted in by Sharks center Patrick Marleau.
The ruling on the play was a goal.
That was until Flyers video coach Adam Patterson went to Hakstol’s ear. He quickly studied the play and advised the man in charge to dispute the call. Patterson’s eye and Hakstol’s decision paid off. After review, the goal was overturned and a 1-0 deficit was flipped back into a scoreless tie for a desperate Flyers team (see 10 observations).
The play occurred with 1:23 remaining on a San Jose power play, which the Flyers killed the rest of following the score reversal.
“There’s always gray area to the challenges,” Hakstol said. “Great job by Adam Patterson. All the credit for that one goes straight to him. He radioed us immediately. There’s always gray area, but I think it’s the right call, obviously, or else we wouldn’t have challenged it.”
Good thing they did, because the Flyers needed overtime to snap a 1-1 tie for two points to finish a season-long five-game homestand 2-2-1. If Hakstol doesn’t use his challenge, who knows how the Flyers respond? Especially considering their goal-starved offense entered Saturday with just one marker over the past three games.
Neuvirth made 23 saves in the win and was happy the Flyers challenged.
“He hit me,” Neuvirth said of Labanc. “It was the right call by Hak, he saw it better than me, it happened so fast. It was a good job by Hak.”
Was Neuvirth surprised the goal was overturned?
“Yeah, a little bit,” he said.
“There is contact, some goals you think they are going to overrule and they are still in. It is 50/50 I guess. Today it was big — a big start not to give up that one early.”
Wayne Simmonds, who scored his first-ever overtime winner, saw Labanc’s interference from the bench. After all, Simmonds knows a thing or two about the balance between shielding and interfering a goalie.
“Yeah, he is in the crease,” Simmonds said. “His butt hits Neuvy and kind of moves him around there. If you are going by the rules, it’s a no goal.”
Labanc, a 21-year-old rookie just recently recalled from the AHL, was filling in for San Jose’s third-leading scorer Logan Couture, who was a late scratch because of an undisclosed injury.
“I mean, I thought it should have been a good goal, but it is what it is,” Labanc said.
Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer knew the importance of scoring first Saturday.
His team did, but Patterson then played his role for the Flyers.
“Well, you know we knew they would push,” DeBoer said. “This is a team you can’t get a higher desperation level for where they are at and the number of games left. … They always start fast in this building. They got a full house — it’s a tough place to play.”