Edmonton Oilers

An OT winner, a weird Oilers fan and a thrilling Flyers victory in NHL 20

An OT winner, a weird Oilers fan and a thrilling Flyers victory in NHL 20

Flyers fans were four days away from seeing Connor McDavid at the Wells Fargo Center before the NHL season was suspended March 12 because of the coronavirus outbreak.

So while you couldn't see him live in action, fans did get a chance to see the virtual version of the 23-year-old superstar Thursday night as NBC Sports Philadelphia aired an NHL 20 simulation of the the Flyers-Oilers matchup.

With the great trio of Jim Jackson, Keith Jones and Taryn Hatcher on the call, the Flyers beat the Oilers in an overtime thriller, 5-4.

Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier had multi-point games, while Ivan Provorov scored the game-winner on a nasty shot.

McDavid put up a goal and an assist but Carter Hart turned him away twice in overtime, finishing with 44 saves.

Couturier scored a huge goal in the third period to extend the Flyers' lead to 4-2. It was important insurance because the Oilers tied the game with consecutive goals to force the extra session.

Giroux and Scott Laughton turned things on in the middle stanza with back-to-back goals to put the Flyers in control.

The fellas almost hurt Giroux's neck here on the celebration.

James van Riemsdyk opened the game's scoring by flushing home a rebound during the first period.

Meanwhile, this Oilers fan was pretty weird, choosing a peculiar technique to celebrate during the action.

He went home unhappy as the Flyers improved to 3-1-0 in the NHL 20 simulations.

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Flyers' Game 6 win over Oilers at the Spectrum was The Best Game I Ever Saw Live

Flyers' Game 6 win over Oilers at the Spectrum was The Best Game I Ever Saw Live

Seventeen thousand, two hundred and twenty-two.

In 1987, that was the capacity for a hockey game at the Spectrum (WFC today: 19,537). I would suggest that on May 28, 1987, that number was elevated like a Brian Propp slap shot — because the Flyers hosted the Edmonton Oilers in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. It would be the last Flyers home game of season. It was the ticket of the spring season in Philadelphia. Sixers games, concerts, Phillies games — nothing came close to the anticipation, the electricity surrounding this game.

Why? 

The orange and black were supposed to get swept by an Oilers team that featured seven future NHL Hall of Famers starting with Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Grant Fuhr.

But the Flyers had some great players of their own — Propp, Rick Tocchet, Ron Hextall. Trailing 3-2 in the series, they returned to the Spectrum hoping to force a Game 7.

I was covering the game for Channel 3 and I had close to an ice-side seat. No, I didn’t sit in the press box. The press box was overflowing because of the clamor surrounding the game. The Spectrum's press box was not that big. So, Lou Tilley (Channel 3), Joe Pellegrino (Channel 10) and I were about 10 rows from the glass, slightly left of the Flyers' bench. It was awesome. Until the Oilers scored the first two goals and the Flyers were staring at elimination.

To the third period with the Flyers trailing 2-1. With 6:56 left in the game, on the power play, Propp! The goal capped off an awesome rush that saw the puck go to Pelle Eklund in the corner and he snapped it cross ice to Propp, who was in the slot and put it past Fuhr. Tied at 2!

The reason this game was so special to me, the reason I recall it here, was not just because of the excitement on the ice. I have been blessed to attend every manner of sporting events in the world — World Series, Super Bowl, NBA Finals, Olympics, major tennis championships, track meets. I’ve never heard fans as loud as I did that Thursday night in South Philadelphia. They made the building tremble — like aftershocks from an earthquake.

If the volume was dialed to 10 for the Propp goal, it was at a 15 1:24 later. That’s when J.J. Daigneault (Dane-YO!) scooped up a weak Oilers’ clear attempt. The puck waffled to him lightly just inside the blue line. And he hammered it. One-timer. With Scott Mellanby standing at the crease screening Fuhr. The Flyers had the lead 3-2!  

You couldn’t hear yourself speak let alone think. I’m telling you, Tilley and I were right up to each other’s ears trying to hear each other. Not a word. The fans were screaming and stomping and shouting and laughing. Eventually we gave up and just took it in. The roof blew off the Spectrum in its first season in 1967. It almost came off again on this night. Pow! The sheer, unchecked joy of the 17,222 (plus a few more) in attendance that night is something I will always remember. It was the joy of possibility because the Flyers had evened up the series at three games apiece. 

Really, that’s all you can ask for is possibility. Hope. They had that going to Edmonton for Game 7. And when Murray Craven scored the game’s first goal, I thought, “We’re having a parade down Broad Street!” But ... Edmonton, on its home ice, scored the next two goals and battle as the Flyers might they couldn’t get the equalizer. The Oilers added one more inside two minutes to play and that was that. The Oilers were champs. Again.

But, I’ll always hear the echo of those two Flyers goals at the Spectrum the night the team took Game 6.

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Connor McDavid gives Flyers a nightmare finish to 0-2-1 road trip

Connor McDavid gives Flyers a nightmare finish to 0-2-1 road trip

BOX SCORE

Connor McDavid and company laced up the burners and blew past the Flyers on Wednesday night at Rogers Place.

The Flyers lost to the Oilers, 6-3, to finish their three-game road trip 0-2-1.

McDavid put on a five-point show to send the Flyers back home 2-2-1 overall. Alain Vigneault's team will look to find good vibes at home after traveling to Boston, New York, Lausanne, Switzerland, Prague, Czech Republic, Philadelphia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Calgary, Alberta and Edmonton, Alberta, over a span of 24 days (including the final three preseason games).

The Flyers actually had 52 shots to Edmonton's 22. You would have never guessed it.

The Oilers are 6-1-0 and scoring ... a lot.

• If you blinked, you missed McDavid and the Oilers flipping the game upside down. Trailing, 2-1, to start the middle stanza, the Flyers were actually all over Edmonton, putting six of the period's first seven shots on goal. The Flyers had a number of chances to score an early equalizer — maybe the game takes a different turn if they do.

Alas, they did not and McDavid then decided to pounce. The 22-year-old superstar went off for a goal and two assists in fewer than four minutes. Just like that, the Flyers were in a 5-1 hole.

McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and James Neal entered with a combined 16 goals in their team's six games — more goals than six NHL teams had in the same number of games or more.

The trio did further damage against the Flyers as McDavid finished with a goal and four assists, Draisaitl two goals and an assist, and Neal an assist.

• Carter Hart had a homecoming to forget. The 21-year-old from right outside of Edmonton (Sherwood Park) allowed four goals on 14 shots. The first two were more than stoppable, the third was McDavid being the best player in the world and the fourth was a power play tally.

Hart was not good and yanked in the second period. Prior to the outing, he had stopped 75 of 80 shots faced in his first three games.

• The first 10 minutes of a game are imperative to any road team in the NHL. The Flyers fell behind early in all three games of the Western Canada swing.

Against the Canucks, they trailed 5:01 into the game. Against the Flames, 1:35 into game. And against the Oilers, 1:13 into game.

The Flyers were one of the NHL's worst first-period teams in 2018-19 with a minus-31 goal differential during the opening stanza. Through five games this season, the Flyers have been outscored 5-2 in the first period. Vigneault needs more early offense to kick his system into gear.

• After going scoreless in the Flyers' first four games, his longest drought to start a season, Jakub Voracek got on the board with a first-period power play goal. He added another man advantage goal and an assist when the game was out of reach late in the third.

The 30-year-old is a player who fuels on confidence as one goal or play can lead to points in bunches. Voracek had 12 multi-point games last season and the Flyers were 9-2-1 in those contests.

They need him to bring this mojo home.

Also, remember when it was a 1-1 game at this point?

• Travis Konecny went scoreless for the first time this season. James van Riemsdyk has 15 shots on net over the past two games but no points to show for it.

• The Flyers are back at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday to play the Stars (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP). A loud start in front of the home fans would do wonders for their confidence.

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