Samuel Morin

Flyers 5, Maple Leafs 4: Living to see another day after shootout win

Flyers 5, Maple Leafs 4: Living to see another day after shootout win

BOX SCORE

The Flyers are still alive. 

Hardly alive, but for now at least.

By virtue of tiebreakers, the Flyers would have been eliminated from playoff contention Wednesday night with a regulation loss.

They avoided such a scenario by picking up a 5-4 shootout win over the Maple Leafs at the Wells Fargo Center. Sean Couturier was the only player to score in the skills competition, while Carter Hart stopped all five attempts he faced (kind of), along with converting 38 saves.

Still, after a 2-5-0 stretch, the Flyers (37-32-8) entered Wednesday with a 0.0 percent chance to make the playoffs by Hockey-Reference.com and SportsClubStats.com.

If the Canadiens beat the Blue Jackets Thursday night, the Flyers will be knocked out for good with five games remaining.

With the victory, the Flyers avoided a season sweep to the Maple Leafs (45-25-7), improving to 1-7-2 this season against contenders Toronto, Washington and Tampa Bay.

• It was nice to see the Flyers exhibit some fight in the second period. Nobody wants to be booted out of the playoff race in front of the home fans. The Flyers erased a 2-0 deficit in the middle stanza with goals from Travis Konecny, Radko Gudas and Couturier.

The goal by Couturier gave him a new career high of 32. He does so much and has been the team's most valuable player — and he's only 26.

• How about Auston Matthews? This play was unreal and tied the game early in the third period.

Things went back and forth afterward, with Ryan Hartman regaining the lead for the Flyers before William Nylander tied it back up 2:33 later.

• A few notes about the Travis boys.

For Travis Sanheim, he finished with two assists after going scoreless in his last eight games.

For Konecny, he scored his first goal in the last nine games. The biggest area in which the 22-year-old can improve next season is consistency.

• Samuel Morin, who had been recovering from a torn ACL suffered in May 2018, made his season debut and played in his first NHL game since Nov. 24, 2017.

With Morin entering the lineup, the Flyers rolled with seven defensemen and 11 forwards. Morin, a 2013 first-round pick, finished with 8:09 ice time, three hits and three blocked shots. He'll see more audition time over the final five games.

Shayne Gostisbehere played only 12:59 and was a minus-2.

• Nolan Patrick made an excellent play to intercept a pass in front during the second period of a 2-2 game, preventing a possible goal. Patrick's defensive responsibilities are always there if the offense isn't, which is important for the 20-year-old. Not long after, the Flyers went ahead on Couturier's goal.

• The Maple Leafs showed off their speed and skill in the opening period to hand the Flyers a 2-0 deficit.

The first goal was a product of great offense. Tyler Ennis made a superb reverse pass behind the net to Connor Brown, catching Gostisbehere and Hartman off-guard in coverage.

The second goal, Toronto was hungrier for the puck as the Flyers failed to break out and the Maple Leafs pounced with Nazem Kadri scoring.

• Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera was in the house. The Phillies' anticipated 2019 opener is Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

• The Flyers play three of their final five games on the road, starting Saturday in Carolina against the Hurricanes (1:30 p.m./NBCSP).

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Flyers' Samuel Morin the latest reminder of be ready for 2019-20

Flyers' Samuel Morin the latest reminder of be ready for 2019-20

VOORHEES, N.J. — Samuel Morin thought he was in for another morning of extra preparation. He had gotten pretty used to those types of days in the arduous recovery from a torn ACL suffered on May 9, 2018.

When he rolled into Flyers Skate Zone Wednesday, he finally heard the sweet sound of "you're playing."

"I wasn't even ready for it," Morin said with a smile after morning skate. "I was driving here, having a normal day, not playing, getting ready to bag skate, having a cup of coffee and some rumor was going around the room that I was playing and I was like, 'What the hell?'"

Apparently the news of Morin entering the lineup Wednesday night against the Maple Leafs couldn't be contained with all the excitement for the 6-foot-7 defenseman. Morin hasn't played an NHL game since Nov. 24, 2017. He played just 15 regular-season games last season with the Phantoms because of several lower-body injuries before tearing his ACL in the AHL playoffs.

On Wednesday, Morin tried getting assistant coach Kris Knoblauch to spill the beans.

"On the ice, I went to Knobber, 'Am I playing?'" Morin said. "He wouldn't tell me. I kind of figured it out and was surprised. I was happy and I got a good night of sleep last night, too."

Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon was happy to tell Morin the not-so-breaking news.

"[The coaches] talked about it at length [Tuesday] and he already knew before I told him," Gordon said. "Maybe the joke was on me, right?

"It's been a long road back for him. It's great that he's able to get in, all the hard work that he's put into it, to be able to get rewarded and play some games this year just to ease the burden of having not played for most of the year and get ready for training camp."

The key words there are "get ready."

There's already anticipation for 2019-20 with the Flyers on the brink of elimination from this season's playoff race (see story). There will be competition among the defensemen. Philippe Myers is here and looks primed for a full-time role. Now, Morin is about to see his chance as the focus starts to shift to next season, an important one for the Flyers, who haven't missed the playoffs in consecutive years since the 1992-93 and 1993-94 campaigns.

So while the final six games on the Flyers' schedule equate to little for 2018-19, they mean a ton for Morin and next season's picture.

"This month, it was me alone on the ice and skating," Morin said. "That was really hard, that was the hardest part I think, being alone out there and guys are playing. Me, I just had to be ready, I was trying to keep a smile on my face. It was not easy. At the end, I was like, 'Can I play a game?' But you wake up in the morning, put a smile on your face and don't try to show it. Have fun.

"My year last year was pretty hard mentally. You make the squad at the beginning of the year and you get sent down after a really good camp. Playing really well down there, then bad luck after bad luck after bad luck. It was just a tough year last year and then it transitioned into this year because of my knee. I'm healthy and ready to go back into it."

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Flyers vs. Maple Leafs: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Maple Leafs: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers (36-32-8) will try to fend off elimination Wednesday night when they host the Maple Leafs (45-25-6).

Here are the essentials:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• By virtue of tiebreakers, the Flyers can be eliminated from playoff contention tonight with a regulation loss.

The Flyers are 10 points back of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot with six games remaining. After a 2-5-0 stretch, they would need an absolute miracle to qualify for the postseason. In fact, both Hockey-Reference.com and SportsClubStats.com give the Flyers a 0.0 percent chance to make the playoffs.

Regardless, interim head coach Scott Gordon expects his team to play hard.

I think they're all pros and they know the right way and the wrong way to play the game.

I don't have any doubts that our guys will play well.

• Samuel Morin hasn't played in a competitive hockey game since May 9, 2018, when he suffered a torn ACL during the Phantoms' five-overtime playoff victory. His last NHL game was Nov. 24, 2017.

That will all change tonight as the 6-foot-7 defenseman enters the lineup. Not only has Morin completed a lengthy recovery from an ACL injury, but he also played just 15 regular-season games last season with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley because of several lower-body injuries.

"My road to recovery has been pretty weird," Morin said Wednesday after morning skate. "It'll be a story to tell later. Just don't give up."

Morin, the Flyers' 2013 first-round pick, said this game feels more meaningful than his NHL debut on April 4, 2017 (see story).

"I think it's bigger, to be honest," he said. "My first NHL game, big hype obviously, but I played all year and had a good year. This is crazy, just playing a game."

With Morin making his season debut, the Flyers will play seven defensemen and 11 forwards, which they've done plenty under Gordon.

• Michael Raffl took the ice knowing he's back in the Flyers' picture for two more years. The pending unrestricted free agent wasn't traded at the Feb. 25 deadline and was re-signed to a two-year extension Tuesday, a deal worth less than his current contract (see story).

The 30-year-old forward has played only for the Flyers in his career and didn't want to leave. However, the decision wasn't just about being comfortable.

It's not always good to be in a comfort zone in your life. As I said, though, I love it here and at this point in my career, you look to go somewhere where you have a chance to have success and a chance to win. I feel very confident in this group and things that are coming up. I think it's going to be a bright future for the Flyers and I'm happy that I can be a part of it for two more years.

• Since beating the Flyers, 7-6, in a wild game March 15, the Maple Leafs have lost three of their last five games, with two of those defeats coming against the Senators and Rangers.

Projected lineup

Forwards
James van Riemsdyk-Nolan Patrick-Claude Giroux
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Travis Konecny-Scott Laughton-Ryan Hartman
Michael Raffl-Corban Knight

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Travis Sanheim
Shayne Gostisbehere-Philippe Myers
Robert Hagg-Radko Gudas
Samuel Morin

Goalies
Carter Hart
Cam Talbot

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers