Second night of a back-to-back on the road – at elevation no less. Losing their goaltender midway through the game. Blocking 33 shots.
No wonder Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol was so complimentary.
”Just a gutsy effort J.J. Jansen Jersey ,” he said.
Ivan Provorov had a goal and an assist, Petr Mrazek stopped all 17 shots he faced in relief of starter Michal Neuvirth and the Flyers held off the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 on Wednesday night.
Claude Giroux also scored as the Flyers climbed into third place in the Metropolitan Division. They’re tied in points (92) with second-place Pittsburgh, with the Penguins currently holding the tiebreaker.
”Every point matters right now,” Mrazek said.
Philadelphia looked crisp early – scoring both goals in the first period – despite losing in overtime at Dallas a night earlier. Neuvirth turned back 10 shots in his first game since suffering a lower-body injury on Feb. 18, but he exited the game midway through the second period for an undisclosed reason. Hakstol had no update after the game.
Mrazek took over and was exceptional, especially in the last five minutes when the Avalanche turned up the pressure. He withstood a flurry of shots in the last few seconds, including one from Gabriel Landeskog where the red light briefly came on after the puck flew by the net.
”Those five minutes felt like 15. So long,” Mrazek said. ”Lots of blocked shots in front of me, a couple of lucky bounces today. Didn’t see, I think, one or two pucks get to my pad. Big thanks to these guys in front the last five minutes.”
Matt Nieto scored for an Avalanche team that’s on the outside of the playoff picture with five games remaining. They’ve lost three of four Jared Goff Jersey , including two of those at home where they’ve been stellar all season. The Avs are 16-4-1 at the Pepsi Center over their last 21 games.
What’s more, Colorado’s offense has suddenly gone silent with five goals now in the last four games.
”When our line goes cold we lose games,” star forward Nathan MacKinnon said. ”If we have some chances it’s up to us to bury them.”
Andrew Hammond had 31 saves during an emergency start for Semyon Varlamov, who was sidelined by an illness. Varlamov had appeared in 21 straight games for the Avalanche.
Hammond was called up from San Antonio of the American Hockey League earlier in the day as an insurance policy. It was his first appearance for Colorado after splitting time between the minors and a backup role. He also dealt with what the team called a head injury. Hammond was acquired as part of a three-team trade that sent Matt Duchene to Ottawa in November.
”I think it took me a period to get my legs under me,” said Hammond, who played in his first NHL game in more than a year. ”The unfortunate part is I guess the game-winning goal ended up being scored in that period. But as the game went on I settled in and started to feel better.”
Nieto cut it to 2-1 by poking the puck past Neuvirth at 5:36 of the second period.
Colorado pulled Hammond with around 90 seconds left but couldn’t score the equalizer despite turning up the pressure.
Giroux put the Flyers up 1-0 in the first with his 27th goal, and Provorov added another nearly eight minutes later with a blast from the blue line.
With Provorov’s score, the Flyers have 48 goals from their defensemen – the team’s most in a season since the group accounted for 52 in 1992-93.
”This is how the game is played right now,” Provorov said. ”You can’t create offense with just three forwards. You have to move and have mobile `D.’ I think that’s what we have on our team.”
NOTES: Flyers D Shayne Gostisbehere set up Giroux’s goal. Gostisbehere has five assists over his last three games. … D Andrew MacDonald had seven blocked shots. … Avs RW Sven Andrighetto missed a third straight game with a lower-body injury. … Backup G Jonathan Bernier remains sidelined as he deals with a cut on his hand that became infected. He faced some shots during a morning skate Wednesday, but didn’t have his stick.
Flyers: Host Boston on Sunday.
Avalanche: Face Chicago on Friday before a three-game trip.
More NHL hockey:
Giannis Antetokounmpo was criticized after Game 5 of Milwaukee’s Eastern Conference series against Boston for not doing more, particularly on the offensive end.
The harshest critic: Antetokounmpo Kyle Long Jersey , himself.
He took only 10 field-goal attempts, his third-lowest total of the entire season. Antetokounmpo still had a brilliant stat line, finishing only one assist shy of a triple-double, but the Bucks lost 92-87 and now go back to Milwaukee trailing the first-round matchup 3-2.
Game 6 of the Celtics-Bucks series is the lone matchup on the Thursday night NBA schedule.
”Game 6, I’ve got to come out and be more aggressive,” Antetokounmpo said. ”It’s on me. I had open shots, but they weren’t my shots so I didn’t feel comfortable taking them. … I’ve got to be more aggressive, make more plays because definitely, my teammates need me.”
It’s not like he was choosing to not be involved.
The Celtics got Marcus Smart back for Game 5, and Boston is much better defensively when he’s on the floor. Open looks seem to happen far more infrequently when Smart is out there, and the Bucks must solve that riddle or else their season is about to end.
Smart wasn’t the only defensive hero for Boston in Game 5. The Celtics put Semi Ojeleye on Antetokounmpko Marcus Cooper Jersey , and it worked as well as Boston could have hoped.
”Giannis is a heck of a player,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. ”You’re not going to be perfect against him. You’re not going to hold him down by any means. He makes plays for other people, he’s very unselfish … but we just felt like we needed a little bit more ball pressure overall, and so that was the decision to go smaller.”
If Antetokounmpko doesn’t come up bigger Thursday, it’ll be Boston going to the second round.
Here’s some of what to know going into Game 6:
CELTICS AT BUCKS
Boston leads 3-2. Game 6, 8 p.m. EDT, TNT
NEED TO KNOW: Since 2002, there have been 29 NBA teams with at least one postseason series win to their credit. The lone exception: The Bucks. It’s been 17 years since the Bucks advanced to the second round, and the Celtics are on the cusp of adding another year to Milwaukee’s wait. So far in the series, Milwaukee has outscored Boston 520-519 – which would indicate that it’s been a super-close matchup. That’s not the reality. There have been wild ebbs and flows, with one team leading by 16 points at some point in each of the last four games.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Free throws. Boston is 99 for 130 in the series from the line Kevin Huber Jersey , while Milwaukee is 68 for 100. The Bucks have been called for 30 more fouls in the series, 124-94 – which works out to six more per game.
PRESSURE IS ON: Clearly, the Bucks. They’re facing elimination, of course, so there’s the pressure. Antetokounmpko was on the Milwaukee team that won two elimination games against Chicago in 2015 (before the Bucks eventually lost that series in six games). And he also remembers the sting of last season, when the Bucks went home for Game 6 trailing Toronto 3-2 and wound up letting a pair of late leads slip in what became a season-ending loss.
INJURY UPDATE: Getting Smart back was a rare bit of good news for Boston in this injury-marred season, one where the Celtics have been without Gordon Hayward since opening night and ultimately lost Kyrie Irving for the playoffs. Smart hadn’t played in about six weeks after tearing a ligament in his right thumb, but was a clear difference-maker for the Celtics in Game 5.
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