- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 23, 2016

Somehow, Michal Neuvirth seemed unfazed by it all. Moments after he made a franchise playoff-record 44 saves in the Philadelphia Flyers’ 2-0 victory against the Washington Capitals on Friday, he was still so locked in.

It was as if Neuvirth was ready to go back out on the ice for another 20 minutes — another period of highlight-reel saves to keep the Capitals from ever scoring a goal — all while acknowledging the biting reality that the Flyers still trail, 3-2, in the series.

“It feels good, but this is a team game and every guy stepped up,” Neuvirth said. “We need to be at our best and we were. It’s a big win for us.

“We’re still down in a series and still got work to do,” he later added.

Neuvirth was being diplomatic about his efforts. His teammates, such as Claude Giroux, left no doubt that the Flyers’ goaltender was the reason they stole the game.

“The way he worked, it was pretty amazing,” Giroux said. “We did the best we could in front of them trying to eliminate the high-quality chances and they were shooting pucks from everywhere. He did a good job of controlling rebounds. It was pretty impressive.

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“They came at us pretty hard and if it’s not for Neuvy, we’re not winning this game. We’ve got to be better.

The Flyers know they were fortunate to escape Friday’s game with a victory to force Game 6 at Wells Fargo Center on Sunday. Washington out-shot Philadelphia, 44-11. The Flyers landed six shots on goal in the first period and a total of just five in the final 40 minutes.

Yet, somehow, they were leading after the second period. At the 7:52 mark, Flyers right wing Ryan White flicked an errant shot that ricocheted off Capitals defenseman Taylor Chorney’s skate and past goaltender Braden Holtby. With 31 seconds remaining in the game, left wing Chris VandeVelde scored an empty-net goal.

Philadelphia, by its own admission, did not play its best game, yet it found a way to beat Washington on a night when several Flyers players believed they faced the Capitals’ greatest effort of the series.

“They were buzzing pretty good the whole game, coming at us really good,” Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. “Put us back on our heels a bit there and we never quite were able to recover and sustain our forechecks and breaking out of the zone and stuff. But, when you have an effort like that in net, it’s obviously a great feeling and great confidence.”

In a series in which the Flyers once trailed, 3-0, it’s critical that they bring that confidence to Philadelphia on Sunday. Whether they gained any style points in the process hardly matters.

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White was asked about his shot in the second period, the fluky nature of which he scored and he owned it.

“If that’s what it takes to get it by [Holtby], they’re not going to be pretty on him,” White said. “I was just trying to put it in myself. It went off the skate. Doesn’t matter how they go. I’m sure you’re not going to be asking me tomorrow.”

After all, White is right. By Saturday, it won’t matter and when the puck drops on Sunday, it will be long forgotten. The Flyers are understand they need to do it all again to keep their playoff hopes alive.

• Anthony Gulizia can be reached at agulizia@washingtontimes.com.

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