Gostisbehere leads Flyers to key win, breaks franchise record

Gostisbehere

Shayne Gostisbehere has become a household name. Since getting called up in November to replace injured defenseman Mark Streit, Gostisbehere has been about as dominant as a rookie defenseman can possibly be. The story was no different Monday night when Gostisbehere scored two goals to lift the Flyers to a crucial victory against the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning, snapping Tampa Bay’s nine-game winning streak.

In doing so, Gostisbehere set yet another record, this time another franchise mark. He now holds the record for the most goals scored by a rookie defenseman in Philadelphia Flyers history. His 14th goal of the season surpassed Behn Wilson, who scored 13 goals in the 1978-1979 season.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” Gostisbehere said about the record. “There’s a lot of history, especially with our team. It’s a good feeling.”

Philadelphia’s 4-2 win put the Flyers within two points of the Detroit Red Wings for the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Flyers now have 17 games remaining but will face Detroit twice. The Penguins hold the other wildcard spot and are now three points ahead of the Flyers.

One thing is certain: the Flyers will need Shayne Gostisbehere to continue to score key goals at key points in key games. Each of the 14 goals Gostisbehere has scored this season has changed the lead of the game. That means he has scored 14 meaningful goals, including several overtime game-winners.

“Obviously he’s clutch,” Brayden Schenn, who scored the game-winning goal, said about Gostisbehere. “He’s got that shot from the point and he finds those openings. He’s been great ever since he stepped into our lineup and we’re only gonna need him to get better here in the last [17] games.”

Gostisbehere’s first goal of the night, coming on the team’s 30th shot of the game, tied the game at 1-1; his second goal gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead in the third period. The Flyers had been dominant throughout the game, limiting Tampa Bay to three shots in the first period and six in the second period. Further, Philadelphia put 22 shots on net in the second period, the most by the Flyers in a single period all season. Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was sensational, however, which is why the Flyers couldn’t find the back of the net until Gostisbehere scored at 16:51 of the second. Gostisbehere scored the next goal at 7:21 of the third. Schenn extended the Flyers’ lead with a goal at 13:57. Though the Lightning scored to come within one less than a minute later, the Flyers kept up the forecheck and continued to push the play until Wayne Simmonds scored an empty-net goal to seal the game at 19:33 of the third.

The victory capped a 5-1 record for the Flyers in the team’s crucial six-game homestand.

“I think we all know we’re fighting for our lives right now and the crowd was in it tonight right from the get-go,” Schenn said in his post-game interview. “I think those are the fun games to play, when the crowd is rowdy and you have to battle against a good team, and we did that tonight.”

Gostisbehere continues to be a part of the conversation for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. Though Chicago’s Artemi Panarin almost certainly will come away with the prize, it is very telling that so many consider Gostisbehere a candidate even though he has only played 47 games this season. Scoring 37 points in 47 games, as well as setting NHL records for the longest point-streak by a rookie with 15 and trailing only Jack Eichel in power-play goals by a rookie certainly explain the buzz surrounding the 22-year-old.

Even Gostisbehere admits that he is surprised about how things have unfolded. However, he knows there is room for growth.

“You learn a lot as experience comes,” Gostisbehere said. “It’s been a fun ride. I’m learning more and more every day. I’m a sponge and I’m gonna keep learning and hopefully get better.

“I didn’t expect anything like this to happen. It’s about taking everything in stride and staying within yourself.”

Philadelphia’s next game is against the Lightning in Tampa Bay on Friday. The team is then set to face five playoff teams in a row, including the Red Wings and Penguins. However, the team understands every game is critical.

“It’s huge for us to get points in every game we’re playing right now,” Gostisbehere said. “Every game is a playoff game to us. It’s very important to get those points.”
 
 
Featured Image Credit: Bruce Bennett-Getty Images