PITTSBURGH — Standing in the visitor’s locker room at PPG Paints Arena, Ivan Provorov joked it’s the reason why he puts himself through such a rigorous offseason training regimen.
He may not be considered the fastest or most elusive skater, but Provorov’s effort with 1:18 remaining in regulation was arguably the best non-Carter Hart save of the season.
An empty-net goal would have given the Penguins a 2-0 lead and would have turned the lights out on the Flyers' postseason chances.
Now, there’s a glimmer with the Flyers pulling within six points of the Columbus Blue Jackets after a 2-1 overtime win Sunday night (see observations).
Provorov outraced Nick Bjugstad just in the nick of time, as well as Patric Hornqvist, as he was able to send the puck to the boards.
“I had no doubt in my mind,” Provorov said. “At that point, you’re giving everything you have and for the team a lot of guys did that tonight.”
Another element of that play that doesn’t get discussed is how Provorov maintained his balance following his lunging dive and didn’t lift the net off its pegs, which may have resulted in a penalty and/or a faceoff in the Flyers' end of the ice, resulting in Hart having to come back out onto the ice.
“He saved the game, he saved the game,” Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said. “I don’t know where he was in his shift, but it looked like [Bjugstad] had a little bit more jump in his step. He was able to get himself in position and swipe at it so they couldn’t get an opportunity.”
Thankfully for Provorov and the Flyers, he had just stepped out onto the ice just 10 seconds earlier, but nonetheless, an impressive game-saving play when the Flyers needed it most.
And perhaps even season-saving.
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