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Visit from Ed Snider's family sparks Flyers

Philadelphia avoids elimination with Game 4 victory against Washington

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- At the moment when the Philadelphia Flyers needed some inspiration the most, they got it from a familiar source.

Having failed miserably in their first attempt to honor their late founder and owner, Ed Snider, on Monday, the Flyers got it right Wednesday and kept their season alive with a 2-1 victory against the Washington Capitals in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Wells Fargo Center.

From the Flyers' inaugural season in 1967-68, Snider, who died April 11 following a two-year battle with cancer, often visited the locker room to shake his players' hands and offers some kind words. Sometimes, they would be words of congratulations following a big win, but Snider would also be there with words of encouragement following a tough loss.

Snider could not be there for the Flyers on Monday, however, following their toughest loss of the season, a humiliating 6-1 defeat in Game 3. One of the things that had made the loss so disappointing was that it came in Philadelphia's first home game after Snider's death.

The night began with so much emotion and promise; there was a pregame ceremony to honor Snider, and Michael Raffl scored 57 seconds in to put Philadelphia in front. The Flyers unraveled after that though, giving up six consecutive goals, including five on the power play and four in an ugly third period when they lost their composure.

At that low point, with the Flyers on the brink of being swept from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, came a much-needed locker room visit from Snider's family. Five of Snider's six children were there and son Jay Snider, who served as Flyers president for nearly a decade before stepping aside in 1993, addressed the team.

"Ed's kids came in and talked to us a little bit after the game and just kind of told us to keep our heads up and regroup and get back in there for Game 4 here," defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. "I think that meant a lot to a lot of guys. Guys, I think they took it kind of hard because it was such an emotional night to start the night and we got that first goal, and then the letdown after that."

MacDonald played a significant role in the Game 4 victory with his goal 3:51 into the second period ending up as the game-winner. It was a complete team effort though.

A change in net to Michal Neuvirth paid off; the former Capitals goalie made 31 saves, including 12 in the third period, to earn the victory. The Flyers power play came through finally, getting a goal from rookie Shayne Gostisbehere 5:51 into the game to set the early tone and break an 0-for-13 drought to start the series.

Video: Claude Giroux talks about the big win in Game 4

After being shorthanded nine times in Game 3, the Flyers gave the Capitals' vaunted power play two opportunities in Game 4 and killed off each. Defensemen Radko Gudas and Nick Schultz combined for 13 of Philadelphia's 29 shot blocks and were key contributors in limiting Alex Ovechkin to two shots on goal.

"I think tonight was the first game in the series that we actually enjoyed playing and enjoyed the playoffs," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said.

Giroux, who had an assist on Gostisbehere's goal for his first point of the series, said the way Game 3 ended "was pretty embarrassing."

"It was really frustrating, but this morning we had a lot of meetings," Giroux said. "We talked about how we want to look as a team and frustration is not one of them, so we took that frustration out of it and we just went out there and played the game."

Video: Michal Neuvirth talks about winning Game 4

Getting that visit from Snider's children also served as a reminder of how they had gotten this far, with hard work and a late-season surge to get into the playoffs as the Eastern Conference's second wild card.

"We were so used to seeing Mr. Snider in this dressing room, whether it's good or bad, and to have his family members in, especially being down 3-0, and saying a quick couple of words means a ton," forward Brayden Schenn said. "Guys were pretty down at the time, and when you see how proud the family is in how hard we work, it's nice to have that support from them."

There was a host of former Flyers in attendance Wednesday, including Dave Poulin, Simon Gagne, Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen and Daniel Briere, as well as Wayne Gretzky, the NHL's all-time leading scorer who had become good friends with Snider over the years. They'll all be at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday for the public memorial service for Snider.

"Ed, he was Mr. Flyers, he was everything," MacDonald said. "It will be sad, but it will be great to be able to remember him and see everyone that comes for it. It's just a great way to honor a great man that brought everything to this city."

The current Flyers will also be there to take part in the ceremony before heading to Washington for Game 5 on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, CSN-PH, CSN-DC). That was part of their motivation for Game 4 as well. They wanted to extend this season for at least more game.

"It would have been tough to go to that (memorial service) with your season over," Schenn said. "So, we're happy we can take this to a Game 5 and I think everybody is looking forward to paying their respects to Mr. Snider tomorrow."

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