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Stadium Series diary: Andrew MacDonald

Flyers defenseman talks about comeback, importance of game on season, Simmonds

by Andrew MacDonald / Special to NHL.com

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald is keeping a diary of his experiences at the 2019 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The Flyers scored two goals in the final 3:04 of regulation before Claude Giroux completed the comeback 1:59 into overtime for a 4-3 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. 

In his final installment, MacDonald talks about the game, the importance of the victory, and Wayne Simmonds.

PHILADELPHIA -- We tried to make today as normal as possible. We came in for a morning meeting at 10:30 a.m., hung out for a little bit, and tried to do a normal game-day routine for an 8 p.m. game. 

I left home at about 5:15 p.m. and then getting around the stadium, there was quite a bit of traffic, got held up in that a little bit. I got in here about 5:40 and started normal game prep, some video, then you get into your warmups. Before you know it, it's time to get out on the ice.

Walking out of the tunnel, it was a pretty cool experience. You hear Lou Nolan announcing that we're coming out. Except it's in a much larger venue and that voice carries a lot more. As soon as you come out you hear the cheers, the excitement in the crowd. Then you finally make your way to the ice and just try to have a normal warmup again, or as normal as you can.

 

[RELATED: Stadium Series Diary: Jared McCann | Complete Stadium Series coverage]

 

Unfortunately, I didn't see Gritty's big entrance. When we came out for the national anthem right before the game started, I saw him with the lights on his jersey, buzzing around. We came out, went up on the steps and he was coming across. I don't know if they were cheering for the players or cheering for Gritty. That was pretty cool.

When we went out for warmups there was a drizzle, but it wasn't too bad. It was fine in the first period. The second period the rain stopped it was pretty clear, pretty clean. The third the rain picked up quite a bit and it was kind of making a difference out there at times.

Even when we were behind late, I think we were all on board with believing we could win that game. Right before Jakub Voracek scored to tie it, about 30 seconds before they iced it, coach Scott Gordon said no shot's a bad shot. Then Jake was down the wall with it and throws it at the net. I'm still not sure how it went in, whether it went off the defenseman. We were all ecstatic on the bench, jumping around, excited. Not just because of the game here and how important it is, but how big it was for us from a standings standpoint.

Then Moose (goalie Brian Elliott) made some big saves there in overtime. They had a few good chances, but he stood tall. Then, obviously, a tremendous effort by G (Claude Giroux) getting himself in a position to get a shot off. We were really proud of our effort and happy with the result.

After the game, in the room, it got a little emotional. We hand out a player of the game helmet after wins and Oskar Lindblom had the helmet from the last game. He handed it off to G. Then in a first-time move, G handed it off to Jake. Jake said right away that he intended if he ever got it to make sure he gave it to Wayne Simmonds

Obviously, the questions are swirling about his future here and that stuff, and we just wanted to make sure that he got the acknowledgement that he deserves. Whether he's going to be here or not on Monday afternoon for Tuesday's game (against Buffalo Sabres), that remains to be seen. But Jake and Simmer are real tight, they have been throughout their whole time here. It's a special moment between them and great for all of us to be able to acknowledge Simmer in case that he's not going to be here. 

Hopefully he is.

The win tonight was critical. After the loss to Tampa Bay (5-2 on Tuesday), we took a breather, looked at what we were able to accomplish over the last 20 games. We had to do that in order to give ourselves a chance. Then we knew the next four games were against pivotal opponents that we're chasing down. Didn't have a great effort against Montreal (5-1 loss Thursday), which is a team we're chasing. We knew tonight was a critical game for us at this point in the season. Knowing we have Buffalo coming up and Columbus as well, they're all huge games and teams that we're chasing. To drop this one would have been pretty heartbreaking, but thankfully we stuck with it, we grinded it out and we were able to come up with a huge two points.

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