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  • Sean Couturier did what he could to deal with the pain in his left leg Cheap Kemoko Turay Jersey , then hopped over the boards and let the adrenaline that comes with playoff hockey take care of the rest.

     

    The Philadelphia Flyers are still alive as a result.

    Barely 72 hours removed from a frightening collision with a teammate in practice threatened to end his season, Couturier returned for Game 5 and threaded a shot through traffic that slipped past Matt Murray and into the net with 1:15 left to lift the Flyers to a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night to send the series back to Philadelphia.

    ”I think it might have hit one of their guys,” Couturier said. ”Lucky bounce, but we’ll take them.”

    The Flyers certainly need them. They still trail 3-2 heading into Game 6 on Sunday but counterpunched effectively against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.

    Valtteri Filppula’s short-handed goal tied it late in the second period shortly after the Penguins had taken the lead and Couturier’s second goal of the playoffs was a knuckler that deflected off Pittsburgh defenseman Brian Dumoulin and by a surprised Murray.

    Claude Giroux picked up his first goal of the series and Matt Read added an empty-netter. Michal Neuvirth stopped 30 shots, including a diving stop on the doorstep to deny Penguins star Sidney Crosby with 50 seconds left.

    ”I like playing in the playoffs, like facing the pressure,” Neuvirth said after making his first start in more than two months in place of struggling Brian Elliott. ”But it’s only one game and we came here to win a hockey game. We did that. Now we have to win the next one.”

    Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust scored for the Penguins. Murray made 21 saves but Pittsburgh missed a chance to close out the Flyers thanks in part to a slow start and a power play that was the best in the league during the regular season went 0 for 5.

    ”I thought the second and third (periods) we were much better,” Crosby said. ”We ended up making a couple mistakes that ended up in our net.”

    Mistakes that injected some actual tension into a series devoid of it coming in. The first four games were blowouts on the scoreboard if not always on the ice, three of them ending with the Flyers skating off the ice wondering what they needed to do to keep pace with cross-state rivals.

    Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol, perhaps fighting for his job Rashaan Gaulden Color Rush Jersey , made his first significant change in an effort to keep his team’s season alive, giving Neuvirth his first playoff start in nearly two years after Elliott couldn’t shake out of a funk that saw him pulled in Game 1 and again in Game 4.

    The Flyers also Couturier back to center the third line just three days after teammate Radko Gudas accidentally took him out during a drill in practice that forced Couturier to watch Pittsburgh’s clinical 5-0 Game 4 romp from the press box.

    There was no need for change in Pittsburgh, which has developed a killer instinct under coach Mike Sullivan it lacked at times earlier in the Crosby/Evgeni Malkin era. The Penguins came in 8-5 in potential close-out games since Sullivan took over in December 2015, including a 5-2 mark at home.

    Make it 5-3.

    Giroux, a non-factor through much of the series, gave Philadelphia the lead 17:29 into the first when he found some space in the slot and took a pretty feed from behind the Pittsburgh net by Jakub Voracek to pump a shot by Murray.

    The Penguins replied with two goals in a 4:45 span in the second for the first lead change of the series. Bryan Rust beat Neuvirth with a wrap around 12 minutes into the second for his ninth career goal in a potential elimination game. Guentzel then took a feed from Crosby and slipped it between Neuvirth’s legs to put Pittsburgh in front.

    The Flyers, for the first time since Game 2, responded. Now Philadelphia has to do it again at home, a place where the Penguins outscored the Flyers 10-1 while rolling in Games 3 and 4.

    ”We have to keep battling next game and play the with same kind of mentality,” Couturier said. ”It was a road game. We didn’t put a show on Kyle Lauletta Color Rush Jersey , but we kept it tight and found a way to win.”

    NOTES: Penguins F Patric Hornqvist missed his second straight game due to an upper-body injury. Hornqvist did skate earlier Friday and remains day-to-day. … Malkin missed the final 4 minutes of the first period after Philadelphia’s Jori Lehtera fell on it when the two got tangled in the corner. Malkin returned to start the second period.

    Blake Bortles might not be the long-term answer in Jacksonville.

    He is, however, the short-term starter.

    The Jaguars signed Bortles to a three-year, $54 million deal Saturday that will keep him under contract through the 2020 season. The deal includes $26.5 million guaranteed.

    ”I definitely was looking forward to the opportunity of this happening, and knowing that it was done and now in the rear-view mirror, we can move on and get back to just worrying about football and not having to deal with money and contracts and all that stuff,” Bortles said during a conference call with reporters. ”Either way, however this went, I don’t think it would have had a ton of effect on how I feel. Thrilled to be able to stay here and playing Jacksonville and fired up to continue to work with the guys that are here.”

    The team announced the move one day after handing out two-year extensions to top executive Tom Coughlin, coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell.

    Re-signing the 25-year-old Bortles is an indication how the front office and coaching staff feel about their current roster: They want to keep as many pieces in place for another run at the Super Bowl.

    The Jaguars (10-6) won the AFC South for the first time in team history and made the playoffs for the first time in a decade. They advanced to the AFC title game for the first time since 2000 Orlando Cepeda Jersey , losing to New England 24-20 after having a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.

    Bortles showed signs of progress in his fourth year despite playing 19 games with a partially torn ligament in his right wrist that required surgery last month. He completed a career-high 60 percent of his passes for 3,687 yards, with 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

    ”Blake’s growth and development last season was a key to the success we had as a team,” Coughlin said in a statement. ”Blake has proven, with toughness and dependability, that he can be the leader this team needs going forward. Along with this contract come high expectations that he will continue to improve and help our team accomplish its ultimate goal.”

    He played in the first year of coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s system and with four rookies – including running back Leonard Fournette and left tackle Cam Robinson – on offense. He also lost top target Allen Robinson on the opening series of the season opener.

    So the Jags believe Bortles’ best years are ahead. But they aren’t committed to him beyond the next few seasons.

    Extending Bortles should give the team more cap space heading into free agency. The Jags entered the day with about $20 million to spend in 2018.

    They freed up $3.6 million by cutting backup running back Chris Ivory on Friday and could gain $7 million more by parting ways with backup receiver Allen Hurns.

    There had been plenty of speculation the Jaguars would turn to free agency or the draft to replace Bortles. The Jags sent a strong message by locking up Bortles weeks before free agency.

    Still, Bortles has flaws to fix. He need to be more accurate, especially in tight spaces, and has to be better adept at getting the offense out of bad plays and into better ones.

    Regardless, he outperformed expectations when Marrone and Coughlin built the offense to pound the ball on the ground Martavis Bryant Color Rush Jersey , take advantage of play-action passes and avoid shootouts with stout defense.

    Bortles’ toughness was another reason he gained respect in the locker room and from the coaching staff. He hasn’t missed a snap because of injury and handled constant criticism – including almost weekly shots from fellow players – in stride.

    ”I have said it all along: I think Blake is one of the toughest people I have ever met, and I’m talking about his mental and physical toughness,” Marrone said. ”He never lets the outside noise get him away from where his focus is, which is always on being a great teammate and being a great leader for our organization.”

    Even more important to the Jaguars, Bortles avoided game-changing mistakes. Entering the 2017 season, Bortles had as many victories (11) as interceptions returned for touchdowns. He turned the ball over a career-low 16 times last season after averaging 21 in each of his first three seasons.

    ”I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Blake mature and progress for the past four years, and the one thing that I admire the most about him is his attitude,” veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis said. ”He is an ultimate competitor and will do whatever he can to help the team win. That’s his only goal.”

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