Quietly Confident Michal Neuvirth Flyers' ‘backbone' in Game 4

Michal Neuvirth used to get under Ryan White's skin.

Whenever the Flyers' goalie denied one of his shots, Neuvirth would be sure to remind White about it.

Call it a quiet cockiness.

"He'll make a save on you and he'll show you the puck out of his glove or he gives it to you for not putting it in the net," White said.

"As I got to be one of his buddies, he would start pushing my buttons and I'd get a little pissed at him sometimes."

Neuvirth needed that bravado Wednesday night in place of Steve Mason. The backup netminder was making only his second start in 35 days. It just so happened to come with the Flyers down 3-0 in their best-of-seven first-round playoff series, staring elimination in the face against the NHL-best Capitals - Neuvirth's former team.

So with barely any game action down the stretch because of an injury, Neuvirth had to rely on staying mentally fit. His name got called for Game 4 and he answered, making 31 saves as the Flyers took down the Capitals, 2-1, at the Wells Fargo Center to push the series back to the nation's capital for at least one more game (see story).

"I thought he was confident and dialed in throughout the game," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. "You could see it this morning, he was excited to have the opportunity to get in there. And with Neuvy, as he gets towards game time, he's just very relaxed."

Despite it being his first playoff start since May 4, 2011, Neuvirth was silently confident.

"I mean, it's just the playoffs," he said. "I love playing in the playoffs. I've had good playoffs in the past. I believe in myself and I like it."

Neuvirth's biggest challenge came in the third period when Washington revved it up a notch trailing 2-0. The Capitals scored in the opening 2:38 of the final frame and came hard in pursuit of the potential game-tying marker.

Neuvirth never broke.

"Unbelievable," Wayne Simmonds said of Neuvirth. "He stole one there for us at the end. That's what we need. Both goalies, you know Mason has been playing great for us all year long. It was up to us to get a couple goals for [Neuvirth].

"We got a couple goals and he brought it home for us."

Neuvirth made 12 saves in the third period as the Capitals dominated possession and had their former netminder under siege.

"He gets up for these big games," said, Shayne Gostisbehere, who scored a goal. "Mase and him have been a great tandem all year and the way they've played, it's been pretty amazing.

"He was our backbone tonight."

Claude Giroux agreed with Simmonds' sentiment.

"In the third period there, we don't keep that lead if he's not standing on his head," Giroux said. "It was pretty impressive."

Looking ahead to Game 5, it would be difficult to take Neuvirth out of net.

Another start likely awaits.

"We live for another day," Neuvirth said, "and we are going to try our best to bring the series back to Philly."

As for White, he'll put up with Neuvirth's jabs when he plays like this.

"He's been a good team player all year," White said. "I'm happy for him tonight."

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