By JAY BOEHMER
Staff Writer — firstname.lastname@example.org
Two days after their series opening 2-1 win, the Flyers were looking to steal another game from the clutches of New Jersey and the screaming Prudential Center fans. In Flyers’ history, they’ve won the first two games of a series 16 times, with only one pair coming on the road. Most importantly, Philadelphia has never lost a playoff series after taking the first pair of games.
If anyone in that locker room knew these stats, it should have give them an extra bit of fuel to outplay their NJ Turnpike counterparts. The only question is whether they could have gone any harder for a full sixty minutes of play.
This game was everything the first one was and then some. Hard and fast. Quick rushes both ways, with the goalies being tested throughout, and hard checks to pile the bruises on.
Unfortunately, it was the Devils who capitalized first on one of these fast rushes as Patrik Elias stole the puck from Matt Carle on a Flyers power play and sprung Zach Parise for a breakaway backhander.
Claude Giroux was the main orchestrator of the next two goals, threading the needle to set up an Arron Asham tip in and deflecting one of his own past Marty Brodeur off a Matt Carle wrist shot.
Up by one goal going into the second, the Flyers did their best not to back off, and keep the offense firing.
Colin White had other ideas as he fired a shot through traffic to beat Boucher and tie the game at two goals apiece.
The Devils spent much of the second on a frustrating parade to the penalty box, though the Flyers power play was unable to take advantage. Eventually, it was New Jersey who found themselves a man up and Elias set up a cutting Andy Greene to take the lead.
With less than two minutes left, as penalties continued to be handed out both ways, Philadelphia ended up on a 4-on-3 power play. Chris Pronger planted himself alone in front of Brodeur and provided a quality screen and was able to deflect a Kimmo Timonen shot through to tie the game back up.
In the waning minutes of the third, with the Flyers’ weakest defensive line of Ryan Parent and Oskars Bartulis was caught scrambling as the Devils snuck their top line onto the ice and took advantage with Zach Parise putting home a rebound for the lead topped off with a Kovalchuk empty net goal for the 5-3 final score.
While not the result they wanted, the Flyers have plenty of positives to take from this game. In the previous contest, they struggled to get any real offense going, and had a tough time scoring on Brodeur. Last night, they didn’t have nearly as much trouble.
Unfortunately, it comes down to whether they can keep the puck out of their own net, and despite Brian Boucher once again stepping up with more than a handful of show stopping saves, four pucks got past him.
If they can manage to bring the best of these first two games home with them, the tight defense of the first and the opened up offense of the second, this series should go back the Flyers’ way before long.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Brian Boucher: Another great showing by Boucher, who will likely be a star player throughout these playoffs, who stopped 28 of 32 shots. Four goals is a high number, but he did his job. He simply needs a higher level of support.
Claude Giroux: Leading his line of Arron Asham and James van Riemsdyk (and later Scott Hartnell), Giroux seemed to be all over the ice. He was a physical presence, drawing multiple calls (and some plays that were overlooked by the boys in the black and white stripes), and setting up his usual brand of pretty plays.
Special Teams: The Devils, the 3rd least penalized team throughout the regular season, took several undisciplined penalties in this contest that led to seven Flyers power plays, of which they were able to cash in on two. The Flyers, on the other hand, kept themselves out of the box for the most part, with a couple of the penalties being necessary to take, and others being outright questionable calls.
Patrik Elias: His three assists including some of the Devils’ most important plays, from the set up on the opening goal to the second and third that tied the game and gave the Devils the lead in the second period.