By JAY BOEHMER
Staff Writer — firstname.lastname@example.org
Nearly twenty thousand in attendance, and plenty more waiting outside, “The Most Intimidating Fans in Hockey” certainly made their presence felt as the New Jersey Devils came down the road from Newark to pay their first playoff visit to Philadelphia.
The first period opened up in frustrating fashion as the Flyers were hit with a quick string of penalties, some of which were arguably undeserved. Despite a close call that left Braydon Coburn as the last thing stopping the puck from going in, the first two had been killed off.
It was the third consecutive kill that broke their backs, however, as Brian Rolston let rip a seeing eye shot that found its way through traffic and past Boucher for the early lead.
Fortunately, a Devils high sticking penalty soon after gave the Flyers their first power play opportunity and Kimmo Timonen cashed in, sending a slap pass through traffic to a streaking Claude Giroux for an easy tip in to tie the game at one goal apiece.
After getting back on their feet to end the first, the Flyers came out flying in the second, with a hard forecheck by the Richards, Gagne, and Carcillo line creating a turnover that led to Carcillo setting up Mike Richards in front for the go-ahead goal.
Unfortunately, more penalty trouble led to the second period becoming a Devils-dominated twenty minutes which included another Brian Rolston power play goal to tie the game.
The Flyers didn’t let that blow knock them back on their heels, and came out of their corner swinging in the third. Martin Brodeur was forced to turn into the mighty goaltender that has dominated the record books. Diving stops abound, he kept the score tied despite his team being outshot 12-3, and was able to force an overtime period.
There’s only so much a goalie can do, because eventually his team has to put the puck into the net should they hope to win (though it’s not like Marty hasn’t done that part before). Outshot 18-4 from the third period through overtime, the Devils were hoping he could keep them alive just long enough for some lucky bounce to go their way, but it wasn’t to be.
The same line that got the Flyers first go ahead goal of the night got their ultimate go ahead goal to win the game as Mike Richards created a scramble to Brodeur’s left that masked the puck going across the crease to the stick of Dan Carcillo, who slid it into the open goal to win the game in OT.
This dramatic finish topped a game mostly controlled by the Flyers, who nearly doubled their opponent’s shots (and nearly tripled the amount they themselves put on net in the series opening win). A bad bounce for an overtime loss would have been a crushing, almost insurmountable blow, but they bore down and finished the job.
That’s the kind of play you expect from a team that’s, in the words of Danny Briere, “built for the playoffs”. Let’s just hope they keep that foot on the gas pedal going forward.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Mike Richards: The captain was seen working hard all game long, and it showed as he was the difference maker last night, netting a goal of his own and getting the key assist on Carcillo’s game winner.
Claude Giroux: With several more minutes of ice time than usual after his success in the previous game, Giroux made plays and took control of the flow whenever it seemed like his team was losing it.
Penalties: Many of the calls were considered “questionable” at best, but that’s beside the point. When you go down a man eight times in a game, as the Flyers did last night, you’re going to struggle. Your best defensive players get exhausted, the opponent gets an easy opportunity to fire up their offense, and things generally just go south. The Flyers can’t keep this up if they hope to take this series or any after.
Martin Brodeur: Brodeur, who has been controlled by the Flyers for much of the season, and hasn’t looked stellar yet through the playoffs, returned to his three-time Stanley Cup champion self, stopping 31 of 34 and then some. Look for his play to be a major factor as the series goes on.