By JAY BOEHMER
Staff Writer — firstname.lastname@example.org
A desperate Devils team showed up at the Wachovia Center to play, knowing that their backs were already against the wall. Going down 3-1 in the series would spell almost certain doom. They needed to show up, take control, and steal a much needed road win.
If recent history means anything, things looked good for the Flyers, as Marty Brodeur had lost his last seven games in Philadelphia.
The first period started off as a mirror image of the Sunday night matchup as the Flyers were slapped with a string of penalties, sending three to the box, including Chris Pronger and Mike Richards. With a 5-on-3 advantage, Ilya Kovalchuk was finally able to let his skill show and rip a shot through traffic and past Brian Boucher for a go ahead goal.
The Flyers were able to generate some momentum as the period came to a close, but were unable to carry it through the intermission the way they would have hoped. They were saved by a pair of Devils penalties in the first ten minutes that set up a Jeff Carter goal in a similar fashion to Kovalchuk’s.
This, Carter’s first of the series and first since coming back from his late season injury, tied the game at one to set up a Flyers comeback.
Our boys in the orange and black were subject to another series of penalties, with the last one being a tripping call on Matt Carle soon after his linemate Chris Pronger had been tripped. Pronger argued the call with the refs, who seemed to take his advice to heart as they turned around and called Travis Zajac for a questionable cross check a mere 7 seconds later.
That set up a 4-on-4, wide open play to let Danny Briere fly down the right wing a blast a slapshot past Brodeur to set up a 2-1 lead going into the third and final period.
Early in the third, a line of Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Dan Carcillo was mixed up to replace Simon Gagne, who left the game after blocking a hard shot. They were able to work a hard forecheck to set up a Dan Carcillo turnaround shot as he came up from below the goal line.
This back breaking goal brought a hefty collapse upon the Devils, who took four minor penalties (and two ten minute misconducts) of their own as the third period went on. Jeff Carter showed up on the scoreboard again, cashing in on a two man advantage as he slammed home a Chris Pronger rebound.
Carter’s second goal of the night sealed the Flyers’ 4-1 win to go ahead two games in the series with only one game left to move on.
The Flyers return to Newark for Game 5, looking to clinch this quarterfinal series. Going back, the Flyers have won 17 of 20 series in which they took a three games to one lead. Watching the way this New Jersey team seemed to simply give up through the final two periods, there is a good chance the Flyers won’t have to worry about coming back home for a Game 6.
Good news is that some of the Flyers’ leading scorers, namely Danny Briere and Jeff Carter, who have been kept of the scoreboard thus far in the series, found the puck to the back of the net. If they can get hot, along with secondary scorers like Dan Carcillo getting pucks in the net, this Philadelphia offense should sail smoothly.
The bad news, of course, is that with Simon Gagne leaving the game with an undisclosed lower body injury after blocking a pair of hard shots in the second, that same offensive power may lose one of its key members. His will be a tricky spot to fill on the top scoring line. Gagne has no goals and a pair of assists in the series so far.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Brian Boucher: Stopping 30 of the Devils’ 31 shots, Boucher once again looked like the more reliable of the two competing goaltenders, despite not being able to make the same spectacular saves as Brodeur.
Jeff Carter: Coming back in a big way, Carter picked up the game tying goal, and then the final insurance goal for his first two since leaving a game injured back on March 21st.
Special Teams: Yet another game where the Devils, one of the league’s least penalized teams, gets dragged into a battle of penalties against the Flyers, who have one of the league’s top power plays and a pretty solid penalty kill squad to boot. The Flyers were 2-8 on the PP, and kept the Devils to 1-8.