By JAY BOEHMER
Staff Writer — email@example.com
Returning to Boston for Game 5, the Flyers had yet another game of hockey with nothing to lose. Nobody expects a comeback; their demise seems like just a matter of time. But in two straight games, they’ve managed to shift a little bit of the pressure back to their opponents, growing in confidence all the way.
The Bruins still had their share of confidence, having won all five playoff home games. The fans at TD Garden came in with plenty to cheer about, as their team neared the point of knocking the Flyers out and moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Philadelphia, their team, and their fans, on the other hand, had other ideas.
They started the first period well, accumulating a couple of chances before Scott Hartnell, seemingly back from the dead, batted in a rebound after Ville Leino deflected Chris Pronger’s shot into the pads of goaltender Tuukka Rask. Despite all the replay angles to the contrary, the goal was later credited to Ville Leino.
The Bruins had a few chances of their own in the first, including a Miroslav Satan breakaway opportunity after a puck bounced off the glass behind Boucher and landed in the slot. He made a move identical to the goal he buried in Game 3, but didn’t have the finish this time around.
The Flyers still playing with a one goal lead, a puck dribbled through Brian Boucher’s legs on its way to the goal, inciting Ryan Parent to dive over him to knock it away. As he, and then Miroslav Satan and Simon Gagne, fell on top of Boucher, they caused severe damage to both knees. He was carried off the ice before long. Enter Michael Leighton.
Fresh off his own injury due to a high ankle sprain before the home stretch of the season, Leighton entered his first career playoff game nearly halfway through, his team on the verge of elimination, protecting a slim one goal lead on enemy ice.
The Flyers recognized the situation and were able to keep shots way from Leighton for a few minutes, allowing him to settle into the pace of the game, before the Bruins were able to truly test him. He proved impressive throughout the final 35 minutes, holding down the tail end of the first shared shutout in playoff history since 1955.
The offense took control of the second to take pressure off of Leighton. A terrific shift by the line of Briere, Hartnell, and Leino led to Leino’s puck control causing the Bruins’ D to scramble, allowing Kimmo Timonen to step into the slot for a shot to make Rask sprawl. Briere flipped a rebound over his pads where Scott Hartnell promptly batted it into the back of the net.
As Boston’s frustrations mounted, so did the penalties. The Flyers capitalized with their first power play goal since Game 1 of the series as Mike Richards fed Simon Gagne from below the goal line for a quick shot past Rask.
As the third period got rolling, the Bruins began putting up chances of their own against Michael Leighton, who had answers for all of them.
Things continued to go the Flyers way, however, when a bouncing puck found nothing but the broken stick of Dennis Wideman at the point. Simon Gagne pounced on the opportunity, poking it past him for a breakaway chance and a shot to beat Rask.
With Simon Gagne scoring his third goal in two games since returning from injury, one being an overtime winner, the Flyers offense has been completely reinvigorated. Ville Leino and Scott Hartnell showed up as well, combining for a pair of goals. With this secondary level of scoring that they lacked in the first three games of the series, the Flyers offense is a serious threat, as evidenced by nine goals in two games against a goalie who averaged less than two a night him all season.
The game ended with a series of roughhousing plays, namely one that saw Mike Richards lay a questionable hit on Marc Savard that prompted the Bruins forward to stand up and cross check the Flyers captain in the face and draw blood.
In the words of Peter Laviolette, their first win “got them into the series”. This win seems to have almost given them control. Still down a game and on the verge of elimination, but the Flyers dominated the only one-sided game of this series so far and hold the two game winning streak. The pressure may finally be back on the Bruins.
Like Rocky, getting pounded up against the ropes, but never falling, these Philly warriors are waiting for their shot to turn the tide and steal this series.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Boucher / Leighton: Both making their share of quality saves, Leighton still had the tougher of the jobs. He stopped plenty of quality shots despite being thrown into the fire in the middle of his first playoff game. The offense bailed him out, and should continue to going forward.
Scott Hartnell: With only his third goal since January, and first since March, Hartnell ended a drought that seemed like it would go on forever. He gained confidence, and finally seemed to be in control of the corners, out-bodying those around him for the first time.
Simon Gagne: Not missing a beat stepping back onto the ice after his injury, Gagne scored the Flyers biggest goal of the playoffs to keep the series alive in Friday’s OT win. He scores another pair last night to carry the Flyers to a second straight win.
Giroux’s Health: Flyers post season star, Claude Giroux, left the game injured after the second period following a boarding hit by Steve Begin. His injury appears to be of the concussion type. We’ll be tracking his ability to play closely in the next few days.