Flyers force Game 7

By JAY BOEHMER
Staff Writer — jboehmer@highhopesblog.com

_______

The Boston Bruins came into Philadelphia ready to play. After suffering an epic collapse on home ice in Game 5, they needed to recover only long enough to win one more game in order to eliminate the lingering Flyers.

They certainly did recover. But the Flyers didn’t seem to care. They brought the hard work and guts that Flyer legend Bob Kelly prescribed prior to their first win in Game 4.

Philadelphia’s grinding offense got to work early, buzzing around the Bruin’s net with a series of chances. A combined effort from Dan Carcillo, Simon Gagne and Mike Richards swatted at the puck until Richards found a way to put it in over a diving Tuukka Rask.

After some early pressure, the Flyers laid off the Bruins for the later portion of the first and the majority of the second. They were content to play defensive hockey, keeping the B’s to the perimeter and not allowing any quality scoring chances. It was risky, but it seemed to be working.

Playing the opportunists, the Flyers waited for a 4-on-3 power play opportunity to extend their lead as Danny Briere took advantage of the space allotted him and stepped into the slot before ripping a shot over the shoulder of Rask to make it 2-0.

That late period flurry of offense proved to be all that the Flyers would need. They went back into a clampdown shell during most of the final twenty minutes, a style that was reinforced by a pair of penalties against them.

Once again jumping on quick strike opportunities, Danny Briere and Ville Leino went down the ice on a 2-on-1 with Leino receiving the puck on a breakaway. He was dragged down from behind, prompting a penalty shot. With the chance to bury the Bruins with another goal, Leino made a terrific move to the backhand before being robbed with a little “left handed larceny” on the lightning fast glove save.

Boston continued to press, finding a chance to climb back into this game when Milan Lucic slid a rebound through Leighton’s legs during a scramble in front. With a minute left and only a one goal deficit, Boston stayed on the attack. The Flyers survived and were able to leave the stadium with a win.

The series is now tied. Of the 162 teams in NHL history to fall down three games to none, only six were able to fight back to a tie. From there, only two of them found a way to win it. The sentiment in the Flyers locker room is that they’ll be the third.

They need only one more win. Unfortunately, they must fight for it against a reinvigorated Bruins team playing in front of their home fans at TD Garden. If this years Flyers have shown anything throughout the season, it’s that they simply refuse to lose when their backs are against the wall.

KEYS TO THE GAME:

Michael Leighton: “Lights Out” Leighton played over a game and a half worth of hockey without allowing a goal from the time he stepped in for Boucher until Lucic broke the shutout with a last minute goal. This kind of reliability at stopping the outside shots, combined with the occasional spectacular save during a Flyers breakdown, gives the team in front of him the confidence to play the game the way they need to win.

Mike Richards: One of the most passionate players on the ice, the Flyers captain leads by example. His tenacity around the puck creates chances for him and his teammates. His opening goal gave the Flyers the lead that carried them until late in the third.

Danny Briere: Briere is one Flyer who steps up more than most during the playoff season. His clutch performances have carried this team, with three of his six goals ending up as game winners.

Blair Betts’ Health: Betts left the game injured during the second period, clutching his hand in pain as he immediately made the trip down the tunnel and into the locker room. He failed to return for the third period. If he cannot make it to play Game 7, look for David Laliberte will to crack the Flyers roster.

Fun Fact: The last team to come back from a 3-0 series deficit to tie was the 1975 New York Islanders. What’s interesting is that they did it twice that year. In the second round, they came back from a three game hole to topple the Pittsburgh Penguins and become the second team to accomplish that feat.

The next round, they took our own Philadelphia Flyers to Game 7 after dropping the first three games of the series. The Flyers closed out the series with a win at home before moving on to beat the Buffalo Sabres and win their second straight Stanley Cup.

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