What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? The same thing that happens when the team with the most goals – the Flyers – meets the team with the least allowed – the Bruins.
In their last meeting, the Bruins blanked the Flyers as Tim Thomas led his team to a shutout. This time around, the Flyers found a crack in Thomas’ impenetrable wall and broke through with a lone goal in regulation. With a strong defense of their own – backed by Brian Boucher’s solid goaltending – that goal was all the Flyers needed to take the game into overtime, where Mike Richards won it all.
Through almost two periods of play, neither team cracked. There was give and take – each team bent as the opposition’s offense pressed and generated scoring chances – but the defenses held when they had to and the goalies bailed them out when they couldn’t.
In the final minutes of the second, a 3-on-2 rush with Carter and Giroux gave James van Riemsdyk the space to trail behind, wait for the drop pass, and let rip a one timer that beat a sliding Tim Thomas for the first goal of the night.
JVR’s goal was the only score for either side after the first forty minutes of hockey. Unfortunately for the Flyers, it only stayed that way for the next ten. Zdeno Chara pinched at the point, knocking Dan Carcillo off the puck and moving it to the middle where the Bruins’ forwards pounced and turned it into a Nathan Horton shot past Boucher.
Much the same as the rest of the game, the two teams continued to exchange jabs in the final minutes of the third, but neither team could nail the knockout punch, and the game proceeded into overtime.
Earlier this week, Mike Richards took what should have been the game-winning shot, but the puck crossed the goal line a fraction of a second too late. With only seconds remaining, Richards found himself on an odd man rush with defenseman Kimmo Timonen. The threat of a pass to Kimmo kept the defenseman from playing Richards, who took the opportunity to play Tim Thomas for a goal – the overtime game winner.
This contest marked the first time a Boston crowd has been able to fully unleash their wrath on the Flyers since their heartbreaking game 7 loss last Spring, and the game took on a whole new feel because of it. Hard hitting, fast paced, with quick chances and tough battles, it had all the makings of playoff hockey.
“It was a great hockey game – our penalty killers did a great job, [Brian Boucher] made a couple of big saves when he needed to keep us in the hockey game,” said captain Mike Richards. “It was back and forth – hard hitting. Just a a great hockey game to be a part of.”
KEY TO THE GAME
Discipline: The Flyers officially only had to kill two penalties this game. One, a Dan Carcillo interference call and the other a Jody Shelley boarding major. The major – coupled with a game misconduct – was obviously a tough kill. The Bruins could have pulled back into the game and even taken a lead of their own – but the Flyers left them unable to even create worthwhile chances.
Philadelphia’s ability to keep the penalties to a relative minimum, and then to dominate play with their penalty kill, are key in what is sure to be a tight game like this.
Discipline showed through in other areas too. Forwards were not caught cheating, leaving the play behind them and looking up ice. Instead, they took care of business in the defensive end first before transitioning to offense. They shut the Bruins down first, and then looked to capitalize on the chances the defense brought them – in typical Flyers fashion.