|Simon the Bruins-killer||05.14.10 at 11:29 pm ET|
From the moment he took the ice in Game 4, Simon Gagne was the unquestionable difference in the series. The Flyers got their best sniper back in the lineup and it paid immediate dividends when he scored the biggest goal of the series, the overtime game-winner in Game 4 that gave the Flyers a flicker of hope.
By the time he scored the go-ahead power play goal on Friday night in Game 7, the Bruins’ Stanley Cup dreams were completely up in smoke.
Gagne came back from an injured toe and collect four goals and an assist in four games, the final four of the series as the Flyers made history.
Gagne, the hero of Game 7 and of the series for the Flyers, said after Philadelphia’s 4-3 win in Game 7 that nerves may have played a role in the too many men on the ice penalty that led to the series-deciding goal.
'We expected them to come very hard and they did,” Gagne said of Boston’s 3-0 lead in the opening 15 minutes of the game. “Our mistake was maybe taking bad penalties early on, two goals on the power play. It's not the start you want. After that third goal, we had a timeout and said, 'Let's just play one goal at a time and focus on scoring the first goal.'
'After that we were sure they would start questioning themselves a little bit and then we went for the second one and then were able to tie the game. I'm sure at that point they started to get nervous on their side and you know what, sometimes you're nervous and you make mistakes and then they had too many men on the ice and that might be our chance to win the game and we did,' Gagne said.
The Flyers open the Eastern Conference finals Sunday in Philadelphia against the Canadiens.
|2nd Period Summary: Bruins vs. Flyers Game 7||05.14.10 at 8:56 pm ET|
The Flyers came out and skated like a desperate team, not one that was down and out.
Scott Hartnell scored just 2:49 into the period and the blood pressure of fans began to rise in dread. It was made worse when Danny Briere went behind Rask and his backhanded wraparound beat the Bruins goalie at 8;49 to tie the game and stun the crowd.
It was also the first of two video reviews involving Rask. While the Briere goal stood, another review six minutes later would show Dennis Wideman saving the puck by gloving it and keeping it just inches from going over the goal line.
The Flyers had the clear momentum and had a paid of power play chances to take the lead but the Bruins came up with a couple of key kills to keep the game knotted.
The Flyers not only won the scoring battle in the second, 2-0, they outshot them, 11-6.
The Flyers also finish the series with a 10-3 cumulative scoring advantage in the second period.
|1st Period Summary: Bruins vs. Flyers Game 7||05.14.10 at 7:54 pm ET|
Those wondering whether Milan Lucic’s goal in the final 60 seconds of Game 6 would carry over to Game 7 didn’t have to wait too long for their answer.
Lucic had two goals in the opening 20 minutes of Game 7 as the Bruins took a 3-1 lead in what appears to be turning into a no-holds barred affair.
The Bruins put on a heavy forecheck, forced the Flyers into two high sticking penalties and took advantage of the great energy in TD Garden to gain early momentum and – more importantly – the lead.
Michael Ryder put the Bruins up on top when he took control of the puck in the lower right circle and turned and fired a shot that beat Michael Leighton five-hole for a 1-0 lead at 5:27
Johnny Boychuk skated deep with the puck and just before crossing the end line to the right of Leighton, fed a beautiful pass to Milan Lucic, who stuffed it past Leighton inside the left post.
The goal at 9:02 was fourth of the playoffs for Lucic and the second power play tally in as many chances for the Bruins.
But Lucic was hardly done. Just over five minutes later, he took off with Miroslav Satan from the Bruins blue line as the Flyers lost possession of the puck and skated right for the shell-shocked Leighton. His shot beat the Flyers goalie low for his fifth of the postseason and it was 3-0.
And it could’ve been worse for the Flyers, who called their timeout after the third goal. One shot hit the right post and another hit the crossbar as the Bruins spent most of the period deep in the Flyers zone.
James Van Riemsdyk gave the Flyers a pulse at 17:12, the first career playoff goal for the UNH product.
The Bruins outshot the Flyers, 14-8, in the opening 20 minutes.
|Flyers looking for final push||05.14.10 at 1:41 pm ET|
So the Philadelphia Flyers enter tonight’s Game 7 trying to become the first team since the 1975 New York Islanders to win a Stanley Cup series after trailing, 3-0. They did so in the Stanley Cup quarterfinals against Pittsburgh.
What many may not recall is they were incredibly on the verge of doing it in back-to-back series when they played the defending Stanley Cup champion Flyers in the next round.
The Flyers led, 3-0, only to have the Islanders – featuring a young goalie named Billy Smith and a defenseman by the name of Dennis Potvin – battle back to tie the series and send it to Game 7 in Philly. Kate Smith and Bernie Parent saved the Flyers in that contest and the Flyers went on to win the Stanley Cup over Buffalo in six games.
The second part is the kind of history the Bruins are hoping to repeat tonight.
Still, it seems no one knows what to expect in terms of an outcome, only that it will be a battle.
“I would certainly think that way,” Laviolette said. “You got two teams that are pushed to the edge now. Boston's going to show up and play hard, and we have to do the same thing. It's going to be a great hockey game.'
What Laviolette mentioned several times following his team’s Game 6 win was the need to pick up the intensity for Game 7 on the road.
'The face-offs weren't great, as the game wore on the chances seemed to be in their favor,” Laviolette said. “They were quicker to the pucks, a little stronger in their battles. You know we are going to have to be better in Boston. We are going to have to play a game with a little more intensity than [Wednesday].'
|Julien chooses not to discipline his team||05.13.10 at 4:27 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — At least publicly, Bruins coach Claude Julien failed to lash out at his team for their 2-1 loss to the Flyers that has forced a seventh and deciding game in the series.
Nor did Julien take issue with Daniel Paille for an elbow penalty that the coach thought – at the very least – was questionable, leading to a Flyers 5-on-3 advantage in the second, and eventually a 4-on-3 power play goal for the Flyers.
'It's important, but again not to criticize. It puts us down five on three when they called the elbow,” Julien said. “If you look at the replay he doesn't even touch him. There's a space between his arm and the guys face but he puts his head back and the [referee] calls it. Do you blame your players for that? I don't think so, I think we have to stay on the puck.
“There's no doubt about that, but I don't know that we were overly undisciplined. We were the other night [Game 5] and it ended up costing us. Tonight, we had some power plays and we weren't able to capitalize. We had some opportunities as well, a couple tough penalties, but other than that I thought we were pretty disciplined.'
Paille’s penalty was made even worse because Marc Savard was already serving a penalty. Then to finish the second period, Blake Wheeler takes an even worse penalty for holding with just under 27 seconds left in the period.
Can Julien sense tenseness in his players?
'It's a situation where the winner of the game moves on,” the coach said. “Tonight, in the first three minutes of the game they really took it to us, but after that I thought we settled in and played hard. We didn't probably get enough scoring chances although we had the puck in our end for quite a bit. In the third, we got more scoring chances and hit a few posts; the pucks just weren't going in for us tonight. I'm not going to criticize my players' effort.
“I thought we were ready, but somehow we have to find a way to score goals. They had about 30 blocked shots tonight so we shot about 61 shots at the net and 30 of them got blocked so they did a great job at fronting our shots. You have to give them credit for doing that.'
Milan Lucic did finally score in the final 60 seconds of the game, snapping a 134-minute drought for the team. Julien can only hope that momentum carries into Game 7 on home ice.
“It just gave us an opportunity to be in the game and you hope you can go get him a goal soon after,” Julien said of the Lucic goal. “Unfortunately, it was a little too late and we weren't able to get that last one, but these are things that we're going to have to find ways to score hopefully earlier and get more scoring chances earlier in the game instead of the third period tonight. If we can do what we did in the third, I think our chances are good.
'You really wish that line would get rewarded with some goals with the work they put in there. They work so hard, they make good things happen but unfortunately they haven't been rewarded with the goals and that's the unfortunate part. I guess everyone on the bench was routing for [Trent Whitfield] to score that goal because he's been a good soldier for us, he's been working hard and waiting for his turn to get in there and did a great job to spring himself loose. That would have been a big goal for us.'
|Bruins to ‘embrace challenge’ of Game 7||05.13.10 at 12:53 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Sometimes you just have to tell yourself things will be okay in the face of adversity.
The Bruins will spend the next 24 hours preparing themselves and reassuring themselves of the positives – namely win one game on home ice and earn the right to have home ice advantage against the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference finals.
Only minutes after losing their third straight in the series to the Flyers, 2-1, many Bruins attempted to put on a brave face as they now face a do-or-die Game 7 at TD Garden on Friday night.
'Like my buddy once said, 'Pressure is five kids, no job.' This is just fun,” Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. “Game 7. Enjoy it. Just drink it in as they say.'
Milan Lucic, who scored Boston’s only goal and the first by the Bruins in nearly 135 minutes of play in the series, also attempted to put things in perspective.
“We’re just looking forward to the challenge ahead of us,” Lucic said. “We know it’s going to be an exciting game. I’m not nervous. I think you have to embrace the struggle, embrace the challenge and have fun with it.”
Of course, if the Bruins don’t win, they join the 1942 Detroit Red Wings, the 1975 Pittsburgh Penguins and the 2004 New York Yankees as the only teams in major professional North American sports to blow a 3-0 lead and lose a best-of-seven series.
|2nd Period Summary: Bruins vs. Flyers Game 6||05.12.10 at 9:57 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Just when it seemed they weathered the first period storm and were gaining momentum and showing discipline, the Bruins had it all come undone in all areas. And it may lead us to where no one thought possible five days earlier – a Game 7 in Boston on Friday – as the Bruins trail 2-0 after two periods.
Daniel Briere scored on a 4-on-3 power play with 3:40 left in the second period as Marc Savard and Daniel Paille took penalties within 30 seconds of each other. The Bruins appeared to catch a break when Chris Pronger was called for a questionable interference penalty in front of Rask.
But on the 4-on-3, Briere came down the right wing and fired a shot toward the right shoulder of Rask. The puck glanced off his chest and past him for a two-goal Flyers lead heading into the third period.
In the first 10 minutes of the period, Rask single-handedly kept the Bruins in the game as he made big saves on Mike Richards and Simon Gagne midway through the period.
Making matters worse, Blake Wheeler took a penalty in the final 20 seconds of the period and the Flyers will start the third period with a power play for 94 seconds.
What makes the last five minutes of the third so disappointing is that the Bruins were showing offensive life, thanks to good skating and deep puck movement by the likes of Satan, Savard and Lucic. It finally result in a power play chance when Braydon Coburn was whistled for hooking at 13:26. But Claude Giroux and Mike Richards were aggressive on the kill and the Bruins got only three looks at Michael Leighton before it expired.