|Bruins self destruct in Game 5 loss to Flyers||05.10.10 at 9:33 pm ET|
Summary ‘ The Flyers will be going home with their season still alive after taking care of the Bruins 4-0 on Monday in Game 5. Tuukka Rask gave up four goals on 31 shots en route to his second straight loss of the series after winning the first three contests. The series shifts back to Philadelphia on Wednesday as the Bruins have two more chances to try and put the Flyers away to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1992.
Brian Boucher started in net for the Flyers, but only played in for 24:31 and left the game in the second period after getting his leg pinned back in a scrum in front of the net and having to be helped off the ice. Boucher stopped all nine Bruins shots he faced and left the game with a 1-0 lead. Michael Leighton replaced Boucher and made his first career NHL playoff appearance as well as his first appearance in a game since March 16. Leighton stopped the rest of the Bruins 14 shots to share the first combined shutout of the Bruins in a playoff game since Montreal did it in 1955.
The Flyers got on the board first as Ville Leino’s hard work in the series was rewarded when he slammed home a rebound that Rask left in the slot off a shot from the point by Chris Pronger at 6:41 in the first. It was the second goal of the postseason for Leino. The goal was originally charged to Scott Hartnell but changed to Leino after review in between the first and second periods.
The same Philadelphia line struck again in the second when a blocked shot in the slot in front of Rask led to a loose puck getting throw towards the crease. That’s where Danny Briere caught it at the corner and tried to flip it passed Rask and Hartnell was on the other side to ram home the oscillating puck to make it 2-0 at 11:16. It was Hartnell’s first goal of the playoffs after scoring 14 during the regular season.
After Steve Begin went for a boarding call on Claude Giroux at 17:00, Simon Gagne scored his second of the playoffs on the power play in the second. Gagne got the puck on a rebound from Mike Richards and Leino putting the puck on Rask and got the easy put back to make it 3-0 at 17:53.
Gagne struck again to really put the game out of reach at 6:48 in the third period when Dennis Wideman could not control a back pass at the blue line as the puck slid through him into neutral ice while he dropped his stick. Gagne chased the puck down, easily eluding Wideman’s attempt to box him out and took the breakaway straight on Rask for an easy score to make it 4-0.
Ville Leino — Has been the hardest-working member of the Flyers the past two games and it showed on the scoreboard on Monday with a goal and an assist.
Simon Gagne — The forward played in his second game of the series after toe surgery at the end of the Flyers quarterfinals series against the Devils and has three goals, including two in Game 5, since his return.
Brian Boucher/Michael Leighton — The Bruins did the goaltenders a bunch of favors on the night but they still combined to shutdown the Bruins offense for most of the night to take the game back to Philadelphia for Game 6 on Wednesday. It was the first combined shutout for the Flyers in their playoff history.
Turning Point — Boucher had only seen nine shots before Leighton replaced him and it looked like a golden opportunity for the Bruins to climb back into it. But Hartnell scored about six minutes later and Gagne added the demoralizer on the power play late in the second period as the Flyers took control of the game.
Key Play — Gagne’s goal was the first power play goal Philadelphia scored since Game 1 and came after the Bruins had killed the first five power plays the Flyers had on the night. The three-goal lead would be too much for Boston to overcome on en route to its second straight loss in the series.
|Leighton: ‘I am ready to play’||at 5:56 pm ET|
It is easy to forget that Brian Boucher is actually the third choice for the Flyers between the crease. The first was Ray Emery, lost for the season with a hip injury and the second was Michael Leighton who went down with a high ankle-sprain in early March.
The recovery time for a high-ankle sprain is supposed to be about eight weeks and then perhaps another couple for a skater to get back into optimal game condition. The Bruins Milan Lucic had a high-ankle sprain and has said repeatedly that it was the worst injury that anybody could go through and that he wishes it on nobody. Leighton admitted on Monday before Game 5 against the Bruins that it was definitely the worst injury of his career.
“You can strengthen all the muscles around it but that muscle just takes time to heal,” Leighton said. “You are still going to feel a little bit of pain for a while and it takes a long time to go away. It is a tough injury and I have never had it before and people tell me its the worst and so far it has been the worst of my career.”
Leighton said that he has been pushing for the playoffs because he has never actually played in an NHL playoff game through parts of nine seasons as a backup with 103 games under his belt since 2001. He has 27 games for Philadelphia with a 16-5-2 record, .918 save percentage and 2.48 goals against average. Outstanding numbers if he were able to replicate them through an entire season but up to this point in his career (he turns 29 in nine days) he has not been given the opportunity for full time status.
Now that Boucher has led the Flyers passed the New Jersey Devils in the quarterfinals, it probably does not matter how healthy Leighton is for the rest of series even if Boucher falls off a cliff coach Peter Laviolette will probably not put him in the net.
“He has just recently caught some good practices and we haven’t practiced a lot as a team due to the schedule so he has gotten some opportunities in practice where he has looked good, but I think there is always something to that game situation that you are talking about,” Laviolette said. “As far as the lineup goes tonight, Brian Boucher has played excellent for us. He looked really sharp this morning and I would expect a great game from not only our goaltenders, but everybody that plays the ice in front of them. You don’t have crystal balls to see how a game will pan out but Bouch [Brian Boucher] has been outstanding for us and he has put us in the position where we are today.”
For Leighton’s part, he seems frustrated and ready to usurp Boucher at first possible opportunity.
“I feel good. It has been about seven weeks and have been doing a lot of work and probably ready to play. Tuesday will be eight weeks so I want to get back into the lineup,” Leighton said. “Getting into the butterfly too start was the worst. I was doing a lot of stuff off ice the but the butterfly was the hardest thing to do for the first five or six weeks. I was able to push off it while I was in the butterfly, so, everything feels good now.”
|Flyers stay alive with Game 4 OT victory||05.07.10 at 10:12 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Flyers kept their season alive and got a digit in the win column in the Eastern Conference semifinals as they beat Boston 5-4 in overtime of Game 4 at the Wachovia Center on Friday evening. Simon Gagne scored the game-winner in the extra frame to keep Philadelphia’s Stanley Cup hopes alive. Brian Boucher got his first win of the series and stopped Tuukka Rask’s four-game playoff winning streak in the process to force a Game 5 in Boston on Monday.
The Flyers were up by a goal by Ville Leino late in the third period and looked like they would squeak out the win after Boston came back from a two-goal deficit to tie it a three but Mark Recchi scored an empty-net goal with 31.5 seconds left in the game to send it to overtime.
Boston took the early lead for the third time in the four games as Mark Recchi recorded his fifth strike of the playoffs at 15:37 in the first period. The play was set up by strong play from Dennis Wideman and Daniel Paille through the netural zone that set up center Patrice Bergeron on a partial break on Boucher. Bergeron got off a weak shot but Boucher had committed on the ice and was forced to deflect the puck back into the slot with his side while laying on his side. Recchi was following Bergeron on the play and flipped it high for the 1-0 advantage.
The Flyers came back on during a 4-on-4 after Scott Hartnell and Vladimir Sobotka went to the box with matching roughing penalties at 18:06 in the first. Defenseman Matt Carle rushed down the left wing and slipped the puck through the high slot to the stick of Claude Giroux who was skating on a parallel line with Danny Briere. Giroux slowed up and tapped the puck to Briere who sent a snap shot on Rask that found its way to the back of the net to tie it at 19:06.
The Flyers took the lead with two goals in the second period, the first time in the series that they have had a two-goal advantage over the Bruins. Chris Pronger scored the first when he took a slap shot from the high slot that deflected off of defenseman Mark Stuart’s skate and zipped passed Rask at 4:28 to make it 2-1. Giroux made it 3-1 when he crashed the net as Scott Hartnell was battling on the elbow of the crease to dislodge the puck from a tie-up against the post. Hartnell was able to kick it through the crease and Giroux slammed it home at 8:35.
Boston got back to within a goal at 10:56. Michael Ryder took a slap shot from the high slot that went wide of Boucher’s net and rebounded off the end wall back to the corner of the crease. Boucher went to cover but Vladimir Sobotka crashed the goalie and hit the glove to dislodge the puck and squirt it through Boucher’s legs to get Boston back with a goal.
The Bruins would tie it back up at three early in the third on the power play. Dennis Wideman took a wrist shot from the left point that he elevated to Milan Lucic’s hip as the forward was camped in the slot in front of Boucher. Lucic got an eek of a tip on the puck to deflect it through the crease at 3:49.
Chris Pronger — Had a goal and a big assist on the game-winner to keep his team playing hockey in the month of May.
Claude Giroux — The sophomore forward helped the Flyers create offense with a goal and an assist to give him nine points through the playoffs.
Mark Recchi — The game-tying goal was simply amazing as the veteran and future Hall of Famer added another chapter to his legacy.
Turning Point – Lucic’s tip was set up by a Flyers penalty to Ville Leino for hooking at 2:59 in the third period. The Flyers had held the Bruins scoreless through their first two power play attempts of the game but Boston was able to settle the puck in its third attempt and cycle it to the point where Wideman could wind up and fire. Lucic was in decent position in the slot and shot the shaft of his stick on it, enough to get it passed Boucher. The goal made the game competitive again until late in the Recchi sent it to overtime.
Key Play – Recchi’s game-tying goal will be one of those moments that goes down in NHL playoff lore. He could have one-timed the shot off the stick of Patrice Bergeron but stopped, held it for a moment, let Boucher get out of position and flipped it top shelf to send the game to an extra frame.
|Second period summary: Bruins vs. Flyers – Game 4||at 8:39 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — It looks like the Flyers want to continue to play hockey in the spring of 2010. They scored two goals to take a 3-2 lead into the third, the first time in the series where they have had a lead entering the deciding period.
The Bruins got a power play opportunity early when Danny Briere pinched Dennis Wideman on the half wall and got his stick up just a bit too high and whacked Wideman in the face for Boston’s first man-advantage of the game. Boston was able to get a couple shots off but did not break through Brian Boucher and the chance slipped by.
Chris Pronger then gave the Flyers a rare thing for them in the series — a lead. He had a slap shot from the high slot that deflected off of defenseman Mark Stuart’s skate on its way through Tuukka Rask to make it 2-1 at 4:28.
It looked like Boston would be able to grab the momentum right back when Daniel Carcillo went to the box for cross-checking at 5:26 but the Philadelphia penalty kill was again on top of its game as Boston got off another couple shots before it was killed.
Philadelphia then had a series first for it when it took a two-goal lead at 8:35. Forward Scott Hartnell was in a scrum at the very corner of the net and kicked the puck through the crease where a crashing Claude Giroux made it 3-1 as he slammed it home passed Rask.
Boston got a goal back at 10:56. Michael Ryder had a shot from the slot go wide of Boucher but bounced off the end wall back to the side of the crease. Boucher went to cover the puck but Vladimir Sobotka crashed the net and hit Boucher’s glove, dislodging the puck and sending it through the pads into the net to make it 3-2.
|First period summary: Bruins vs. Flyers – Game 4||at 7:50 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Wachovia Center feels much more alive on Friday than it did on Wednesday for Game 3. The theme music from the Rocky music led the Flyers on to the ice (noticeably absent from Game 3) and a couple early Philadelphia chances got the crowd in the game.
Milan Lucic took the first penalty of the game as the Flyers went on the power play for high sticking at 8:24. But, as it has been all series long, Philadelphia got the Rask treatment as he blocked both shots that were sent on him during the man-advantage and Boston continued its strong penalty kill that has not allowed a power play goal since Game 1 with 10 kills in the last two games into the the start of Game 4.
Boston got on the board first when Mark Recchi added his fifth goal of the playoffs after Patrice Bergeron got on a partial break set up by Dennis Wideman and Daniel Paille through the neutral zone. Bergeron had a weak shot on Brian Boucher but the goaltender laid out and deflected the puck back into the slot with his stick where Recchi, following the play, flipped it to the top of the net at 15:37 for the third opening goal by the Bruins in the four games.
A dustup between Vladimir Sobotka, Scott Hartnell and Arron Asham in front of the Flyers bench at 18:04 sent Sobotka and Hartnell to the box for matching roughing penalties at 18:04. Philadelphia used the extra ice space to its advantage as Matt Carle came down the left wing on the rush rush and crossed the puck through the high slot to Claude Giroux who tapped it aside to Danny Briere who sent a wrist shot from the top of the dot on Rask that had eyes and the game was tied at one at 19:06.
The Bruins lead in the shot department heading into the second with a 10 to nine advantage.
|Morning notes: Gagne a game-time decision||at 1:55 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Broad Street faithful are hoping to see one of their old friends on the ice at the Wachovia Center on Friday and hope that he will be able to continue their season, if only just a little bit longer.
Simon Gagne will be a game-time decision for Game 4 after having surgery on a broken toe on April 23 after the fourth game of the quarterfinals against the Devils. Gagne skated at the Flyers practice facility in Vorhees, NJ on Thursday but did not take part in Philadelphia’s morning Friday. He was the only Flyers player to [officially] address the media before Game 4 and said that he will take part in warmups and consult with the athletic trainer and doctors before making a decision on whether or not he will play.
“There is no need right now to go out there and skate. I am going to wait in my warmup and put all the chance on my side and decide from there,” Gagne said.
Gagne had an MRI on the toe on Thursday after practice to make sure it had not moved or been displaced during the skate. All results were OK and now it just seems like how much pain he can withstand and how much the injury will allow him to contribute.
“I am going to have to talk to the trainer after warmup and tell him how I feel and get the call from the doctor,” Gagne said. “I talked to him yesterday and we went and got that MRI and we talked a little bit about what I have to look for to be able to play. Do, like I said, I need to get ready for warmup and we will chat with Jimmy [McCrossin — athletic trainer] after warmup and then we will decide if we are good to go.”
Coach Peter Laviolette said in his morning news conference that the emotional benefit from getting a player back is fleeting when it comes to the work it takes to win a hockey game. He would talk nothing of assumptions concerning whether or not Gagne would play or what his minutes would be other than to say that he probably would not spend much time on the penalty kill.
“When the players return I think there has to be more than the bang that you might get in the first minute,” Laviolette said. “There is so much work that has to be done throughout the course of the game and even when a player, when he does return, I think it is important that they are contributing factors. Maybe you get a quick boost but there is a lot of work to be done. Boston won’t put a lot of stock into a player when he returns to the lineup.”
The Flyers are going to need all the help they can get if they want to climb back into this series. Gagne admitted that a Game 4 timetable was not on his mind, he figured, at best, Game 5, perhaps later in the series. A player has to do what a player has to do. It is playoff hockey.
“To be honest with you, I was looking toward Game 5 or maybe the end of the series, but I started to actually feel pretty good before Game 3,” Gagne said. “It is the playoffs and right now we are against the wall and we have to win and we are not allowed to lose any games. It is right there and if I feel good enough to play, I will be there.”
Laviolette expects the Flyers to play to win Friday night, regardless of the status of Simon Gagne. He went so far as to say that the pressure had shifted to the Bruins, which is not all that unreasonable. The fourth game is always the hardest to claim. Boston found that out in Game 5 of the quarterfinals against the Sabres.
“I would expect us to play a really good hockey game,” Laviolette said. “We had a good practice yesterday, had a good meeting. Our backs are up against the wall but the pressure really shifts to Boston at this point, not so much on us. I would think our guys are going to come out with one heck of an effort tonight.”
Morning notes — The Bruins had a full team practice while only a couple Flyers took part in the morning skate, reversed from the situation on Thursday we Philadelphia had a full team practice and the Boston had a workout day (in Bruins parlance, that means they played soccer in the hallway of the Wachovia center). Shawn Thornton did not skate for the Bruins and coach Claude Julien said that “he exercised his option” on whether to skate or not. An interesting choice for a player who does not have a contract after the season ends. Trent Whitfield is the probably replacement for David Krejci in the Bruins lineup as Julien likes the idea of having five true centermen in the lineup but the decision between him and Brad Marchand will be made after warmups.
|Bruins ready to bury Flyers with Game 3 victory||05.05.10 at 9:31 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA ‘ The Bruins took a big step toward the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night, taking a Game 3 win over the Flyers at the Wachovia Center. Boston put Philadelphia down 3-0 in the best-of-seven series with a 4-1 victory and will look to sweep away the Flyers in Game 4 on Friday. Tuukka Rask continued his solid playoff play and won his seventh game of the postseason, while Brian Boucher has fallen from his high perch coming out of the Flyers’ quarterfinals series and took the loss by allowing three goals on 19 Boston shots.
Philadelphia put a digit on the board first for the first time in the series when Arron Asham struck 2:32 into the game. The play was set up when Bruins rookie defenseman Adam McQuaid turned the puck over to center Blair Betts at the blue line to start a 2-on-1 the other way with Claude Giroux and Asham. Giroux waited long enough down the left wing to put the puck on Asham’s stick for a flip across the crease on Rask for the early advantage.
Boston came storming back. Blake Wheeler scored the first playoff goal of his career (in his 17th postseason game) when he tipped a Matt Hunwick shot from the left point through the crease to tie the game at 4:11 in the first. A minute later, the Bruins took the lead when Flyers center Mike Richards was over-aggressive in hitting David Krejci as the Bruins center made his way out of the zone and sent the puck sliding through the neutral zone to Milan Lucic making the entry on the blue line. Lucic flipped to Miroslav Satan rushing down the seam and the Slovakian forward made an up fake with his stick and went around a diving Boucher’s glove to make it 2-1 at 5:15. Krejci would not return to the game after the hit.
Mark Recchi made it 3-1 at 2:30 of the third period on the power play when he was able to slam home a bouncing puck off a shot from Zdeno Chara in the high slot was blocked to the ice by Wheeler. It was Recchi’s fourth of the playoffs and the 54th playoff goal of his career. Patrice Bergeron added an empty-netter at 18:02 to put the exclamation point on the victory.
Miroslav Satan — Scored the Bruins second goal and continues to lead his legions in playoff scoring with 10 points through nine games (5 goals, 5 assists).
Tuukka Rask — The Finnish rookie withstood the storm to emerge dry on the other side as the Flyers put up the most shots they had through the series.
Blake Wheeler — Scored his first career playoff goal and assisted on Recchi’s in the third for his second career playoff multi-point night (second of playoffs).
Turning Point – Asham took a tripping penalty at the 50-second mark of the third period that was a touch of a questionable call as Matt Hunwick had lost an edge on the end boards on the sub-optimal Wachovia Center ice. The Bruins would take advantage on the power play when Chara slipped into the high slot and sent a screamer to the crease that Wheeler blocked down to the ice with his chest, straight to the stick of Recchi waiting for it to fall and bang home for the two-goal lead at 2:30.
Key Play — The Flyers had a great chance to tie the game at two around 14:52 of the second period when Asham put a ricochet rebound of Rask’s pads back on the goaltender. Rask could not corral the rebound and Asham flipped it back to the far side, as Rask was out of the crease attacking the point of attack. But the forwards attempt hit the post and the Bruins were able to clear it out of the zone and protect their lead in a period where they were outshot 15-9.
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