Hopefully the Flyers can reenact the second portion of their 2010 playoffs after dropping Game 3 tonight by a 5-1 count. They are now one game from elimination.
Zdeno Chara had two goals and David Krejci added three points while Tim Thomas made 37 saves as Boston has now out scored Philly 15-6 in the series. Andrej Meszaros had the only Flyers' goal on the night, but it meant very little as the Bruins already enjoyed a 4-0 lead.
Last game it was James van Riemsdyk, this game it was Chara. Just over 30 seconds into the game, Chara walked into a gliding puck in the slot to blast it home past Brian Boucher for a very early 1-0 lead for the Bruins.
As if that first blistering score wasn't enough to wake up the Flyers, maybe a goal 33 seconds later would do it. Krejci was the recipient of a nice between-the-legs pass from Milan Lucic behind the net. With a quick shot inside the right post, Krejci quickly gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead. A minute and three seconds into Game 3, the East's two seed found themselves in a big hole in a must-win game.
A Peter Laviolette timeout allowed his team to calm down slightly and his club was able to skate out the rest of the period to a draw. In fact, the Flyers headed into the second period with a man advantage thanks to a Patrice Bergeron hooking penalty.
Unfortunately, Philly couldn't capitalize on the man advantage. Adding on to that, the Flyers fought hard throughout the second period only to see their deficit increased to three.
After breaking up an offensive chance by Philly, Gregory Campbell set up Daniel Paille for an open wrist shot from the slot that got past Boucher to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead with 6:21 left in the second period.
The Bruins weren't done, however, as Nathan Horton scored 1:35 after Paille's marker to give the Bruins an insurmountable four-goal bulge late in the second period. Moving left to right across the circles, Horton faked a shot, then forced Boucher to open up his five-hole while trying to regain his footing. It was the exact location Horton put home his fifth goal of the playoffs.
Finished watching Boucher being roasted by Boston's offense, Laviolette put in Sergei Bobrovsky. The native of nearby Woonsocket, Rhode Island ended up with 16 saves on 20 shots.
Meszaros responded quickly after the goalie change to cut the Flyers' deficit to three and temporarily shut up the sarcastic Bruins' crowd.
The Bruins had chances late in the period, but the score remained 4-1 going into the final twenty minutes of regulation. Another goalie change and another deficit late in the game were something the Flyers, yet again, were going to need to overcome to prevent another 0-3 hole to the Bruins in the playoffs.
The third period didn't see any kind of fight from the Flyers as they only watched the Bruins' lead increase. Late in the third period, with the game pretty much decided, the Flyers handed the Bruins a 5-0n-3 opportunity. The inept Bruins' power play finally scored a goal in the 2011 playoffs.
Chara blasted home his second goal of the evening, another high blast which made Bobrovsky cringe, to make the score 5-1 and ultimately give the Bruins a commanding series lead heading into Game 4 on Friday back in Boston.
In a game they needed to win, the Flyers came out weak.
Two goals in the first 1:03 was all Boston needed to win tonight. The Flyers were able to overcome this deficit in last year's series against Boston, but Claude Julien's team has apparently learned their lesson and the Flyers look like they're out of gas. However, it's not over until it's over. If the Orange and Black come out and fight next game to scrap out a win, who knows what it might lead to?
Goaltending was once again the difference in tonight's game. The Flyers didn't provide too many great chances, but the fact the Bruins won with the two-goal lead they were handed early in the game proves that the most important player on a team during the playoffs is the goaltender.
We can only hope Paul Holmgren addresses this situation in the offseason; we can only hope the offseason doesn't come around until mid-June.
Notes: The Bruins are now 1-for-32 on the power play in the 2011 playoffs, and the Flyers are 7-for-46. The Flyers fell to 3-3 all-time in Game 3's against Boston in the playoffs. With his assist in the first, Bergeron ranks second among all players in the postseason with 10 assists, while Giroux is tops with 11. Chara's first period goal was his first in these playoffs and the Bruins' fastest opening goal in these playoffs. In his first action since Game 4 of the ECQF, Jeff Carter had 5 shots in 16:41 of ice time.
A goal 31 seconds into the game and 54 shots on net weren't enough for the Flyers to win tonight as the Bruins grabbed a 2-0 series lead heading into Boston. Tim Thomas had 52 saves on the night including 32 in the third period and overtime. David Krejci scored his third goal of the series 14 minutes into overtime while James van Riemsdyk had a two-goal night as the Flyers look to win both games in Boston to even the series at two.
A strong start was something the Flyers lacked last game. This game the Flyers dictated play early.
Claude Giroux usually has flawless passing, but his assist to JVR within the first minute wasn't too pretty. Flubbing a pass from the inside part of the circle to Thomas's left, Giroux put the puck on JVR's stick, who put home the opening goal 29 seconds into the game.
Flustered by the early goal, Thomas received a delay of game penalty for whacking a puck in midair over the glass. The Flyers couldn't capitalize on the man advantage, but the Bruins didn't take advantage of their power play shortly after thanks to a Jody Shelley boarding call.
The power play has been a weak spot for both teams, but the Flyers took advantage with their second man advantage in the game. With Gregory Campbell sitting in the box for holding Daniel Carcillo, JVR registered his second goal of the game to give the Flyers a two-goal lead 9:31 into the game.
The Bruins didn't trail by two for long as Chris Kelly scored 3:19 after JVR's second goal. With Michael Ryder providing a healthy screen inches in front of Boucher, Kelly banged home a rebound to cut the deficit to one. Unfortunately, the Bruins tied the game shortly after.
One would think Thomas or Zdeno Chara would be the Flyers' biggest pain throughout the series. So far, it has been Brad Marchand. Only 1:25 after Kelly's goal, Marchand ripped a wrist shot past Boucher to tie the game at two. The result of the Flyers' quick start had quickly vanished.
Both teams nearly scored later in the period as a Kimmo Timonen shot was blocked and led to a Daniel Paille breakaway from center ice that Boucher responded to with a left leg pad save.
The remaining time in the period went scoreless resulting in a 2-2 tie at the end of the first with the Bruins out shooting Philly 16-14.
The first half of the middle period saw a lot of offensive pressure from the Bruins. Boucher was able to keep all the shots he faced in the period out of his net, but he left the game a lower body injury. Making his second relief appearance in the series, Sergei Bobrovsky came in to finish out the remaining time in the period.
Stepping in and making crucial saves late in the period, Bobrovsky helped the Flyers hold the score at 2-2 despite being grossly out played for the entire second period.
The Flyers started off the third period on the penalty kill as Scott Hartnell still had 27 seconds left in his slashing minor and Boucher back in net.
Killing off the rest of the penalty, the Flyers dictated the first half of the third period shooting 13 of the first 16 shots in the period. Countless odd man rushes led by JVR almost gave Philly their second lead of the night.
Dominating the entire third period, the Flyers came close to getting the game-winning goal late in the game, but the game was tied at two after 60 minutes. Danny Briere just missed putting home a rebound with only seconds left in the game allowing the Bruins to have a chance to head back to Boston with a 2-0 series lead.
After more and more domination in overtime, obviously the Bruins would receive the satisfaction of winning deep into the extra period. Despite having his team out shot 10-3 in overtime, Krejci bailed out his teammates with a wrist shot from the slot to give his team the 3-2 win in overtime.
JVR had two goals tonight, but he could have easily had a hat-trick. With several chances throughout, JVR came close multiple times to giving his team the game-winning goal in the third period. He had the second most shots on the night behind Mike Richards (10).
Although they were greatly out played in the second period, the Flyers dominated the third period and overtime. Unfortunately, Thomas played an amazing game making 22 saves in the third period and another 10 in overtime. His performance was highlighted with stoning JVR multiple times and stopping a Briere breakaway chance.
The Flyers look to receive a better fate in Game 3 which takes place 7:00 pm on Wednesday.
Notes: The Flyers are 2-4 in Game 2's against Boston in the playoffs. The Flyers are 2-4 at home in the 2011 playoffs (2-2-2). The Flyers have been out scored in all three periods in the series. The Flyers are 1-2 in overtime games in the 2011 playoffs; they're 0-2 at home. The Flyers are now 3-4 against the Bruins in games that go to overtime in the playoffs. JVR's goal was the fastest Flyers' goal in the 2011 playoffs. JVR has scored in five straight games. This is JVR's first multi-goal game since his hat-trick against the Islanders on March 26th. The Bruins' are now 0-for-28 on the power play in the 2011 playoffs. The second period in tonight's game was the first scoreless period in the series. The Flyers out shot the Bruins 32-12 in the third period and overtime. The Flyers are 2-4 in games without Chris Pronger in the 2011 playoffs.
The Bruins aren't the Sabres and the Flyers learned that the hard way Saturday afternoon, dropping the opening game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals 7-3.
Tim Thomas had 31 saves on 34 shots while both David Krejci and Brad Marchand had two-goal games to help the Bruins win. Patrice Bergeron had three assists as Boston grabbed the 1-0 lead in the series.
It was the first time since 1988 that Boston scored at least seven times in a playoff game, and it was the first time in five years that Philadelphia allowed that many.
In front of their home crowd, it was important for the Flyers to take charge early. When Krejci scored 1:52 into the game, the Flyers lost any hope of that happening. Working out of an early 1-0 hole, the Flyers were able to tie up the game halfway through the period.
After tipping a Braydon Coburn slap shot from the point, Danny Briere put home his own rebound 11:02 into the first period. His seventh goal of the playoffs put some life into his team, but it wouldn't leave Philly tied going into the second period.
With only 36 seconds left in the opening period, Nathan Horton followed up his own rebound in the crease and Brian Boucher flubbed the second shot to provide the one-goal lead for Boston. Outshooting Philadelphia 12-8, the Bruins deserved their 2-1 lead heading into the middle period.
The biggest problem for Philly throughout the playoffs has been goaltending. Sergei Bobrovsky, Michael Leighton, and Boucher have all struggled at times in these playoffs. Today, Boucher allowed five goals on 23 shots in less than two periods -- three of them in the second.
The first Boston goal came on the last of two attempts by Mark Recchi near the face-off dot to Boucher's left. A leaky shot from the eternally-young Recchi trickled over the goal-line to give Boston a two-goal lead only 2:33 into the period.
After both teams had two power plays, the Bruins extended their lead to three goals. On a shot from the point that found it's way through traffic, Krejci redirected an Adam McQuaid blast from blue line. Befuddling Boucher, Krejci had his second of the game and gave Boston the 4-1 lead.
It took the Bruins only 1:48 to make their lead 5-1. Marchand worked his way to the front of the net and was rewarded with a rebound that he'd put home. The goal was all Peter Laviolette needed to yank Boucher and put in Bobrovsky.
Motivating the team instantly, James van Riemsdyk scored his first goal of the series just 16 seconds after Marchand's to cut the deficit to three.
Philly stared at a tall three-goal deficit to overcome in the last 20 minutes. Not helping matters, the Flyers needed to kill off the remaining 12 seconds in a Claude Giroux slashing minor.
The Flyers didn't show any sign of life until they were handed a 5-on-3 for 56 seconds late in the third period. Not scoring with the two-man advantage, Mike Richards went short side and top shelf on Thomas to get the Flyers to within two goals.
One would think a goal from Philly should give the Flyers momentum, but Richards' goal looked to have worked the opposite way.
After pressuring the Flyers for nearly two minutes, the Bruins' ability to trap Philly in their zone led to Marchand's second tally on the day. Unfortunately, the Bruins weren't done.
Not even three minutes later, the Flyers gave up their seventh goal on the day when Gregory Campbell put home his first goal in the playoffs to give Boston a four-goal lead with only 2:21 left to play.
It seemed as though the Bruins just wanted to win more than the Flyers today. Winning most board battles and jumping on every loose puck, the Bruins scored most of their goals today as a result of hard work. It didn't help Boucher had a couple soft goals. If the Flyers want the split heading into Boston, they'll need to work harder in their next game.
The Flyers look to avenge today's loss in Game 2, which takes place at 7:30 pm on Monday.
Notes: The Flyers have never won a Game 1 against the Bruins in the playoffs (0-6). This is the Flyers' third straight playoff series where they lost Game 1. This is the first game the Bruins have won in regulation since Game 1 of the opening round. The Flyers have made four goalie changes in these playoffs, all performance-based; last postseason, the Flyers made three goalie changes in 23 games, two performance-based (Boucher sprained his knee in Game 5 of ECSF). Both Briere and JVR have scored in four straight games. This is the first time the Flyers gave up seven goals in a game since their 7-0 beating on March 6th against the Rangers. Despite the final tally, the Flyers did out shoot the Bruins 34-33, and 26-21 in the final two periods.
The game wasn't pretty, but it's what the Flyers needed; a win.
Lacking consistency in net, the Flyers fought back from a 3-1 deficit after the first period and found a way to force the game to overtime with a Scott Hartnell third period goal setting up the deciding marker by Ville Leino in overtime to win 5-4.
Danny Briere had two goals and Mike Richards had two assists while Brian Boucher got the win making 24 saves on 25 shots after relieving Michael Leighton to start the second period.
Sunday's game started off eerily similar to Friday's Game 5. Two easily saveable shots led to a Buffalo lead in the first period. A wrist shot from Rob Niedermayer and a boucing puck that was redirected by Thomas Vanek gave the Sabres a 2-0 lead only 8:41 into the game.
Keeping the game close, Briere scored the first of his two goals just over six minutes after Vanek's tally. Crashing the net, Briere grabbed the puck in front and roofed it over a sprawled out Ryan Miller to cut the deficit to one.
Unfortunately, the Flyers saw the deficit expand just before the end of the first period. With the man advantage, Vanek made Leighton look foolish with a between-the-legs shot that found the netminder's five-hole to put the lead back at two with just 33 seconds left.
Opening the second period, the Flyers found just what they needed in a quick goal from James van Riemsdyk. Claude Giroux won a faceoff that dribbled out to the slot where JVR slammed home a slap shot 49 seconds into the period moving the Flyers within one.
By the middle of the second, the Flyers had clawed their way back to a tie. As Jordan Leopold sat in the box for holding, Briere scored his second goal on the night with a shot through traffic from the inner edge of the left circle 8:43 into the period for a 3-3 contest.
That tie didn't hold up too long, as the Flyers cancelled out hard work on the penalty kill just to watch Nathan Gerbe give Buffalo a 4-3 lead late. After killing off 1:09 of 5-on-3, Gerbe pulled up to the top of the circles and ripped a wrist shot that fooled Boucher 12 seconds after the penalty's expiration.
The Flyers were left with 20 minutes to salvage their season. With the season on the line, who do the Flyers turn to? Hartnell.
Grabbing the puck in the slot from Richards, Hartnell slammed home the game-tying goal with 9:17 left in regulation-- beating a Sabres defenseman and an out-of-position Miller.
Fortunately for Philly, they were on the winning side on this warm Spring holiday.
Kris Versteeg had his initial shot blocked on the right wing, but he recouped and lifted another chance high on Miller's blocker side. The puck managed to hit Richards in front, then slide beyond Miller's reach to the right side where Leino was waiting. Finally putting a stick on the puck, Leino put it over the goal line to tie the series at three with a 5-4 overtime win.
Goaltending was an issue yet again tonight. Last game, Boucher tripped up and Leighton had to fill in. Tonight, Leighton tripped up and Bouher had to fill in. Hopefully on Tuesday, Boucher starts off the game similar to how he finished the game tonight.
Notes: Through the first period Sunday, the Sabres had outscored the Flyers by a gaudy 18-2 margin in 140 minutes worth of Game 6s (8-0 in 2001, 7-1 in 2006)...This is the Flyers first overtime win in a Game 6 since Simon Gagne's goal in the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals against Tampa Bay...Despite being out scored 3-1 in the first period, the Flyers out shot the Sabres 17-8. Mike Weber was a minus-3 on the day.
After falling in a 3-0 hole before the end of the first, the Flyers fought back to tie it at three only to lose in overtime. Tyler Ennis opened the scoring and closed the scoring for the game netting the overtime winner 5:31 past regulation. Ryan Miller had 36 saves while Michael Leighton (yup, that Michael Leighton) gets the loss in a relief appearance for Brian Boucher.
Nothing takes the energy out of the home crowd faster than an early soft goal. Ennis let the Flyers experience that with a weak shot to Boucher's right that found it's way in 2:24 into the game. The goal wasn't Boucher's only mistake.
Thomas Vanek extended the Sabres lead to two just 1:27 later as his shot along the goal-line to Boucher's left hit the netminder in the back of the leg and in. Boucher, one who usually keeps his team calm and collected, put his team in a 2-0 hole early.
The damage wasn't done for the Flyers as Marc-Andre Gragnani scored on the power play later in the period. Gragnani's marker with the man advantage forced Peter Laviolette to bring in Michael Leighton. Boucher allowed three goals on 11 shots.
Keeping the Sabres off the scoresheet for the remainder of the first, the Flyers kept the deficit to three entering the second period. Starting to create several offensive chances, the Flyers finally capitalized halfway through the period. Controlling the rebound from an Andrej Meszaros, James van Riemsdyk slipped it past Miller who was outside of the crease. JVR's craftiness opened the door for the Flyers to comeback.
After helping his team score their first goal on the night, Meszaros netted one himself. Just 1:45 after JVR's goal, Meszaros let go of a bomb that found it's way through traffic and into the net to cut the Sabres' lead to one.
The comeback wasn't complete yet, but the Flyers were coming closer by the second. Entering the final period of the play, the Flyers were still trailing by a goal after out shooting the Sabres 15-5 in the middle stanza.
It didn't take too much time for the Flyers to tie it up in the third as Danny Briere scored 3:36 into the period. As Kris Versteeg fell to the ice behind the Sabres' net, he found a way to slide the puck to Mike Richards, who then passed it across the ice to Briere. Receiving the pass, Briere rushed to the net and put home a backhander past Miller to tie the score at three.
Despite several scoring chances and forcing Buffalo to ice the puck several times, the Flyer couldn't find the game-winner in regulation as the game was sent into overtime.
Starting off the overtime how they ended the third period, the Flyers pressured the Sabres in the defensive zone early forcing the Sabres to ice the puck multiple times in a row. Unfortunately, Philly's hard work didn't pay off.
On just their third shot in overtime, the Sabres found the back of the net to take a 3-2 series lead. Mike Weber ripped a slap shot from the point that Leighton kiced right to the stick of Ennis for his second goal on the night.
The goaltending carousel continued tonight as Leighton found ice time tonight saving 20 of 21 shots. Saving all 18 shots in regulation, Leighton's only mistake on the night was his rebound on Weber's shot. Not too bad for a guy who only played in one game this year spending most of the season with the Phantoms.
One has to feel bad for Boucher. After leading his team to victory in Games 2 and 3, Boucher just didn't bring his game tonight. Yes, he also lost Game 4, but he allowed only one goal that most goalies in the league couldn't stop. In the most impactful game of the series so far, Boucher essentially spotted the Sabres' a two-goal lead. Is his confidence shot? Does Sergei Bobrovsky find his way to the bench next game?
Since there was so much criticism aimed in their direction last game it's only fair to point out how well the officiating was tonight. Obviously, there were some calls the Flyers wished would have gone their way, but the game was called fairly both ways. After not standing a chance in Game 4 due to the officials, the Flyers didn't face a second opponent in the refs tonight.
Notes: Matt Carle, despite making several sound defensive plays, was a -2 tonight. JVR had a game-high 8 shots. Briere had a game-high four PIM. Gragnani now has one goal and four assists in the series.