Daniel Carcillo. Really?
In a game that featured everything the fans in Philadelphia could’ve possibly wanted – minus the subjective officiating – the Flyers defeated the New Jersey Devils by a score of 3-2 in overtime to take a two games to one lead in the two teams’ best of seven series. The heroic overtime goal scorer? Non other than league-wide hated pest Mr. Daniel Carcillo himself. Carcillo found himself in the right spot – the doorstep – at the right time in the extra frame to bury a loose puck behind an unsuspecting Martin Brodeur and gave the Flyers a very important Game Three victory.
It was a game that the Flyers deserved to have, but playoff contests seldom work out in that fashion. Instead, tonight, the fortunes went the Flyers’ way. In a contest marred by penalties, the lack of Power Play opportunities was about the only statistical battle the Flyers lost. The Orange and Black outshot their opponents from New Jersey by an extremely wide margin, totaling 34 shots to the Devils’ 19, including outshooting New Jersey 18-4 in the third period and overtime combined. Of course, the only reason the Devils had a prayer in this contest was because of the play of their all-world goaltender Martin Brodeur. Brodeur was solid throughout, but became especially clutch as the game got tighter. He made some key stops late in the third period, to keep his team in the game and give them a chance to win, however, the Devils simply couldn’t muster any offense.
It’s kind of hard to think that the Devils had eight power plays, and only managed 19 shots for the game. What an onlooker can take from that stat is simply that the Flyers were the far better team tonight when the two squads were at even strength. The Devils scored both their goals a man-up on the Flyers, as two Brian Rolston slap shots found their way past Brian Boucher and into the net. The first Rolston goal gave the Devils the 1-0 lead early in the first period; the second tied the game at two in the second frame. After the first Rolston goal, which came on the Devils’ third power play opportunity of the game, the Flyers struck back on their first powerplay as Kimmo Timonen gave a beautiful back-door feed to Claude Giroux who completed the alley-oop to make it a tie game. The Flyers got the lead for the first time in the contest in the second period early on, as the combination of Simon Gagne, Dan Carcillo, and Mike Richards went to work. Gagne laid a massive check on Devils rook Mark Fraser behind the Devils’ cage to create a loose puck, which Carcillo picked up and gave a pass in front to Richards, who finished the slam dunk past Brodeur to give the Flyers the advantage.
The Flyers lead lasted them about fifteen minutes, before Rolston’s second of the game evened the score. The scoreboard wouldn’t change until the overtime frame, because neither team could solve the opposing netminder. This most notably applied to the Flyers forwards, who were stifled time and time again by the future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur, but, to their credit, kept coming at the 37 year old over and over. Fortunately for Brian Boucher, the Flyers goaltender only saw one shot in overtime, and it was a weak attempt from a side angle. I’m not saying Boosh would’ve easily been beat, I’m just saying it’s probably better that it didn’t have to come down to a Kovalchuk slapper or an Elias wrister.
Regardless, the most exciting game thus far of this series has ended and it’s done so with the Flyers holding the upper hand in the series at two games to one. The pressure will be all on New Jersey to even things up on Tuesday night, but the Flyers had better not make it easy for them. Instead, the Flyers should look to grab a commanding lead in this series and put all the pressure on the Devils as the series shifts back to Newark. Until then, however, all the attention is focused on Tuesday. Tonight’s win was great, and it was a great confidence builder for this club, but there’s no reason to stop now. The Flyers clearly have the Devils on the ropes a little bit. Now it’s time to kick ’em while their down. Hard.