The task was simple for the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Five of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Boston Bruins: win, and they would live to see another day.
Well, the heart of the Orange and Black still pumps on.
The Flyers rode a four goal avalanche at the hands of the Bruins this evening in Beantown to make their best of seven series against the Boston Bruins that much more interesting, now making the games totals at three to two in favor of Boston. Just Friday night, the series was convincingly three to zero. However, a Simon Gagne overtime winner in Game Four, followed up by an offensive explosion in Game Five now means that the Flyers have a little bit more than a bark in this series, and are slowly trending towards a bite as the two teams shift back to Philadelphia for what should an incredible sixth game.
The Orange and Black got things going tonight at TD Banknorth Garden as they silenced what was a raucous crowd in Boston just under seven minutes into the contest. Chris Pronger let fly a slapshot from the top of the circle, and while Tuukka Rask made the initial save, the rebound fluttered into the front of the crease and right onto Ville Leino’s stick, who buried his opportunity to make the score 1-0 in favor of the visitors. The goal by Leino proved a sign of good things to come from the Finnish forward, who is now going to be counted upon more than ever to pick up the slack of his supporting cast peers. Although the first period ended with a score of 1-0 in the Flyers’ favor, it was easy to notice that it was the visitors, and not the hometown Bruins, who were carrying the play early on.
That trend continued into the second period, when Scott Hartnell finally got himself off the schnide and scored what may have been his first goal in a century, but certainly his first of the playoffs, to make the score firmly 2-0 in favor of Philadelphia, and suck most of the remaining energy completely out of the TD Banknorth Garden. However, it’s easy to build a two-goal lead, but it’s even easier to have that lead slip away, especially on the road. The Flyers made sure that wasn’t the case tonight. Simon Gagne buried a power play goal – the Flyers only tally with the extra man in nine opportunities, yeesh – to put the Orange and Black up 3-0 and basically set the tone and the mindset that there certainly would be a Game Six between these two teams.
The second period was not all perfect for the Flyers, however. Brian Boucher was the recipient of a freak accident in which his teammate Ryan Parent fell on top of him, causing Boosh to be positioned in a severely awkward angle, and resulting in an injury. As of now, it appears it’s a sprained MCL, but either way, Boucher is more than likely done for the remainder of this round. Fortunately for the Flyers, as I mentioned in my game preview, Michael Leighton returned from injury tonight and was on the bench as the Flyers’ back-up. The man who earlier this year saved the Flyers season now has the opportunity to do it again, and proved himself capable in his first test, replacing the wounded Boucher midway through the second period and stopping all 14 shots he faced from that point forward.
Late into the second period and into the third, the Bruins got rather frustrated and started taking some stupid penalties. Steve Begin leveled Claude Giroux from behind and left the Flyers sniper hurt on the ice, only to be assessed a two-minute minor penalty. I’d be appalled if the NHL didn’t look more into the situation tomorrow and possibly even suspend Begin for Game Five. It was an obvious intent to injure, and may be “rewarded” with a sit-down from the league. Chris Pronger also deliberately had his legs taken out by Blake Wheeler, and Vladimir Sobotka looked like a chicken running around with his head cut off on the ice (Scott Hartnell most of the time in a Flyers uniform) tonight as opposed to a player playing with a purpose. A third period break away goal by Simon Gagne made things 4-0 in favor of the Flyers, emptied out the TD Banknorth Garden, and sent the two teams to Philadelphia to play an ultra-pivotal Game Six. It’s Michael Leighton’s show the rest of the way, but if the Flyers play the way they did tonight in the defensive zone the rest of the way, than they should have a chance in Game Six and (possibly) beyond from here on out.
To the Wachovia Center we go, can’t wait to see how crazy it’s going to be inside there!