Saturday, May 15, 2010

Philly completes the comeback to make history and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals

Philly did the hard way, but anyway you put it, they in to the Eastern Conference Finals after being only the 3rd team in league history to comeback from an 0-3 deficit. Just making to a Game 7 was impressive enough. What made it even better, was that they had to comeback from a 3-1 hole at the 1st intermission.

Boston thought they could cost to the Game 7 win and advance to play Montreal in the East Finals. But a pair of 2nd period goals by Scott Hartnell on a backhand shot, then Daniel Briere's 7th goal of the playoffs on a wrap around shot that was set up by Scott Hartnell near the midway point of the game which sent Flyers fans ablaze that were watching at the Wachovia Center rooting them on from Philly.

The 3rd period started with the Bruins looking to get back in it with the game tied at 3-3 but Flyers netminder by Leighton who's playing in his first NHL Playoff Run had another great game by stopping all 5, but some hairy shots that the Bruins offense gave them. Then a Too-Many-Men-on-the-Ice penalty would set up Simon Gange's power play goal with 7 minutes left to give the Flyers a 4-3 lead, that they would hold on to and complete the comeback both in the game, and in the series to win in 7 games.

The Flyers set up an underdog Eastern Conference Final as the 7th Seeded Flyers will host the Canadians starting tomorrow night at the Wachovia Center. Earlier in the day, it will be Game 1 of the Western Conference Final from San Jose as the Sharks will host the Blackhawks.

From Brian Compton of the the National Hockey League Website:

The NHL vowed that history would be made in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

On Friday Night, it was.

Simon Gagne capped an improbable rally for the Philadelphia Flyers when he broke a 3-3 tie via the power play with 7:08 remaining in regulation in a 4-3 win against the Boston Bruins in game 7 of this Eastern Conference Semifinals at the TD Garden Center.

Not only did the Flyers become the first team in 35 years to win a best-of-7 series after losing the first three games, but they also rallied from an early 3-0 deficit to win this decisive showdown. They have yet to lose since Gagne returned from a foot injury in time for Game 4.

"After Game 1, and even after 3-0 tonight, we could have quit." Gagne said. "We just said, Let's put one and you never knows what happen. We got a couple of goals to tie the game in the second, and after that the game in the second, and after that the game was right there for both teams. Fortunately, they took a penalty and we were able to score on the power play."

Not since 1991 had a team surrendering a three goal lead and lost a game 7, when the Calgary Flames suffered a 5-4 overtime defeat against the Edmonton Oilers. The New York Islanders were the last team to rally from an 0-3 deficit to win a series, in 1975 the NY Islanders; and the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs were the only other teams to do so.

"We've been resilient all year, whetever it was injuries or putting ourselves in a bad position in the standings," captain Mike Richards said. "We've been though a lot together. Our mindset was that if we are going to go down, we were going down swinging."

Philadelphia, the #7 seed in the East, will have home-ice advantage in the Conference Final against the Montreal Canadians, who upset the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins in back-to-back rounds. The Series gets underway on Sunday Night at what will surely be a raucous Wachovia Center.

Michael Leighton, who returned from injury in the series to replace an injured Brian Boucher, settled down after a rough start and finished with 22 saves. Tuukka Rask stopped 23 saves in the loss.

"I'm really proud of them I'm proud of the way they played," said Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "I'm proud of the way they represented the org. I'm proud of the way they represented themselves."

It truly was a loss of epic proportions for the Bruins, was held a 3-0 series lead and a 3-0 lead in Game 7. They couldn't hold on to it either.

"The killer instinct was missing," forward Mark Recchi admitted. "What are you going to do? Its over and we've got a long summer to think about it. It's disappointing."

Michael Ryder gave Boston the start it needed as he scored on the power play 5:27 into the game. Just 8 seconds after Flyers forward Scott Hartnell was penalized for high sticking, Ryder collected Zedno Chara's rebound at the right circle and ripped it past Leighton for his fourth goal of the playoffs.

Milan Lucic doubled the Bruins lead with another power-play goal at 9:02. A high sticking penalty on Danny Birere gave Boston its second advantage of the night, and the Bruins capitalized again as Lucic fourth goal of the postseason.

Lucic notched his second goal of the night at 14:10 of the first. With the teams at even strength, Lucic stripped Darroll Powe of the puck near the Bruins' blue-line and started a 2-on-1 with Marc Savard the other way. Lucic skated with the puck into the Flyers Zone and fired a wrist shot from the right circle past Leighton as the Bruins grabbed a 3-0 lead and seemed destined to advance to Round 3.

"We started the way we wanted to start it, Boston coach Claude Julien said. "We had lots of energy. We got a 3-0 lead."

"The Bottom line is, we had a 3-0 lead in the series. We had a 3-0 lead tonight. We blew both. There's no excuses. We have to take responsibility that goes with it. We had four tires at it and weren't able to do it."

The surrendering of the lead began when James Van Riemsdyk scored his first career playoff goal at 17:10 Miroslav Satan for the puck along the boards, Van Riemsdyk wristed a shot from the left circle that went off Mark Stuart's stick and trickled through Rask's pads.

"The message was, just score one goal," Laviolette said. "Get on the board, get in the game. That first goal was huge for me was huge."

The Flyers continued on the comeback trail as Hartnell scored just 2:49 into the 2nd period to make it 3-2. With the teams at even strength, Ville Leino came out from behind the net and backhanded a shot that Rask Denied. But the goaltender left a juicy rebound, and Hartnell was able to roof it over him and for his second goal of the playoffs.

"We didn't have the same jump. We backed off maybe a little bit," Rask said. "They came at us pretty hard to do. They played good hockey."

Briere tied at 8:31 on his seventh goal of the playoffs. Briere, who expressed his excitement for this Game 7 after the morning skate, took a nifty feed from Hartnell and sent one from behind the that went off of Matt Hunwick's skate and past Rask to tie the game at 3-3. Philadelphia had the first 7 shots of the 2nd period.

"I've said it all year and you guys laughed at me when I said I thought that we had a great playoff team," Briere said. "I just thought we had the same feeling that if we were able to start creating our own bounces, then we were able to come back in the series. I don't know if the other guys believed it, but I certainly did."

The Flyers had another potential goal waived off with 5:14 left in the 2nd period, when both Richards and Aaron Asham whacked at a loose puck in the crease. But replays concluded that it didn't cross the goal line and the game remained tied.

Each team hit the post in the third period. Chris Pronger's rocket from the point nearly gave the the Flyers the early 3rd period lead before Lucic denied a hat trick with 9 minutes left.

"We just sat back," Lucic said. We didn't keep going and that's why we lost."

The Flyers capitalized on a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty at 11:10 of the third period, as Gagne collected Richards broken pass in the slot and roofed it over Rask's right shoulder gave Philadelphia a 4-3 lead. It was his 27th career playoff goal and one that will huant at Julien and the Bruins all summer long.

"They're been calling it all playoffs. nothing there has changed," Julien said. "We had a player come to the bench and had his stick up like he wanted to change. He changed his mind and we had the next center men jumping on. They call those. We'll leave it at that."

Philadelphia Wins Series 4-3, It will be the Flyers VS. Canadians in the Eastern Conference Finals which starts tomorrow night in Philadelphia.

Game Boxscore

Philadelphia Flyers 4 Boston Bruins 3 (1-3, 2-0, 1-0)

0-1 BOS: Michael Ryder (PP) (Recchi, Chara) 5:27 1st

0-2 BOS: Milan Lucic (PP) (Wideman, Boychuk) 9:02 1st

0-3 BOS: Milan Lucic (Unassisted) 14:10 1st

1-3 PHI: James Van Riemsdyk (Giroux) 17:12 1st

2-3 PHI: Scott Hartnell (Leino, Birere) 2:49 2nd

3-3 PHI: Danny Birere (Hartnell) 8:39 2nd

4-3 PHI: Simon Gagne (PP) (Richards, Leino) 12:52 3rd

Game Stats

SOG: PHI 27 BOS 25

PIM: PHI 6 Minutes on 3 Penalties BOS 6 Minutes on 3 Penalties

PP: PHI 1/3 BOS 2/3

Goalies: Michael Leighton 22 SVS on 25 Shots BOS Tukkaa Rask 23 SVS on 27 Shots

ATT: 17565

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