Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Flyers Win Third Straight to Force Game 7

By: Tim Brennan

The Flyers answered the bell once again by beating the Bruins 2-1 to take the series to a Game 7. Boston once led 3 games to none but have succumbed to Philly's high powered offense and relentless defense in route to a deadlocked series. The first playoff start in Michael Leighton's career was a memorable one as he collected the win and only allowed one goal while making 31 saves.

The home team's inspiration before huge games during the playoffs is a combined effort of anthem singer Lauren Hart and Kate Smith, an important piece to Flyers folklore, in singing "God Bless America". The Flyers record after the Kate Smith rendition has been tremendous and they added another win in the column.

Philadelphia's captain Mike Richards got the team on the board first and added to the intense atmosphere in the Wachovia Center when he swooped in and picked up a rebound after Simon Gagne and Dan Carcillo battled in front for the loose puck. Richards scored his 5th of the postseason, and 3rd of the series, just 6:58 in to continue his strive to dominance. Richards has comprised 8 points in 6 games and hasn't fallen short of expectations.

The Bruins continued to take undisciplined penalties and paid for their mistakes when Danny Briere scored to push Philadelphia ahead 2-0 after Bruins forward Dan Paille blatantly elbowed Scott Hartnell in the chin. Briere's attempted pass to Mike Richards down low was blocked off by a Bruins defender right back to the diminutive center who fired a snapshot over Tuukka Rask's glove hand. Later in the tilt, Vladimir Sobotka pulled down Ville Leino, leading to a penalty shot. Although Leino wasn't able to score, the Flyers proved that this was their game and that the Bruins weren't playing disciplined enough.

Flyers backstopper Michael Leighton was just 1 minute away from getting yet another shutout in the game and part of one that he has played until Milan Lucic spoiled the party. As I stated before, Lucic is tailor made for this series and it's no wonder that he has awoken after a slow start to the playoffs. Lucic battled out in front to get some space and was able to whack home a rebound coming from a point shot by Dennis Wideman. Not only has Leighton played well in coming in relief for Brian Boucher, the defense in front of him has been coming up with saves of their own, racking up 30 blocked shots.

The Flyers however would have the last laugh by winning 2-1 and ultimately pushing the series to a pressure filled Game 7 at TD Garden in Boston. It's an interesting point to bring up that the Flyers won the game while being outplayed in their own end for the majority of the game. The Bruins did a splendid job of moving the puck around in the offensive zone and pressuring the Flyers to turn it over or blindly throw the puck up the boards. The only problem was the Bruins couldn't figure out Leighton until it was too late.

The stage is set for what might be one of the best Game 7's in the history of the league. Maybe not that much but it will be a must see based on how closely these two teams match up against one another. The last team to accomplish such a feat of battling back after a 3-0 deficit was the 1975 New York Islanders, who were able to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of their quarterfinals series to move on. The Flyers are hoping for the same fate but need to continue with their strong offensive attack combined with a blinding defensive effort and continued success on the powerplay.

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