NHL playoffs – Habs v. Flyers Game 5: Destinies derailed and fulfilled, Flyers win 4-2

richards-flyerswin.jpgThe Flyers are headed for a date in the Stanley Cup finals after beating Montreal 4-2 and taking the Eastern Conference finals four games to one.

The Flyers were in full control of this game from the moment Mike Richards scored in the first period to tie it. Richards finished the game with three points and showing why he’s the captain of the Flyers by stepping up big in an elimination game.

While the Canadiens were able to make the game a bit more interesting after a Scott Gomez goal in the third period, the Flyers work on the penalty kill and their tenaciousness on the forecheck all game long are the reasons why they were able to dismantle Montreal efficiently. Montreal’s power play went just 1-21 in the series and they were 0-5 tonight, including not scoring on a four minute power play after a double-minor by Chris Pronger.

Montreal’s puck luck and defensive pressure waned throughout the series, Game 3 not withstanding, and while Jacques Martin was able to pull a rabbit from his hat with personnel decisions and game plans against both Washington and Pittsburgh, what they couldn’t do against Philadelphia was find a way to combat a team rolling four lines that brought the same kind of pressure all game long.  Shutting down Washington was made easier by shadowing Alex Ovechkin heavily and locking down the trap. The trap again helped beat the Penguins and frustrated Sidney Crosby to no end, but against the Flyers it did nothing.

The Flyers, after all, warmed up against teams playing similar styles in New Jersey and Boston. Philly’s style feeds off of teams playing them physically and not being afraid to get down and dirty and their own run of destiny continues on because of it. Good thing for them is that they’ll be facing the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup finals. The Hawks are a team that likes to play things the same way, albeit with talent that is a bit scarier than anything the Flyers have seen in the postseason.

As for Montreal, in a battle of teams trying to claim “destiny” as their own and the way it turns out, the only “destiny” the Montreal Canadiens will be able to take home with them will have to be an exotic dancer on St. Catherine’s Street.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals will be Saturday night at 8 pm Eastern at the United Center in Chicago.

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    Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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    Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

    McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

    With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

    1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
    2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
    3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
    4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

    As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

    Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

    The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

    Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

    Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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    Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

    Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

    McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

    Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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    The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

    They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

    The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

    Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

    The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

    The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

    Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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    Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

    Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

    Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

    via Getty Images

    The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.