The 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.
Blue Jackets defeat Coyotes in shootout, but only after Mike Smith made franchise-record 58 saves
PHOENIX (AP) Columbus pummeled Mike Smith with a franchise-record 60 shots, Alexander Wennberg scored with 2:16 left in the third period and the Blue Jackets beat the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 in a shootout Saturday night.
Smith set a franchise record with 58 saves, but the Coyotes still lost their third straight.
Shane Doan got his 399th career goal and Radim Vrbata also scored for Arizona, which was playing its eighth overtime game in 23 contests.
Doan put Arizona ahead 2-1 at 11:04 of the second when he redirected Michael Stone‘s lobbed shot from just inside the blue line along the right boards.
Wennberg tied it at 2 by backhanding the puck between Smith’s pads off a pass from Brandon Saad.
The Blue Jackets needed only 13 seconds to take the lead in the first period. Jenner took a pass from Jack Johnson between the hashes and fired over Smith’s glove.
Smith made 47 saves between the two Columbus goals and 21 in the third period alone.
After failing to take advantage of a two-man advantage late in the first, the Coyotes evened the score on Vrbata’s rising shot off McElhinney’s blocker from the left faceoff circle for a power-play goal 63 seconds into the second period.
Smith helped preserve the lead with 5:30 left in the second, stopping Saad’s breakaway attempt with a sprawling pad save.
Don Cherry weighed in on it Saturday. As you might expect, he wasn’t in favor of the decision. Meanwhile, the Panthers lost 2-0 to the Ottawa Senators in a game that completely swung in favor of the hosts in the span of just 19 seconds.
Erik Karlsson and Derick Brassard scored early in the first period, giving Ottawa a two-goal lead and that was the only scoring of the evening.
On taking over from Gallant, interim coach Tom Rowe said, per the Sun Sentinel: “This isn’t a knock on Gerard, because he did a great job.
“I just thought some guys weren’t bringing it the way they’re capable of bringing it every single night. A little too much inconsistency. They’d come out one period and play great. Another period they just sit back a little bit too tentative.”
That second paragraph is interesting.
Against the Senators, the Panthers had a slow start, illustrated by their 19-second lapse leading to the Ottawa goals. The Panthers found their game in the second period but tested Mike Condon with only 24 shots on goal by the end of the night.
They also couldn’t capitalize on a five-on-three power play in the second period.
“It’s a tough one to swallow,” said Keith Yandle, per the Miami Herald. “They had a good start, and sometimes you have to weather the storm throughout courses of games, and they did a good job in the first 10 or 12 minutes. If you look at the second period we were better.”
There were anxious moments for the Panthers, as defenseman Aaron Ekblad took a puck to the face in the second period. He missed about two minutes of game time, but did require stitches, according to Rowe.
Avs’ D-man Johnson suffers broken fibula, out six to eight weeks
It’s obviously devastating news for Colorado, which recently had its effort ripped by coach Jared Bednar. Issues with consistency and work ethic have been around since Patrick Roy was in charge.
The Avalanche have struggled since the beginning of the season after a late-summer coaching change, but they now occupy last place in the Western Conference with five straight losses.
Johnson has 11 points, which ties him with Tyson Barrie for the team lead among defenseman in that category.
In addition to playing 22 minutes a night, which is a substantial loss because he plays on both the penalty kill and power play, he’s also one of only two blue liners with the Avalanche to have even-strength puck possession numbers greater than 50 per cent.
The difficult times for the Avalanche continue.
Video: Caggiula (finally) scores his first NHL goal
Drake Caggiula had to wait to make his NHL debut because of a hip injury suffered in pre-season. He had to wait even longer for his first NHL goal.
On Saturday, the wait for the latter ended.
Playing in just his eighth career NHL game, the North Dakota product and NCAA Frozen Four MOP — pursued by at least half a dozen teams as a college free agent — ripped home a wrist shot from the slot on the power play for career goal No. 1 in the big league.
That goal gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead over the visiting Anaheim Ducks.