It wasn’t a work of art, but Marty Biron and the Philadelphia Flyers overcame a scary third period slowdown to defeat the visiting Montreal Canadians, 3-2, at the Wachovia Center, to take the 2-1 lead in the series.
Gliding safely in the third period with a three-goal lead, Philadelphia’s shrek-like defenseman Darian Hatcher hit Montreal’s Francis Bouillion in the numbers only five minutes into the period, mushing his head against the boards. Boullion was not seriously injured on the play but Hatcher received a questionable five-minute major and a game misconduct. The five minute man advantage was good enough to get the Canadians within one, as they tallied two power play goals from Saku Koivu (2) and Tomas Plekanec (2). Despite the comeback effort, the white flag would wave for the Habs who’s offense have shown to be anemic five-on-five.
Depth continued to be the Flyers strong suit as Scottie Upshall (2), Mike Richards (3) and R.J. Umberger (5) chased lackluster Carey Price out of the net, despite being outshot 34 to 14. The prepubescent net minder was replaced by Jaroslav Halak to start the third.
Game three also marked third time in three games the Flyers offense jumped to a multi-goal lead early, forcing the Habs to play catchup. Philly has never trailed in the series.
Biron snuffed out yet another Montreal breakaway (his third in three games), when he poke checked a telegraphed backhand-to-forehand move by Koivu in the first period. playoff rookie Biron has been sensational when it counts most for the Flyers, cutting off all angles and for the most part keeping rebounds under wraps.
Mike Richards – The future captain has not been racking up the goals in the post season (3 goals, 6 assists in 10 games) but has been doing a solid job in keeping the Canadians in check 5-on-5. Richards has also been a big reason the Habs have been atrocious on the power play – a key to the series.
Steve Downie being Steve Downie – The most exciting player in Philadelphia sports knows his role and let his character fly in game three. Seen jabbering with Canadians during the pre-game skate, he set a physical tone and like usual could be spotted dead center of a controversial play. The play started when Downie challenged Price on a loose puck in the Montreal zone. The vigilante forward brushed Price’s skate with the blade of his stick, sending the goalie flying as if he had been shot by a sniper hiding in the rafters. Downie was then mugged by Canadians Maxim Lapierre and Mike Komisarek. Buffalo Sabres hockeybuzz.com blogger with the alias “Garth”, seemed to think the innocent play was previously conspired by the evil Downie. Regardless of your opinion of Downie his legend continues to grow.
Welcome to the playoffs Jason Smith – Smith has seen his ice time dwindle as he showed his inability to stop the opposition from scoring. Once pared with the minus machine Jaroslav Modry, Smith has done considerably better playing with Lasse Kukkonen. Smith led the Flyers in hits with four, an aspect of his game that has been missing for quite some time.
Vinny Prospal, where art thou? – For most of the Canadians series Prospal has been invisible, with game three being the most noticably unnoticable. In 15 shifts, Prospal only had one shot on goal and had two attempts blocked. The super-tan forward has been weak along the boards and has been prone to turning the puck over when trying to stickhandle. On the plus side, Vinny was four-for-four in faceoffs.
The hype of violence – After the war of words between the Flyers and Habs over the Tom Kostopoulos cheap shot on Kimmon Timonen, hockey media everywhere hyped up game three as potential for apocalyptic shenanigans. They should have known better. Although the physicality did not cease, the refs Marc Joannette and Brad Watson over penalized any minor roughing to make sure the game did not get entertaining.