Flyers Cash in When it Counts: Lead Series 3-1.

R.J. Umberger scored two goals and Marty Biron was dazzling, but it was Danny Briere’s power play goal with 4:48 left in the third period that broke a 2-2 tie, giving the Flyers a 3-2 victory over Montreal in pivotal game four, to take a dominant 3-1 series lead.

Umberger (7) and Scott Hartnell (2) each scored in the second period to give the Flyers another 2-0 lead, but like most 2-0 Flyers leads in the series – it evaporated.  Tomas Plekanec’s (3) redirection and Saku Koivu’s (3) rebound goals in the third period got the Canadians back into the contest, 2-2.

With four minutes remaining in the game,  Montreal’s stone-handed fourth liner Steve Begin, laid a late hit on Flyers’ diminutive forward Sami Kapanen, receiving a two-minute interference penalty. The Flyers were not tentative in capitalizing, as Vinny Prospal blasted a shot that bounced around the crease and onto the stick of Briere who put it into the Canadians’ net.

“Know what? I don’t want to get fined,” said Carbonneau, who smirked tossing veiled accusations that the refs felt bad for Philadelphia when calling the penalty on Begin. “You watch it and you watch the whole game, then tell me after. There was enough things written in the paper today.”

Besides the late-game referee decisions, Montreal continues to struggle offensively with captain Koivu being the only player with any consistent production in the series.  Weak-willed Alexei Kovalev has once again done his big game disappearing act and Andrei Kostitsyn has seemingly buckled under the physical play the Flyers have laid on him. The Canadians are also struggling on special teams, going 0-4 on the power play while allowing the Flyers to tally two goals on four power play chances.

A big part of the Flyers recent success has been their defense. Biron was sensational once again, stopping 36 shots and putting a lid on Montreal’s early offensive flurry.  But helping Biron look so good has been the Flyers defensemen, who have limited Montreal’s second chances and kept the Canadians shots – for the most part – to the perimeter.

Thumbs Up

Jaraoslav Halak – In one of the more surprising moves of the post season, Montreal decided to replace 20-year old supertender Carey Price with 22-year old Halak for game four. Halak had only started four games in the regular season and just a year ago was buried in the ECHL.  Put in a ridiculously tough position, the young goaltender did what he could to keep his team competitive and nearly came away with a win.

Chris Therien’s Begin to Beijing comment on the post-game show – As soon as the post game analysis started, former Flyers’ defenseman Chris Therien let everyone know just how he felt about Montreal’s undisciplined play. With the camera zoomed in on just his Frankenstein face, he looked dead seriously into the lens and said “Begin (pronounced BEY-ZHIN) should move to Beijing after that stupid play.” Although the line wasn’t comedic gold, the timing and seriousness in which “Bundy” said it made almost everyone watching chuckle a little.

Ron Hextall and Dave Mustaine wishing the Flyers good luck – Traditionalists and classic Flyers fans have been complaining for years on how their Flyers experience has changed during games.  With Brett Hamilton loudly cracking bad jokes and childish giveaways and kiddie contests taking away from the blood thirsty colosseum-like atmosphere.  But in the playoffs the environment has been much different.  Instead of games and wacky tom foolery, the only thing on the jumbotron have been videos of playoffs past and highlights of the season.  In game four, former Flyers’ goalie Ron Hextall appeared on the big screen to wish the Flyers good luck in their playoff run, accompanied by highlights of him attacking Chris Chelios. The crowd went into a frenzy.  Also wishing the Flyers good luck was Mega Deth’s Dave Mustaine, who told the crowd they could work security for him any day.  Good work by the Flyers organization to do things the right way and to know their fan base.

Thumbs Down

Alexei Kovalev’s kneeing – Late in the third period with the puck buried deep in the Flyers’ zone,  the soft Montreal forward extended his knee to make contact with the knee of Umberger, who topped to the ice.  Typically no call was made, but upon seeing the replay, Kovalev’s intentions were obvious.  Looks like someone is getting frustrated.

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