What seemed to be a game that had me nervous before it even began turned out having me holding my breath and pulling my hair the full 64-minutes and 57-seconds.
Busing back to Beantown for the first time since the colossal 3 - 0 comeback series with the Bruins left our Flyers feeling excited and anxious to hit the ice once again in front of the local yellow & black crowd.
"I felt like the fans wanted to get back at us for what happened last year," Brian Boucher commented. And who could blame them? They already got a little bit of taste of revenge back on December 1st when Tim Thomas and his Bruins blanked the Flyers to a score of 3 - 0. This time they wanted the same orange blood and tears on their home ice.
Too bad for them we have Brian Boucher.
Boosh ended the evening stopping 35 of 36-shots, and with a 0.972 SV%. Not only was he keeping up with Thomas' save performance on the other end of the ice, but he kept it going into overtime until Captain Mike Richards burrowed a no-looking wrister through Thomas' 5-hole to win the match, 2 - 1.
"I guess the third time is a charm. I didn't know what was on the clock, so I'm glad I didn't wait. I kind of surprised him with the shot."
As you may recall, Richards is no stranger to overtime GWG's being waved off. Just three nights prior to facing Boston, Richie's sweet game-winner in OT against the San Jose Sharks was ruled no-goal after officials discovered the time on the game clock ended a tenth of a second before the puck passed the plain.
And back on November 26th, Richards' GWG in overtime was denied after that controversial unsportsmanlike conduct call on tender screening Chris Pronger.
It's great to see Richards keep at it like this regardless of being low balled twice before in very similar situations. It speaks volumes about how clutch he is on the ice and said circumstance.
But the true #1 star belongs to Philadelphia's own Brian Boucher. He really kept himself together every single second of the tilt. Although he's got a lot of thanks to give to the unbelievably outstanding defensive production from the lines in front of him, he did make some legendary saves and stops with minimal rebounds.
None of that is taking away from Tim Thomas' performance. The man's been a regular God of Goalies in net this season, and continued a 2-goals-or-less streak for 5-games after Saturday's showdown, stopping 31 of 33 Flyer pucks. I could tell you he put on a jaw-dropping clinic, but I'd be repeating every sports follower, sportscaster and writer who laid eyes on his highlights.
Thomas may have caused a lot of Flyers players and fans to shake their heads in disbelief and frustration, but that didn't stop James van Riemsdyk from socking a shot from the slot for the game's first goal putting the Flyers ahead 1 - 0 with a 1:21 to go in the 2nd.
The play began on a 3-on-2 orange stampede down the ice -- Jeff Carter skating left side with the puck, Braydon Coburn applying pressure up the center, and JVR riding the chance's coattails on the right.
Carter dishes the puck to center ice and 10-feet from the crease, van Riemsdyk sends the rubber packin' glove-side on Thomas, planting it in the twine.
It was like a play from scrimmage, beautifully mastered and carried out.
Until Boston forward Nathon Horton snuck the biscuit top shelf to tie it up in the tenth minute of the 3rd, I thought Boosh was going to skate off the ice with a shut out. The combination of great goaltending and near perfect defense given from our blue and forward lines was a recipe for flawless success.
But it is what it is, and thankfully Richards' "Three Times a Lady" game-winner in OT kept the Killer B's from tasting sweet revenge on home ice.
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Let's tackle another topic; Zherdev as the healthy scratch and Daniel Carcillo making it back in the lineup since his knee injury.
Fans questioned why sit Zherdev and not Jody "Meatbag" Shelley? Wouldn't it of been a more effective offensive front to start Carcillo over Shelley while keeping Zherdev's skills on the ice?
At first, that's exactly what I thought made sense. However, Nikolay Zherdev's anything but a two-way player, and Saturday night's game was all defense. Nik would have never been able to contribute to that defensive onslaught the Flyers dished out.
Then again, the only benefaction Shelley managed to scramble up was a 5-minute major and game misconduct he was given five minutes into the 2nd period for boarding Adam McQuaide while chasing an iced puck. But we'll get into that in another article.
With Shelley's two-game suspension for the boarding call, both Carcillo and Zherdev will have their 120-minute chance to battle it out for a roster spot.
It's no secret that head coach Peter Laviolette's had his issues with Dan Carcillo and Nikolay Zherdev -- one for his attitude and laziness issue, and another for his on-ice, heavy liable antics. So these two have a lot to prove in the upcoming back-to-back games versus the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Montreal Canadiens, and given the opponents...this is the perfect chance to turn Lavvy's head.
Tune in tomorrow night at 7:00 on Versus as our Broad Street Bullies welcome the red hot Pittsburgh Penguins into town.