Devils goalie, Martin Brodeur, sealed his 99th career playoff win last Friday night when New Jersey topped Philadelphia 5 - 3 on Devils ice.
Brodeur stopped 26 shots only allowing Flyers forwards, Arron Asham and Claude Giroux, and defenseman, Chris Pronger, to score the only Philly goals all night.
Even though the game ended in a loss for the Flyers, no one seemed to have a really bad game. Until he was pulled with minutes to go in the 3rd leaving the net empty for Ilya Kovalchuk to sink an easy one in, Brian Boucher stopped 28 out of 32 shots. Both teams played well and unfortunately defensemen, Matt Carle and Oskars Bartulis, were forced to stay out on the ice and prolong their shift during the Devils game winning goal.
Chris Pronger was quoted after the game, "You're going to get caught out there some times. They played good and they played well. Unfortunately, they're out there for the end of that goal. That game could have gone either way. This series is going to be a battle."
Nevertheless, the Flyers managed to split games 1 and 2 in New Jersey, and look to take on the Devils in Game 3 on home ice, Sunday, April 18th.
Just like the Sunday prior to this one, I had game tickets and plans to tailgate before the match up. A group of us met up in the parking lot outside the Spectrum and began celebrating what none of us knew was going to be the best game any of us had ever seen in person.
Molson Canadian, Italian sausage and barbecued shrimp filled my stomach, while adrenaline and ice filled my veins. The overcast and chilly, gusty winds did not play a factor in my pregame time enjoyment.
As my buddy and I entered the Wachovia and purchased some more beers, we began making our way to our seats. When we got to our row I gazed down the line of seats until my eyes rested on mine then the fan sitting adjacent to me. My jaw dropped and I couldn't believe the sight.
There sat a man who TOWERED over me just sitting down. This guy looked like John Runyan's stunt double. As I baby stepped around the others in the isle and got closer to my seat, Lurch kept getting bigger and bigger. When I finally sat down I felt like I was going to get my picture taken next to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. When this guy adjusted in his seat throughout the game, I might as well of perched myself on the North American Plate. However, he was a really nice guy and a joy to talk hockey with, so I never really minded getting smooshed.
When the puck dropped, both squads were physical. There was heavy poke checking and hitting in the corners of the ice, and a lot of verbal communication between teammates. Devils left wing, Brian Rolston, was the first to light up the scoreboard putting New Jersey 1 goal over the Orange Coats, 7 minutes and 15 seconds into the 1st period. Flyers own Claude Giroux answered back with a tying goal just over a minute after Rolston's slap shot score.
By the time the game horn sounded at the end of the 3rd period, the score was tied at 2, and both Brodeur and Boucher were having brilliant performances. Flyers Captain, Mike Richards, beat Brodeur with a wrister fed by Daniel Carcillo, and Brian Rolston managed to sink another past Boosh (both goals early in the 2nd) on a Devils power play opportunity.
It was time for overtime!
As the third minute of the OT period clicked by, the Flyers had the puck in the Devils zone. Plays were made and checks were thrown, but the Fly Guys kept the puck in Brodeur's front yard. Players gathered in Martin's crease and the puck did not seem to be visible until Mike Richards chipped the puck underneath Brodeur's leg pads to an uncovered Daniel Carcillo who poked the puck into a WIDE open Devils net!!!! Carcillo, who all season long had been under the heavy, scrutinous arm of the league and some fans, instantly became that night's Philadelphia hero! The goal horn sounded for 1 minute long, but seemed to be muffled under the crashing excitement from the attending fans.
Simon Gagne met Danny at the left point and gave each other a victory hug while the rest of the Flyers poured on top and everyone went tumbling to the ice.
I was grabbing and pumping at my Carcillo sweater I was wearing, and jumping up and down. I was screaming at the top of my lungs and began to give everyone and their grandmother's around me high fives. When I turned to slap hands with Goliath, he held his hand up and I tried my best to give him an epic high five, but that was like trying to snag a frisbee accidentally thrown and caught in a redwood's tree limb.
The place rocked for close to 10 minutes straight as players of the game were reintroduced onto the ice. Daniel wasted no time jumping out in excitement as the announcer blaired his name and the crowd roared.
After the game, Flyers forward, Ian Laperriere, was quoted saying, "He's [Carcillo] sitting next to me on the bench and I tell him it's time to be a hero and looks at me and says, 'I got that one,' and he goes out and scores. Sometimes, it might not be the goal-scorer who gets the big goal, it's the grinder. You rise to the occasion in times like this and I'm happy for him and happy for us."
For those who know me well, I have been praising Daniel Carcillo's name ever since we acquired him last season before the trade deadline, but this season he's gone higher than my expectations. He's become not only a physical player who pours his heart and soul all over the ice like Lindsay Lohan pours herself out of a L.A. bar on weekends, but he has also managed to spread his roots and become an accomplished offensive tool. His smart play is what got him in excellent position in front of the net to get that goal.
I give props to our defense for only allowing the Devils 19 shots total on Boucher (and 0 shots from Ilya Kovalchuk), our offense for stepping up and peppering Martin Brodeur with 34 total shots on goal, and especially....the man of the hour....Daniel Carcillo for overcoming all the bad mouthing he's received during his career as a Flyer and believing in himself that he can be the one to seal the deal.
Game 4 kicks off tonight in Philadelphia @ 7:30. Flyers look to put a stranglehold on the Devils 3 games to 1.
Below I added Carcillo's OT, game winning goal and his awesome celebration.