Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Richards, Briere lead Flyers to 6-3 win

The Flyers rode the momentum of Game Two's decisive victory and beat the Capitals at every facet of the game en route to a 6-3 victory. The first home playoff game in Philadelphia in two years, the fans pumped the building full of energy from the opening face-off to the final buzzer. There was plenty for them to cheer about, including several sensational goals set up by crisp passing and shifty skating. The win gives the Flyers a 2-1 series lead over the Capitals, with Game Four coming Thursday.

The Flyers were led offensively by Danny Briere, who scored 2 goals and added an assist. He scored the first goal of the game late in the first period, a goal that was followed by three more in a span of 2 1/2 minutes. The Flyers maintained a two goal lead for most of the game, until Brooks Laich scored a controversial goal late in the third period. Laich appeared to touch the puck with a high stick that deflected it into the net, but the referees reviewed the play and still allowed it. The Flyers then clung to a 4-3 lead until Mike Richards broke in on net all alone, only to be tripped up by the Capitals, giving him the most exciting play in hockey: a penalty shot. Richards buried the shot, which then buried the Capitals. Mike Knuble later added an empty net goal to further solidify the win.

Philly now has all the momentum in this series. If it wasn't for the third period in Game One, the Flyers would be completely dominating the Capitals. The Flyers have had a two goal lead in every game, come up with more big hits, and have had better goaltending. Briere is completely outplaying Alexander Ovechkin, who has only notched one goal and two assists. He has been shut down for most of the series, and rarely flashes the ability that will likely earn him the MVP.

There was also some bad news to come out of the win for the Flyers. Kimmo Timonen was knocked into the Capitals net head first, and he had to leave the game, missing the entire third period. He has what the team is calling an upper body injury, but the early speculation was that he hurt his shoulder. Losing Timonen for any period of time would be a huge blow for the Flyers. He's easily their best d-man, and he has done an amazing job in slowing down Ovechkin. Losing him would also mean more ice time for guys like Jaroslav Modry and Lasse Kukkonen, both players that have come up small so far.

Hopefully the Flyers can ride the momentum of this big win into Thursday, where they will look to take a commanding lead in the series. If they can continue to get big shifts out of Danny Briere and Mike Richards, and Alexander Ovechkin can continue to look human, the Flyers will have a great chance of getting out of the first round.

Here's a replay of Richard's penalty shot goal:

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