Capitals' Third Period Dooms Flyers
Tuesday, 06.19.2012 / 2:09 AM
Kevin Kurz - philadelphiaflyers.com
(Washington, DC) – The Washington Capitals scored three goals in the third period, including the game-winner by Alex Ovechkin, to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, 5-4.
Philadelphia led 4-2 after the second period due to two goals apiece by Danny Briere
and Vaclav Prospal, but the Capitals outshot the Flyers 12-3 and beat Martin Biron three times in the final frame.
Defenseman Mike Green pulled Washington to within 4-3 just 1:50 into the third. He converted a nice tip-pass from the slot by Sergei Fedorov to awaken the sold-out Verizon Center crowd.
Green’s slap shot from the point at 6:26 made it a 4-4 game. Just before the goal, the Flyers’ Patrick Thoresen blocked a slap shot and lay on the ice in pain. The referees allowed play to continue, however, and Thoresen was helped to the locker room during the Caps’ celebration.
The injury was a serious one, as Thoresen was rushed to the hospital with an injury to his groin area, according to general manager Paul Holmgren.
"The explanation we got is that if it looked like he was in danger, if it was above the upper-body area, then they would’ve blown it down," said John Stevens after the game. "He was clearly in pain and did not return, so it’s water under the bridge now. They took advantage of a good opportunity with a guy down.”
Ovechkin tallied the game-winner with just 4:32 left in regulation, when he stripped Lasse Kukkonen of the puck in front of Biron and lifted in his first career playoff goal in his first career playoff game.
"I have to make a stronger play there," said Kukkonen. "I thought he was coming from the other side, and he sneaked behind me. I've just got to make a better play. It's a tough way to lose. We played well enough to win."
“We didn't play a full game tonight,” said Mike Richards
. “We played 40 minutes, then let them come at us with a lot of momentum."
Game 2 is on Sunday afternoon at the Verizon Center (2:00 p.m., NBC).
"Momentum is on their side and we've just got to regroup," said Stevens. "You take each game, win or lose, and take what you can from it and go onto the next one. There’s such big momentum swings in a series. You can’t let one game linger on.”
Philadelphia appeared to take control of the game with three straight second period goals.
With the Flyers trailing 2-1, Briere tied it up at 11:46. After serving a slashing minor, Briere stepped out of the box and took a pass at the opposing blue line from Mike Knuble. He raced in and fired a brilliant wrist shot off of the post and in.
Philadelphia took its first lead of the game 33 seconds later. On a three-on-two rush, Vaclav Prospal was left open in the slot and buried his second goal of the game through the five-hole of goaltender Cristobal Huet.
Briere’s second goal of the game came on the power play at 15:22. Mike Richards
controlled the puck behind the net, skated to the front, and fed Briere with a pass through the crease to give Philadelphia a 4-2 lead at the second intermission.
The Capitals got goals from two unlikely sources to jump out to 1-0 and 2-1 leads. Former Flyer Donald Brashear lifted in his third career playoff goal after a shot from the point by Tom Poti rattled around the slot, and David Steckel fired in a wrist shot high over the glove of Biron after he was left alone in the circle.
Those goals were sandwiched around Prospal’s first of the game in the first period on a wrist shot with Scott Hartnell
Both teams finished 1-for-3 on the power play.
In his first career playoff start, Biron suffered the loss with 22 saves. Huet stopped 18 shots to record the victory.
Jason Smith played in the game after missing the final game of the regular season with an upper body injury. … Briere returned after missing the final two regular season games with a lower body injury. … Randy Jones missed the game with the flu. … Sami Kapanen did not play. … This is the first meeting between the Flyers and Capitals in the playoffs since 1989, and fourth overall. Washington has won two of the three. … Philadelphia was 30-1-3 in the regular season when leading after two periods.
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