Knuble's OT Winner Puts Caps on the Brink
Tuesday, 06.19.2012 / 2:08 AM
Kevin Kurz - philadelphiaflyers.com
(Philadelphia, PA) – Danny Briere
tied the game in the third period and Mike Knuble won it in double overtime as the Flyers took a thrilling 4-3 win at the Wachovia Center to push the Washington Capitals to the brink of elimination.
Both teams had their chances through more than 26 minutes of extra time, but it was Knuble who finally ended the game. Jeff Carter
found the puck through traffic and passed it through the crease to Knuble, who was able to lift it over goaltender Cristobal Huet on a second effort at 6:40.
Philadelphia leads its Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with the Capitals, three games to one, and can close it out on Saturday in Game 5 at the Verizon Center (1:00 p.m., NBC). The Flyers are 15-2 all-time when leading a playoff series by that margin.
“We got down in the hockey game and found a way to tie it up, then both teams had chances in overtime, and we just found a way stay with it and get it done,” said John Stevens. “It’s great to see the excitement in our team after a win like that.”
The veteran Knuble considered the goal the most memorable of his career.
“It is by far my biggest one,” he said. “To score in a big hockey town like Philadelphia and to put our team up 3-1 is a huge thrill.”
The Flyers tied the game in a wild, back-and-forth third period.
Washington led 3-2 after two, and Philadelphia had trouble generating any sort of attack in the early part of the frame. Alex Ovechkin had a great opportunity to put the Capitals ahead by two goals, but couldn’t corral a bouncing rebound attempt.
A penalty for too many men on the ice at 9:20, though, put the Flyers on the power play. Philadelphia was 0-for-5 at that point on the man advantage, but Mike Richards
threaded a perfect pass through the goal crease to Briere for a goal at 10:01. It was Briere’s fifth goal of the playoffs, leading the league.
Each goaltender was called upon after that to force the game into overtime, and each was also a little lucky. Randy Jones hit the post with a wrist shot shortly after Briere’s goal, and Huet made a diving save on Knuble.
Martin Biron made a chest save on David Steckel from the slot later in the period, and also avoided disaster when he mishandled the puck at the goal line in the final seconds of regulation.
The Flyers were awarded a power play on a generous goaltender interference call on Viktor Kozlov with 2:44 left in regulation, but could not get the go-ahead goal despite sustained pressure.
Things started well enough for the Flyers, when they took the lead on Carter’s first of two goals. Just 42 seconds into the game, Carter backhanded in a pass from Knuble after Scottie Upshall dug the puck out from the corner.
Special teams were the difference in the rest of the frame. First, Ovechkin found Alexander Semin with a pass through the slot at 2:41 to make it a 1-1 game.
After Philadelphia failed to convert on three consecutive Capitals penalties, including a couple brief two-man advantages, Washington took the lead on a two-man advantage of its own. Briere and Derian Hatcher were called for penalties just 12 seconds apart, and Semin put a feed from Backstrom over the shoulder of Martin Biron at 12:59.
The Flyers tied the game on another goal by Carter after a pretty fake slap shot and pass from Jaroslav Modry with 1:27 remaining in the first.
Steve Eminger scored the only goal of the second period to give Washington a 3-2 lead.
“We had a good first period. We kind of slowed down in the last two,” said Carter. “We battled back in the third and we got the job done. That’s the main thing, is we got the win.”
The physical nature of the series picked up in Game 4, as well. Early in the game Briere, who has been constantly harassing Huet, and Semin got into a shoving match that led to a five-on-five scrum.
Later in the game, Hatcher buried Mike Green behind the Washington net and drew a retaliation call on Green although the Flyers failed to take advantage.
“It was a physical hockey game,” said Stevens. “It was a great hockey game to be a part of. Both teams played hard, we are just fortunate that we came out on the winning side.”
Stevens used the same lineup he used for Game 3. … Knuble has points in each of the four games (2g, 3a). … Upshall had two assists. … Huet had the save of the series shortly before the Flyers tied the game, diving across the crease and knocking away Upshall’s bid into an open net. … The last Flyers overtime game came two years ago, when Briere scored for Buffalo in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. … Philadelphia has won its last seven home games, including the last five in the regular season.
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