(Washington, DC) Joffrey Lupul backhanded in the rebound of a point shot by Kimmo Timonen 6:06 into overtime on the power play, as the Philadelphia Flyers advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals.
The Game 7 win means that the Flyers will face the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, beginning on Thursday at the Bell Centre.
The goal was Lupul’s first of the playoffs, and Philadelphia improved to 7-6 all-time in seventh games of a playoff series.
“I tipped the puck originally, and it bounced down to the side of the net and I did what you’re supposed to do,” said Lupul of the goal. “You end up banging it in, and then 20 guys are ramming you into the boards [in celebration].”
The only previous Game 7 overtime in franchise history came 20 years ago in 1988, when the Capitals eliminated the Flyers. That game completed a three games to one comeback for Washington, something they were trying to duplicate in this game.
“Everybody was doubting us right from the get-go. Everybody though we were dead again,” said Danny Briere, who led the team in scoring with 11 points which also leads the league. “We didn’t care about what happened previously, it was all about getting that next goal [in overtime] to go ahead to the next round.”
With the game tied 2-2 after the second period, Washington had the better of the scoring chances in the third, outshooting the Flyers 16-5 in the process. Martin Biron kept them from getting the go-ahead goal, stopping John Erskine at the 13-minute mark and Alex Ovechkin’s wrist shot from the circle minutes later. A deflection by David Steckel bounced off of the handle of Biron’s stick and into the safety netting behind him with just over six minutes left in regulation.
Biron finished the game with 39 saves in a performance that was even better than his Game 2 shutout.
“The circumstances of the game were so high and the stakes were so high, it’s just amazing to be able to contribute to a winning cause,” said the goaltender, who had never played in a playoff game before the series. “This was the way I wanted to play and I’m really happy about it.”
“We have to give him a lot of credit,” said Briere. “Marty has been our backbone, playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of composure.”
The Flyers have advanced to the second round for the first time since 2004.
“There’s still a lot of meat left on the bone,” joked Biron.
With the score tied 1-1 after one, both teams raced up and down the ice in a wildly entertaining second period, each scoring once.
The Flyers took their first lead of the game just about midway through regulation. Patrick Thoresen and Shaone Morrisonn both went for a puck in front of Cristobal Huet, and Morrisonn ended up knocking his goaltender out of the crease. Meanwhile, Sami Kapanen slapped in a loose puck for his second goal of the playoffs, much to the chagrin of the sold out Washington crowd.
Biron registered an assist on the goal with his outlet pass that started the rush.
Ovechkin’s wrist shot from the top of the circle at 15:29 as a Capitals power play expired tied the score once again, but that was all that Washington would put past Biron.
The Capitals got off to the start they wanted, getting an early goal. With Scott Hartnell and Derian Hatcher in the penalty box, they scored their third two-man advantage goal of the series when Nicklas Backstrom put in a rebound off of the back boards for his fourth goal in as many games.
Washington kept up the pressure in the Flyers’ zone after that, but an Alexander Semin hooking call put Philadelphia on the power play. Scottie Upshall’s point shot trickled through the legs of Cristobal Huet to tie the game at 1-1.
Shortly after his goal, Upshall was high-sticked by Sergei Fedorov drawing a double minor on the veteran center. Steckel’s hook on Lupul gave the Flyers a full two-minute two-man advantage of their own, but they could not convert despite heavy pressure and the penalties expired as the clock hit zero in the first period.
Had the Flyers lost that would have been a key missed opportunity, but Lupul’s goal rendered it meaningless.
Rookie Steve Downie made his playoff debut in place of Riley Cote, and was whistled for two penalties. … The Flyers were playing in their first Game 7 since the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals, when they lost to Tampa Bay, 2-1. … Jim Dowd played in the sixth Game 7 of his career, the most on the Flyers. Fedorov played in his seventh, leading Washington.
- - -
1 - 0 WSH
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 PHI
2 - 2 Tie
1st OT Period
3 - 2 PHI
Hi stick - double minor