(Montreal, Quebec) – Following a loss in Game 1 of their first round series against Washington, the Flyers turned to goaltender Martin Biron in Game 2. He responded with an impressive shutout victory to even the series.
After Philadelphia dropped an overtime decision against Montreal on Thursday, Biron was once again the man leading his team to a key win in Game 2 on Saturday night at the Bell Centre. He finished with 34 saves and was the star of the game as the Flyers prevailed, 4-2.
“I knew Montreal would play better and Marty had to be our best player, and he was,” said John Stevens after the game. “It’s a gutsy effort by our team.”
R.J. Umberger had two goals in the victory, while Jeff Carter and Danny Briere contributed one apiece. The series now shifts back to Philadelphia for the next two matchups, beginning with Monday’s Game 3 at the Wachovia Center (7:00 p.m, Versus).
“That’s the goal as the road team; you at least want to get a split,” said Carter, whose first period laser put the Flyers ahead, 2-0. “I think it’s huge for us going back to Philly. I know our fans are going to be fired up.”
The turning point came in the second period. The Flyers were clinging to a 2-1 lead and got the all-important fourth goal at 13:33, courtesy of Public Enemy Number One in Montreal – Briere.
On the play, Briere charged around defenseman Andrei Markov and cut to the net. He waited for goaltender Carey Price to go down and slipped in a backhand for his league-leading seventh goal in the playoffs (tying him with Detroit’s Johan Franzen, who registered a hat trick earlier in the day).
Briere, who has been booed loudly throughout the series, got his first goal since Game 6 against Washington. Vaclav Prospal, who tallied the primary assist on the play, got his first point since that same game, as the duo was reunited with forward Scott Hartnell who helped to create the turnover along the boards.
“Coming in on Price from that angle a couple times in Game 1, I tried to shoot high over his glove. He was probably expecting the same thing so this time I tried to stay to my backhand all the way around him,” explained Briere.
Biron kept it a two-goal cushion with some spectacular saves taking it to the intermission. First, he gloved a breakaway attempt by Tomas Plekanac with 5:16 left. With Hartnell in the box on a roughing call, Biron stopped Mark Streit alone in front of the net, and then somehow got his glove on an open attempt from the slot by Plekanac for arguably his best save in the playoffs.
Markov brought the Canadiens back to within a goal early in the third, but the Flyers put any thoughts of another comeback victory out of Montreal’s heads when Umberger scored at 17:39, knocking the puck from Price's glove and backhanding it in off of the post.
Kimmo Timonen, who not surprisingly led the team in ice time with 23:53, thought that the Flyers had much more energy in their game than in Game 1.
“We were a little tired, maybe [in Game 1]. We started playing really well but we didn’t have the energy to finish that game,” he said. “We came out today pretty well, and you’re going to see this kind of hockey for the rest of the series, for sure.”
The Flyers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period for the second straight game. It began with a relatively innocent looking shot by Umberger along the boards that sailed over the shoulder of Price on the near side at 5:53.
Later, on a Flyers power play, Joffrey Lupul skated the puck across the blue line and found Carter to his left. Carter’s wrister beat Price in the same place as Umberger’s goal at 8:39 for his fourth goal of the playoffs.
Montreal got a lengthy two-man advantage later in the period, due to a too many men on the ice penalty and borderline roughing call on Braydon Coburn after the whistle. Philadelphia killed the first penalty off, even while Mike Richards was without a stick, but Saku Koivu took control of the puck after a scramble behind the net and tucked it in at 16:18.
It was Koivu’s first goal in the playoffs, as he missed the first five games of Montreal’s seven-game first round win over Boston.
The game also had a decidedly nastier edge than the first game of the series. There were several scrums around each goaltender after whistles, as well as a delay in both teams leaving the ice after the second period ended with lots of pushing and shoving that resulted in coincidental minors to Jim Dowd and Roman Hamrlik to start the third.
After Umberger’s goal sealed the win, Game 1 hero Tom Kostopoulos punched Timonen in the head from behind in a classless act that left Stevens fuming.
“To go up and blindside and sucker [punch] Kimmo Timonen, on a play at the end there, that’s cowardly in my opinion,” said Stevens. “There’s no place for that.”
The Flyers are 14-15 all-time when a playoff series is tied at two games apiece. … Montreal outshot the Flyers for the game, 36-23. … Philadelphia had just two power plays (1-for-2), while the Canadiens were 1-for-4.
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