PHILADELPHIA -- Ten years ago, the Philadelphia Flyers lost a disheartening seven-game series to the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Final behind a young rookie goalie named Brian Boucher.
It's the only time in eight tries that the Devils have rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to win a Stanley Cup Playoff series. Boucher, now a 10-year veteran, is determined not to let history repeat itself.
Boucher was splendid again on Tuesday night, turning aside 30 shots and leading the Flyers to a 4-1 victory over the Devils to take a 3-1 series lead in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal. Jeff Carter scored his first two goals of the playoffs and Danny Briere chipped in with a goal and an assist as the underdog Flyers, who finished 15 points behind the Devils in the conference, moved within one win of advancing to the conference semifinals. The second-seeded Devils, meanwhile, are one loss from their third straight first-round exit. The Flyers can finish off the Devils in Game 5 at Prudential Center on Thursday.
Briere's not making his second-round reservations just yet
"They always say that the last win, the fourth win, is always the toughest to get," Briere said. "We know it's not going to be easy in their building and they're going to come out pretty desperate on Thursday. We have to find a way to match up that intensity without getting into penalty trouble. The last few games, I thought 5-on-5 we're doing a really good job not giving up much and creating chances. So if we're able to keep the 5-on-5, our chances will be a lot better."
Philadelphia is 17-2 all-time when leading 3-1 in a series . New Jersey owns a 1-7 mark when trailing 3-1. Since beating the Flyers in 2000 on the way to the Stanley Cup, the Devils have been down 3-1 four times, including in the 2004 conference quarterfinals against the Flyers, and failed to get as far as the sixth game.
Boucher hopes to keep that streak intact and gain a measure of revenge for what happened a decade ago.
"It's hard not to think about it now, but hopefully the script is written differently this time," Boucher said. "I mean 10 years is 10 years ago. Certainly, you can learn from experiences like that, good and bad. If there is one thing I know, I know that the series is not over until it is over and when they got a world-class goalie over there at the other end, he's capable of stealing games so our focus needs to be Game 5."
The Flyers snapped a 1-1 tie 17:27 into the second when Briere skated hard down his right wing after controlling a pass from Braydon Coburn in the neutral zone before firing a slap shot from the top of the right circle that beat Martin Brodeur high to the short side.
Daniel Carcillo, who scored the OT winner in Game 3, made it 3-1 at 4:10 of the third period, beating Brodeur with a bad-angled shot from the left wing. The goal took away any momentum the Devils might have had at the time.
"He turned around and shot it and he didn't really shoot it against the post," Brodeur said. "He shot it in the middle and I thought my pad was flat on the ice, but I guess it went through."
Carter got for his second of the game during a 5-on-3 man advantage at 9:28 of the third, beating Brodeur with a slap shot from the top of the left circle for a 4-1 lead. The goal came nine seconds after coach Peter Laviolette had called a timeout.
"I brought them back … they were out there for a little bit, I brought them back just to freshen up a little bit and catch their breath," Laviolette said. "By the time they got to the bench they had already had a faceoff play set up. So we just rested them, we ended up winning the faceoff, executed the play and it ended up in the net. But they came back with the play."
The Flyers finished 2-for-8 on the power play, while the Devils were 1-for-8 with the man advantage -- and are now 4-for-24 for the series. The lone goal came 12:24 into the first period when Ilya Kovalchuk scored during a 5-on-3 advantage. Carter tied it 9:08 into the second with the Flyers' first power-play goal.
Brodeur, who finished with 24 saves, failed for the second time in his bid for playoff win No. 100 -- instead, he took his 80th career postseason loss. He lost despite making one the finest stops of his career early in the second period on Simon Gagne.
The Flyers did receive a bit of bad news following their big triumph as Gagne was forced to leave the game with less than eight minutes remaining in the second period after taking a Brian Rolston slap shot to the left ankle.
"Simon's a big player on our team, but someone is going to have to step up if he can't play," Flyers General Manger Paul Holmgren told reporters after the game. Gagne is scheduled for X-rays on Wednesday.
Like his goaltender, Laviolette isn't ready to declare victory.
"They've got a really good hockey team, outstanding goaltending, well-coached, their players are terrific players," Laviolette said. "They had a really strong season. They've given us a lot, and I think our guys have responded well. I would imagine it's going to be a tough game for us going back there."
But the Devils, who've scored just nine goals in the four games, have to find a way to beat Boucher or another season will come to an unexpectedly early end.
"Bottom line is, we've got to find a way to score some goals and to win the hockey game," forward Patrik Elias said, "even if it's 1-0."
Best shift: If it wasn't the save of these Stanley Cup Playoffs, it most certainly was the finest stop of this best-of-seven series. It occurred at the 4:29 of the second period. Following a turnover at the Devils blue line, Daniel Carcillo controlled the puck at the left point and fed Mike Richards in the slot. With his back to the net and Brodeur sliding to the ice on his side, Richards alertly one-touched a pass to Simon Gagne skating down the slot. Gagne, in search of his first goal of these playoffs, ripped a snap shot from 19 feet that Brodeur somehow snared with his left glove, sending the 19,709 in attendance into a state of disbelief.