Work in Sports
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Brian Boucher and the Philadelphia Flyers are continuing to develop an aura of invincibility.
Boucher continued to frustrate the New Jersey Devils and Craig Berube and rookie Simon Gagne scored third-period goals as the Flyers moved within one win of the Stanley Cup Finals with a 3-1 triumph.
Written off after losing the series opener and trailing late in the second period of Game Two, Philadelphia tied a team playoff record with its fifth straight road win and can end the Eastern Conference finals at home on Monday.
"We don't think about that. We can't let ourselves start thinking like that," said right wing Mark Recchi, who scored in the first period. "We've got to think about what we've got going and what we have to do every other night. We've got an opportunity now and we have to try and take advantage of it."
"I believe that our style of play is suited to winning anywhere. I have said that all along," interim Flyers coach Craig Ramsay said. "They are a team that doesn't care where they play. They are together. They are united and they just go out and play. It doesn't matter where it is."
Boucher made 24 saves but faced only four shots in a third period dominated by the Flyers. A member of the NHL's All-Rookie Team, he made the save of the playoffs to protect a one-goal lead in Game Three, blindly extending his glove hand while spinning on his back to stop Patrik Elias' shorthanded breakaway.
There was nothing quite as spectacular tonight, although Boucher took Claude Lemieux's wrist shot off his mask and got some help as defenseman Luke Richardson swept the rebound off the goal line with just over three minutes left in the second period.
A minute earlier, Alexander Mogilny's wrister from the top of the right faceoff circle hit the right goalpost.
Known for their suffocating defensive coverage, the Devils missed assignments and were caught chasing the puck in their own zone throughout the third period. Coach Larry Robinson reacted with disgust when enforcer Berube broke a 1-1 deadlock with 7:02 remaining.
"Out of position," Robinson said. "All we had to do was stop and cover our man. For some reason, it was too hard to stop. We played such a well-disciplined game the first two periods, except for the 4-on-4. We had great opportunities and we basically gave them two goals. You can't give any goals to good teams."
Defenseman Dan McGillis kept the puck in the New Jersey zone and flipped a wrist shot from the blue line. Berube was unchecked in the slot and got the shaft of his stick on a fluttering puck, deflecting it past goaltender Martin Brodeur's blocker.
"It didn't really hit hard. I was surprised it went in because it kind of rode up the shaft and just redirected enough," Berube said. "I couldn't even tell you where it went in. I barely touched it, and it was enough to go in. Gilly made a great play, pulling it from his backhand to his forehand. That's a tough play for a 'D' man, but he did a great job and made a great shot."
"I saw (our guys) give it away a few times," said Brodeur. "It went to the point and their defenseman just threw a bomb and it was coming right at my chest. The guy was by himself there and hit the shot with his stick, and it just went far side."
It was Berube's first point of this year's playoffs and his third goal in 86 career postseason games.
With the Devils unable to test Boucher, Gagne got another clinching goal. Also a member of the All-Rookie Team, he was unchecked at the left post when he banged in a perfect cross-ice pass from defenseman Eric Desjardins with 3:20 left.
On Thursday, Gagne also scored late in the third period to finish off a 4-2 victory.
Bobby Holik had the lone goal for the Devils, who picked the wrong time for their first three-game losing streak since the end of February.
"It was just a mild letdown. This isn't the regular season, you can't afford to have letdowns," Robinson said. "We didn't get a break tonight. Every bounce went their way, and we didn't get any bounces. In the end, that's the difference. But when you're working and you're plodding and you're fighting through checks and you're being determined, bounces are going to go your way. That's why they're getting the bounces, because they're determined."
The Flyers went the first 7 1/2 minutes without a shot but grabbed a 1-0 lead on red-hot Mark Recchi's goal with 3:53 left in the opening period.
Brodeur, who was shaky in Game Three, tried to play the puck to defenseman Brian Rafalski. But Gagne intercepted and flipped a shot from a tight angle on the left side. Recchi deflected it and the puck found just enough room between Brodeur's right arm and the left post.
"The first goal was an unfortunate situation," Brodeur admitted. "I kind of mishandled the pass a little bit. It's not that I went way out of my net to force the play. The play was there and I just missed the pass. It ended up a lucky goal. From behind the goal line, it went off me, it went off the post and went in."
It was Recchi's sixth playoff goal and fifth in the last six games.
The Flyers went on to improve to 8-0 in the postseason when scoring first, although New Jersey capitalized on a mistake to get the tying tally with 7:47 left in the second period.
Philadelphia's Keith Primeau tried to clear the puck up the middle of his own zone, but Sergei Brylin intercepted at the top of the slot and worked a give-and-go with Randy McKay. Brylin passed to the right circle, where Holik finished the tic-tac-toe play by beating Boucher between the pads.
"I thought Brylin was deeper and I put it right on him. It's a terrible play, but fortunately it didn't cost us," Primeau said.
It was the second goal of the series for Holik, who ended a 28-game playoff scoring drought in Game One.
"We felt that being tied after two periods isn't a bad thing for us. There was no reason to panic," Boucher said. "Twenty minutes to win a hockey game for us on the road is a pretty good thing."
John LeClair, who needed more than three dozen stitches to close facial cuts after taking a slash from Brodeur in Game Three, generated two stellar chances for the Flyers. He broke down the right side on a 2-on-1 early in the second period and forced Brodeur to make a left arm save, then skated through three defenders before Brodeur extended the shaft of his stick to stop his shot midway through the third.
Philadelphia again was without center Daymond Langkow, who is still suffering the effects of a concussion suffered in Game Two.