NEWARK, N.J. _ Despite dropping a 5-3 decision to New Jersey in Game 2 Friday _ and missing a chance to take a firm grip of this intense, fascinating playoff series _ the Flyers aren’t in such a bad position.
In a lot of areas, they actually played better Friday than they did in Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Devils.
The Flyers had much more attack time than in Game 1, got brilliant play from their third line, and played with a tenacity that is needed to win in the post-season.
Oh, and they received a very strong performance from goalie Brian Boucher. Yes, one of the goals was a softy, but Boucher could not be faulted for any of their other four, including an empty-netter (duh). And he made several huge saves that kept the Flyers tied until the waning minutes.
The Flyers need more production from Jeff Carter. The center deserves credit for returning to action after recovering from a broken foot, but he hasn’t scored in the first two games of the series _ he did have five shots in Game 2 _ and he was minus-three on Friday.
They also can’t have defensemen Ryan Parent and Oskars Bartulis _ players who entered the night with a combined 11 games of playoff experience in their careers _ on the ice in crucial late-game situations. That became apparent Friday as they were on the ice as New Jersey swarmed the net and scored with 4:04 left to snap a 3-3 tie and even the series at one game apiece.
“You know you don’t have the luxury of the last (line) change, so you’re going to get caught out there at times” said defenseman Chris Pronger, who tied the game at 3-3 with a power-play goal late in the second period. “It’s not easy; it’s on-the-job training. I thought they (Parent and Bartulis) played pretty good. They were out there for the last goal, but they made a lot of good plays.”
After the game, the Flyers seemed disappointed but confident. They have proven they are just as good as the Devils, and that the seedings _ New Jersey is No. 2, the Flyers are No. 7 _ mean absolutely nothing.
“We have to take a lot of positives from this game and bring it for next game,” said Claude Giroux.
Giroux is one of the positives. He was sensational Friday, collecting a goal and an assist, and his line was the Flyers’ best of the night. Giroux started the game with James van Riemsdyk (assist) and Arron Asham (goal) as his wingers, but Scott Hartnell later replaced van Riemsdyk on that unit.
The Flyers, who need more scoring from their first two lines, have scored just two even-strength goals, total, in the first two games. That needs to change if they are going to advance.
Coach Peter Laviolette wasn't overly pleased to split the first two games.
“You’re catching me right after we just lost a tough game,” Laviolette said after the loss. “We got home-ice back, that’s a positive. We’ve had some success there, so we have to continue to do that. But you’re catching me and the guys probably a little irritated because we just lost the hockey game, so it’s hard to tell you we’re happy going home with a split and home ice. We need to win every hockey game.”
Breakaways. The Flyers won 53 percent of the faceoffs…. Pronger played a game-high 27:26…..Dan Carcillo played just 7:36….Game 3 is Sunday at the Wachovia Center at 6 p.m…..Patrik Elias had three assists for NJ, and Ilya Kovalchuk had an empty-net goal and two assists. It was the first time Kovy had played on the winning side in six career playoff games....The Devils were credited with 19 hits _ two more than the Flyers.