The Flyers took a three-games-to-one-lead over the New Jersey Devils in their Eastern Conference quarterfinals Tuesday, but they may have lost the services of gifted left winger Simon Gagne.
Gagne blocked Brian Rolston’s second-period shot and suffered what is believed to be a broken toe.
A decision will be made Wednesday on whether he can play Thursday in New Jersey. If not, Ville Leino figures to see his first action of the series.
“Simon’s a big player on our team, but somebody is going to have to step up if he can’t play,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said.
Gagne has no goals and two assists in the series, but has twice rattled shots off the post or crossbar. He has been one of the Flyers’ best offensive players, swarming the net but repeatedly getting turned aside by Martin Brodeur, who made the series’ best save when he robbed Gagne from the slot in Tuesday’s second period.
Brodeur was lying on his side when he threw up his glove and somehow made a glove save, preserving a 1-0 New Jersey lead with 15½ minutes left in the second.
Jeff Carter, who broke out of a scoring slump with a pair of goals, was awestruck by Brodeur’s save.
“It was something to see. I’ve never seen a save like that,” said Carter after scoring for the first time in six games since returning from a broken foot. “But we’ve been resilient all year. Been through the ups and downs. Bad breaks and good breaks, and good teams kind of keep on rolling. That’s what you have to do if you want to win games in the playoffs.”
Carter limped around the lcoker room after the game but said, "It's nothing." He will be re-examined on Wednesday.
Danny Briere, another player who had not scored in the series before Tuesday, beat Brodeur with a tracer from above the right circle to put the Flyers ahead for good, 2-1, with 2:33 remaining in the second.
Briere took a pass from defenseman Braydon Coburn and fired a shot that went over Brodeur’s glove for the 24th playoff goal of his career. The shot appeared to deflect off the stick of defenseman Paul Martin, who was a few feet in front of Briere
The line of Carter, Briere and Scott Hartnell combined for six points and 12 hits, helping to send the Devils into a three-games-to-one hole.
“There’s no pill for this,” Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said. “I think we have to be more consistent in our work. We lost discipline in the second half of the third period, which we started to take penalties. Before that, I thought we were fine most of the time. We’ve got to score more goals.”
Lemaire was frustrated by the Flyers’ 25 blocked shots _ 12 more than the Devils. Defenseman Chris Pronger, who had two assists and played a game-high 27:58, led the way with five blocks.
“You always see that go up in the playoffs, and the further you go into the playoffs, the more that number goes up,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said of the blocked shots. “They've got a shooting power play. It sets up high and has a bell of three or four guys, and they all can pound the puck. I thought our penalty killers did a great job of getting in the lanes.”
New Jersey was 1 for 8 on the power play, while the Flyers were 2 for 8. In the series, New Jersey is 4 for 24 (16.7 percent) on the power play, compared to the Flyers’ 6 for 23 (26.1 percent).
Breakaways. The Flyers had 33 hits _ 12 more than New Jersey. Dan Carcillo, who scored another goal, and Arron Asham each hit six hits for the Flyers……New Jersey won 59 percent of the faceoffs…..Brian Boucher made 30 saves, while Brodeur made 24….In even-strength situations, the Flyers outscored the Devils, 2-0. New Jersey has just four even-strength goals in the series _ two fewer than the Flyers.