Little things add up for Flyers

Forechecking, faceoff wins, and speed enabled a comeback from a sluggish first period.

Danny Briere's flair for postseason heroics, and James van Riemsdyk's rekindling his playoff magic from last season were the main stories in the Flyers' 4-3 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday afternoon.

But several little things contributed mightily to the opening-game victory in the Eastern Conference semifinals at the Wells Fargo Center.

Things such as rookie Eric Wellwood's using his speed to draw two New Jersey penalties.

Or the Flyers winning 55 percent of the faceoffs, including Claude Giroux taking 13 of his last 19 draws - after going just 1 for 6 during his team's awful first period.

Or, perhaps most important, the Flyers pinning the Devils in their zone over the last two-plus periods with a ferocious forecheck.

"I think we moved our legs pretty well since the second period," said Flyers winger Jakub Voracek, who had two assists in the victory. "We made them play with the puck more often. We put the pressure on them. They made a few turnovers, which led to some goals."

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The Devils took the first 11 shots in the opening 10 minutes as they took a 1-0 lead. After that, after the Flyers regained their legs following a weeklong layoff and got their forecheck into gear, the hosts outshot New Jersey, 36-15, the rest of the way.

"How we played in those last two periods, that's our game," said defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who made a deft pass to set up Giroux's power-play goal early in the third period. "We skated. We forechecked. We created turnovers by skating. It looked pretty good to me the last 45 minutes or so."

Players such as Wellwood, Voracek, Matt Read, and van Riemsdyk make this arguably the speediest team in Flyers history - and one of the fastest in the NHL.

"When we start thinking about our skating and our system, we play better," Timonen said. "Everybody saw how we played for those two periods. That's the way we have to keep playing."

New Jersey winger Petr Skora, who tied the game at 3-3 with 8 minutes, 38 seconds left in regulation, wasn't surprised by the Flyers' in-game turnaround.

"We knew exactly what to expect," he said. "I felt like we had a great start . . . and played our game. Giroux, [Jaromir] Jagr, all these guys, they just want to get the puck and skate with it, and we made it tough for them. I think that's how we're going to beat them. That's how we have to play, just make sure we put up that wall. Make sure they have to go through three, four to five guys all the time."

 


Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @BroadStBull.