NEWARK, N.J. - Neither the absence of two of their best forwards nor the presence of arguably the greatest goalie in NHL history could prevent the Flyers from doing the unthinkable Thursday night.

The seventh-seeded Flyers, led by Claude Giroux's two goals and Brian Boucher's superb goaltending, manhandled the second-seeded New Jersey Devils, 3-0, at the Prudential Center and won their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, four games to one.

Boucher, serenaded by "Boosh" chants throughout the night, made 27 saves - he again outplayed the legendary Martin Brodeur - and registered his first playoff shutout in 10 years, the second-longest lapse between playoff shutouts in NHL history.

In their grittiest effort of the season, the Flyers, who needed to win a shoot-out on the final day of the regular season just to qualify for the playoffs, won despite not having Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne in the lineup. Both suffered foot fractures Tuesday and will have surgery Friday.

Giroux scored a pair of second-period goals to give the Flyers a 3-0 lead. The period ended with the disinterested Devils being booed loudly as they were headed to their third straight opening-round elimination.

"The whole team stepped up," Giroux said. "We didn't want to give them any chance to come back."

The Flyers, who won nine of the 11 games against New Jersey this season, will open the Eastern Conference semifinals on the road. They will start the series at top-seeded Washington - provided the Caps finish off Montreal - and Game 1 probably will be on Thursday.

New Jersey did not score an even-strength goal in the last three games, and the Devils were 0 for 8 on the power play Thursday, while the Flyers were 2 for 6.

The only negative for the Flyers was that Ian Laperriere, their penalty-killer extraordinaire, had to be helped to the locker room after blocking a Paul Martin power-play shot with his face with 16 minutes, 4 seconds left. Laperriere lost his sight for a few minutes, left a long trail of blood at center ice, and had 60 to 70 stitches administered above his right eye.

"One of the reasons we won the series is because guys were willing to pay the price," said Danny Briere, mindful that Carter and Gagne were injured when shots hit off their skates.

Briere contributed a goal and assist.

"The thing I liked about it is that we didn't sit back," said Briere, who opened the scoring with a power-play goal 3:16 into the game. "It would have been easy for us to let them dictate and see what happened. We didn't do that. We attacked right away."

Giroux, who leads the Flyers with four playoff goals, made it 2-0 when he scored on a rebound from the slot, blasting a drive off the crossbar and past Brodeur with 8:12 left in the second period.

About two minutes later, Giroux scored a power-play goal on a rebound to put the Flyers ahead, 3-0.

Earlier in the period, with the Flyers clinging to a 1-0 lead, Boucher made several difficult saves during a Devils flurry, including a showstopper on Zach Parise in front, to maintain the one-goal lead.

Coach Peter Laviolette thought the game's first 10 minutes would be critical and hoped the Flyers could take the crowd out of the game early.

That's just what happened as Briere scored a power-play goal 3:16 into the game, giving the Flyers a 1-0 lead and quieting the crowd.

Taking a slick, left-circle feed from - who else? - Giroux, Briere had the puck bounce off his skate and onto his stick, and he backhanded a shot off the right post and past Brodeur.

"It kind of settled everyone down," said Mike Richards, who had an assist on the goal.

With New Jersey on a power play, Boucher robbed David Clarkson from the slot with 4:50 to go in the first.

The Flyers lost their top two goalies earlier in the season, so losing standouts Carter and Gagne for several weeks wouldn't faze them, defenseman Chris Pronger said before the game.

"You've got to roll with the punches. You've got to roll with what you're given," Pronger said. "With the amount of adversity we've had to face this year, this is just another in a long line of things that have happened to this team over the course of the year."

It helps that Boucher seems to have reclaimed the magic that took the Flyers to within one game of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2000.

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at 215-854-5181 or scarchidi@phillynews.com.
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