It's been said that for as good a player as Peter Forsberg is, he takes his game to a whole new level in the playoffs. Flyers fans have seen that first-hand over the past two games, as Forsberg more or less has put the team on his back in terms of offense to even the series.
On this night it was two goals and an assist. One goal was an empty-netter, but the other two featured some moves right out of Forsberg's bag of tricks. He set up the Flyers first goal when he literally skated in a large circle from behind the net, all the way out through the high slot and back down towards the left post before sliding a pass to Eric Desjardins at the point. Desjardins blasted it through traffic to make the score 2-1 at the time.
In the second period, Forsberg tied the game at 2-2 on his first goal of the night. He carried the puck through center and made Tim Connolly look silly before pushing the puck ahead into the Buffalo zone. Forsberg became the trailer, and was in the perfect place to receive a Joni Pitkanen centering attempt that hit a Buffalo skate and slid into the slot.
"He is the type of player that can take over games," Desjardins said. "He has the talent and the presence when he is on the ice. He takes charge."
Ken Hitchcock was on the wrong end of many Forsberg playoff performances when Hitchcock was coaching the Dallas Stars and Forsberg was leading the Colorado Avalanche. The two teams met in many epic playoff series over the years.
"You're looking at him as a special player, but having coached against him for so many years, the way he plays right now is the way he plays every game in the playoffs," Hitchcock said. "So, it's not surprising."Umberger in the Spotlite
R.J. Umberger continued to take what has been a somewhat unusual spotlight in his first NHL playoff series. The hit he took in Game One and his subsequent recovery had been one of the main storylines of the series. Friday night, he sprung forth with a crucial goal, one that would have been the game-winner if not for a late Buffalo breakaway tally.
"It felt pretty good to get that off my back, the first one of the series," Umberger said. "It was a game that was crucial and that was the best part about it. It feels really good to get the series tied up at two, and get some momentum for our team."
The significance of the goal, not only in this game but also in the overall series, was not lost on Umberger's teammates.
"It was really special," said goaltender Robert Esche. "It's great to see him on the ice, period. But when he can chip in like that, it was pretty outstanding."
Said Forsberg after the game: "It was great to see how he played tonight. He wants to play so bad, it was great to see him get a goal in such an important part of the game. He is a very important part of this team."Desjardins Has Up-and-Down Night
It was a night of ups and downs for defenseman Eric Desjardins. It didn't start out the way he had hoped – a hard backcheck on a Buffalo breakaway turned into a goal for the Sabres when Desjardins fell and crashed into Robert Esche, sending himself, Esche and the puck into the net. But it was only a couple minutes before Desjardins made up for it with his goal off Forsberg's feed.
"It was a breakaway and I was chasing the guy down the ice," Desjardins said. "Robert stopped it but it hit my skate and went under. Right away, the ref called it a goal. You try to redeem yourself, I was glad I got the chance to. We got one goal, and we just kept on working."
The goal was the 14th playoff tally for Desjardins in his Philadelphia tenure, which is the most by a Flyers defenseman in the team's playoff history.