Given another opportunity, the Philadelphia Flyers
didn’t let a two-goal lead slip away this time.
The Flyers got off to a fast start Sunday afternoon on first-period goals by R.J. Umberger and Jeff Carter, then proceeded to outshoot the Washington Capitals 32-14 over the final 40 minutes. Martin Biron made 24 saves for his first postseason shutout and Philadelphia’s 2-0 victory at Verizon Center evened the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at one game apiece.
The Flyers now have the home ice advantage as the best-of-seven series shifts to the Wachovia Center for Game 3 on Tuesday.
“Everybody always says you want to split, going on the road, after the first two games,” said Biron, who finished the regular season with back-to-back shutouts. “We played really well on the road, and now we have to carry that over.”
Meanwhile, the Capitals experienced a losing effort for the first time since Chicago beat them 5-0 on Mar. 19. Bruce Boudreau’s squad then won its final seven regular season games to capture the Southeast Division title and the third seed in the Eastern Conference. They also rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the third period of Game 1 and won 5-4 on an Alexander Ovechkin goal. But the same energy and effort wasn’t there Sunday.
“We got outworked, and that doesn’t sit well in here,” center Brooks Laich said. “I think they were hungry and more desperate. They don’t want to go down 2-0 in the series, and I think they stepped their game up to the next level today and we didn’t do it.”
Ovechkin put it even more simply: “We didn’t play hard, and we didn’t play our style.”
Ovechkin, whose 65 goals in 2007-08 set a single-season record for left wings, took five shots, but came up empty against Biron. On a first-period power play the Flyers goalie kicked away his wrist shot, one of three Ovechkin took during six shifts that elapsed over 10 minutes in combined time.
“I didn’t like how much he played," Boudreau said. “He stayed on too long. It’s hard when it’s Alex. He wants to go so badly. He gets it in his head, ‘I can do it,’ and most nights he can. He looked a little tired, but he looked a little frustrated as well. He wasn't getting the puck, and they were all on him when he did touch the puck. We’ve got to give him a chance to have a mediocre game once in a while.”
The Capitals enjoyed a 10-9 advantage in shots during the first period, but the Flyers converted on a pair of scoring chances. They went ahead 1-0 at 5:53 when Braydon Coburn sent a long pass from the defensive zone up to Umberger near the Washington blue line. Umberger took advantage of a line change by the Caps to split the defense and beat goaltender Cristobal Huet high on the breakaway.
Less than 10 minutes later, Carter capitalized on an odd-man rush for a 2-0 lead. Washington defenseman Mike Green, whose two goals in the third period of Game 1 erased Philadelphia’s lead and preceded Ovechkin’s winner, turned the puck over to Mike Knuble. His shot was kicked away by Huet, but the rebound went right to Carter, who scored at 15:17 for his first career playoff goal.
The Flyers didn’t sit back after that, taking play to the Capitals and relying on Biron to make the big save when it was needed. He used the handle of his stick to deny Alexander Semin on a breakaway in the second and sprawled on his back while corralling the puck with his left arm to stop David Steckel in the third.
“He made some big saves early,” Flyers center Mike Richards said. “I think three or four of them were point-blank. When a goalie does that, it gives you opportunities and momentum.” Biron and Philadelphia’s penalty killers also stymied Washington on all six of its power-play opportunities.
“I think we did a great job taking away a lot of the shots, their big weapons,” Biron said, “especially when we’re on the penalty kill. We got in front of a lot of pucks out there or made them pass it around instead of shooting. That’s something we did well.”
Material from wire services and team broadcast and online media was used in this report.