It was uncharted territory for the two goalies looking to hold serve long enough for their playmakers to work some magic and produce a little overtime excitement.
With each scintillating stop, however, the intensity mounted and so did the blood pressure of every fan inside the Wachovia Center during Thursday night's double-overtime thriller between the Philadelphia Flyers
and Washington Capitals
It appeared goalies Martin Biron
of the Flyers and Cristobal Huet
of the Capitals were content on taking this game right into Friday morning. The two goalies were evolving right before our eyes. Biron, a career backup in Buffalo prior to joining the Flyers last season, is making his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut this spring.
The four-and-a-half-period contest ended when Flyers wing Mike Knuble
knocked in a rebound 6:40 into the second overtime to bring the Flyers a dramatic 4-3 victory.
Biron, who used the knob of his stick to deny Sergei Fedorov
off on a two-on-one with Alex Ovechkin
just 2:57 into the first overtime, made 38 saves. Biron, who combined for 12 saves in the overtimes, admitted maintaining a similar routine from the first intermission to the last.
"You do the same things you did after the first period," Biron said. "The gear is so much different now, it dries up quicker. It can absorb a lot of water and not feel any heavier than before. There were granola bars, bananas, oranges and power drinks in here to make sure everyone was hydrated. That's the most important factor when playing in overtime.
"Everybody plays with high intensity in overtime and (the Capitals) were coming really hard at the net while both teams were playing with some desperation," Biron continued. "In net, I just take all that in and get energized by it. The overtime period goes very fast since there aren't many television timeouts, so play just keeps on going. I really feel being home was good because the fans just kept pushing us through overtime."
Huet, who foiled great scoring chances by Knuble and Scottie Upshall
in the third, finished with 42 saves.
"Huet stepped up and had a great game," Flyers wing Scottie Upshall
said. "Both goalies stepped up and you were seeing their A game."
"We felt like this was our game,” Huet said. "In overtime, I thought we were very focused. It was just too bad that we weren't on the good end of it."
Washington coach Bruce Boudreau
"I thought the goalie play was stellar," Boudreau said. "I thought both of them looked a little shaky at the start, but once the play started going, they began playing well. For as many unbelievable saves that Huet made, (Biron) stood just as tall. That save on Fedorov with the knob of his stick in the overtime off the two-on-one was fantastic."
Flyer coach John Stevens
, whose team has won 10 of its last 13 games, also credited the keepers.
"I thought Huet was great and Marty was rock solid, again," Stevens said. "(Martin) made the saves he had to make to keep us in the game."
Knuble, who called his overtime goal the biggest of his 11-season career, understands a goaltender's lonely role during the intermission break.
"You just don't talk to (Marty) and just let him go," Knuble said. "He's been around a long time and has that personality where nothing fazes him. He just keeps battling on and making some big saves and our defense did a great job in blocking shots and helping him see the puck. I certainly don't want to take any credit away from Marty, but our great team defense put their bodies on the line and did whatever it took to prevent a shot. But if it got through, Marty was there to stop it."
Flyers defensemen Jason Smith
(eight) and Kimmo Timonen
(six) led the way in blocked shots in front of Biron, who was the beneficiary of 28 blocks overall.
"It was another great game by Marty, and if he can continue to play at that level, we have a chance to win every game," said Timonen, who did another superb job keeping Ovechkin, the NHL's regular-season scoring champion, in check. "He also made some very big saves, especially in the third period and in overtime. Both goalies played well."
In four playoff games, Biron sports a 2.48 goals-against average and .901 save percentage. He also posted a 24-save, 2-0 win against Washington in Game 2 to pull his team even in the series. Huet has a 3.40 GAA with a .894 save percentage. The Flyers lead the best-of-seven series, 3-1, with Game 5 slated for Verizon Center in Washington on Saturday. Philadelphia, incidentally, has won 15 of 17 playoff series when leading three-games-to-one.
"I thought we deserved a better fate tonight," Boudreau said. "We had some good chances, but didn't finish when given some opportunities. Sometimes, when you miss opportunities, it'll come back to bite you. I thought we had them pretty tired midway through the first overtime but then we looked pretty tired in the second OT when they ended up scoring."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com.