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Boucher continues strong run into playoffs

by Mike G. Morreale
NEWARK, N.J. -- The more confident Philadelphia Flyers goalie Brian Boucher gets, so too does the play of his teammates.

Boucher, as he was in a 2-1 shootout decision over the New York Rangers in the final game of the regular season on Sunday, was the man of the hour yet again on Wednesday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.

Boucher turned aside 23 shots, including eight in the third period, to help lead the Flyers to a stunning 2-1 victory. And just like that, the seventh-seeded Flyers have taken the home-ice advantage away from the favored and second-seeded Devils.

"I'm so happy for him; he's been playing like this down the stretch," Flyers forward Ian Laperriere said. "We're going to help him prove everybody wrong and show he's a No. 1 goalie who can help us win games this time of year. He works hard in practice and is solid. But it's also just one game (in the best-of-7 series). We have another in two days."

After putting the finishing touches on his first playoff victory in nearly 10 years, Boucher, who stopped all nine shots he faced in the opening period, spoke to the media.

Q: Did you get better as the game wore on or was the key coming up big in that first period?

Boucher: Well, you want to have a good start because it obviously helps. But I felt comfortable coming in and, I think I've said this before, we've been playing playoff hockey over the last two weeks or so. For us, it just felt like another game -- we knew it would be a tough game to win.

Q: Was that victory over the Rangers on the final day of regular season huge for your confidence?

Boucher: That win gave us nothing but good feelings. Obviously, if we lose that game, we're not here today. So the byproduct of winning that game was we get to play more hockey and we feel fortunate. At the same time, we know we're a pretty good team and when we play desperate, we do a good job. New Jersey is a tough team but we're happy to get the first one.

Q: How huge was the team's penalty-kill on Wednesday?

Boucher: Our penalty-kill has been unbelievable. We've talked about this a lot. (Blair) Betts and Lappy (Laperriere) put their bodies on the line every night to block shots and they do a great job. Our defense is so good in front of the net, showing strong sticks. We've been good lately with it and felt good on the penalty-kill, especially in the third (when the Flyers killed all three disadvantages).

Q: Did you feel at any point this season, you would get this type of opportunity?

Boucher: In the back of your mind, it's always there, but it's a long year and you never know what's going to happen. I'm just thankful to be in this position and, hopefully, I can make the most of it.

Q: Could you talk about your save on Ilya Kovalchuk midway through the first period (at the 7:52 mark off a rip from between the hash marks) to keep the game scoreless?

Boucher: I was able to pick it up and react to it. He's a sniper; you're not going to get those every time, but it was good to get that one.

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