NEWARK, N.J. -- Philadelphia Flyers
goalie Brian Boucher
knows good things happen when you feel good about yourself.
And boy, did Boucher certainly earn a one-way ticket to Cloud Nine on Thursday when he made 28 saves to lead the Flyers to a 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils
in the series-clinching Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at Prudential Center.
"It feels good," Boucher told reporters immediately after the game. "You never know if you'll have another chance to be in a situation like this and I'm just trying to make the most of it. I'm so grateful and thankful to have this opportunity and I'm trying to enjoy it."
He did it while matched against the NHL's career leader in wins, victories, shutouts, games played and minutes played -- New Jersey's Martin Brodeur
It was the second career playoff shutout for Boucher and his first since a 2-0 decision on April 16, 2000, in Buffalo during the Eastern Conference Semifinals. That was also the year Boucher and the Flyers lost a seven-game series in the conference final to the Devils -- a series they led, 3-1.
"Does this make up for what happened 10 years ago?" Boucher asked. "Not really. That still stings. We were on our way to the Stanley Cup Final and we lost. But this feels nice to move on to the second round. It's a whole new situation and hopefully we can keep it going."
The 33-year-old Boucher, who finished 9-18-3 with a 2.76 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in 26 regular-season appearances, is defying the odds this postseason for the Flyers. Despite the skeptics who claimed goaltending would be Philadelphia's Achilles' heel, Boucher has been a tower of strength and his teammates are just following his lead as the Cinderella of the Eastern Conference.
"We just didn't want to give them any sign of life," Boucher said. "Two of the last three games would have been in their building and if you lose two in a row, then it's 50-50 … it's a crapshoot at that point. We didn't want to get in that situation and the guys did a great job of focusing on (Thursday) and we obviously paid the price for it. (Ian Laperriere
) Lappy got (a puck) in the face and (Blair Betts
) took a shot off his hand. We received some bruises along the way but it sure feels good."
In five playoff games, Boucher owns a 4-1 mark with a 1.59 GAA and jaw-dropping .940 save percentage. He's made 126 saves on 134 shots. The victory gave Boucher a 5-4 all-time playoff mark in elimination games.
"I felt pretty good today," Boucher admitted. "But you never know. There are days when you feel good and it doesn't work out. I'm just happy to wrap it up and not allow them any life and for us to get some rest. We obviously got some guys who are banged up so it'll be nice to get some rest."
Boucher made 10 of his 28 saves in the third period and played a key role in frustrating the Devils on the power play once again.
"It seemed like a lot of their chances came on the power-play in the series. They have some talented guys out there and they had some chances, but we got the bounces (Thursday) and it stayed out," Boucher said. "It feels really good."
New Jersey finished 0-for-8 with the man advantage on Thursday and 4-for-36 for the series. The Flyers were 4-for-16 with the man advantage for the series and blocked a total of 85 shots in front of Boucher.
"(Boucher) did what he had to do," Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner
said. "We tried to get traffic in front and put a lot of shots on him. We had opportunities in front and missed. He did a good job for them."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com