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Briere outshines Ovechkin as Flyers take lead in series

by Brian Compton / NHL.com

Last night, Daniel Briere scored two goals to help the Flyers beat Washington 6-3 and take a 2-1 series lead. Watch Briere's goal
A few thoughts before I offer my samba services to Shannon Elizabeth:

Danny Boy! – This is why the Philadelphia Flyers handed Danny Briere a check for $52,000,000 this past summer.

Three games into this best-of-seven series with the Washington Capitals, it’s Philadelphia’s Briere who has outplayed MVP candidate Alex Ovechkin. With two more goals and an assist in Tuesday night’s 6-3 win, Briere has four tallies and six points. He’s the main reason why the Flyers have a 2-1 series lead heading into Thursday night’s Game 4.

Clearly, the postseason is bringing out the best in Philadelphia’s top forward. After losing in the semifinals last year with the Buffalo Sabres, Briere is hungry to get at least that far again.
   
“The playoffs are extra special,” Briere said. “I'm not going to lie about it, there's a little extra there.”
   
More importantly, Briere is making the players around him better. Not only did the Flyers come up with six goals Tuesday night, but the defense once again shut down Ovechkin, who is the engine that makes the Southeast Division champs go.
   
“I just think they're zoning in on our top line,” Caps defenseman Mike Green said. “I mean every time those guys touch the puck, they're getting hit. We've got to find it within us to battle through that.”

Right Back In It – Behind captain Chris Pronger, the Anaheim Ducks got back into their best-of-seven series with the Dallas Stars Tuesday night.

Tuesday night, the Anaheim Ducks won their first playoff game this postseason with a 4-2 win over Dallas. Watch Ducks-Stars video
Pronger scored a pair of goals and added an assist as the defending champs picked up a 4-2 win in Game 3 at the American Airlines Center. Anaheim can even the series at two games apiece with a win Thursday night.
   
Tuesday night was certainly a far cry from how the Ducks performed in the first two games of this series on home ice. Anaheim was outscored 9-2 by the Stars at the Honda Center.
   
“It was nice to chip in,” Pronger said. “We had a lot of guys step up and improve their efforts. It was better than it was in Anaheim, that’s for sure. … We realize the mistakes we made. We did a good job correcting those the first 33 or 35 minutes.”
   
Dallas coach Dave Tippett believes what transpired in Game 3 was nothing short of a reality check. Certainly, the Ducks weren’t as bad as they looked in Games 1 and 2.
   
“We looked jittery and made some uncharacteristic mistakes,” Tippett said. “The reality check came in tonight about how hard this series is going to be.”
   
Some teams crumble when gut-check time arrives. Anaheim rose to occasion and played the way we all know it’s capable of playing.
   
“In these situations you want to keep it as simple as possible. There was pressure to play a good hockey game,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “We had to play our best game of the series and we did. Are we going to have to play better? For sure. … We were fortunate to jump out to an early lead. But we found a way to keep it exciting at the end.”

Perfect TimingJoe Thornton picked a heck of time to score his first goal of the postseason.
   
San Jose’s No. 1 center broke a 2-2 tie with only 9.4 seconds remaining in the third period Tuesday night, as the Sharks evened their series at two games apiece in dramatic fashion with a 3-2 win against the Calgary Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
   
“I was just waiting until there was under 10 seconds left in the game,” Thornton joked. “Perfect time.”
   
The Sharks' Joe Thornton celebrates a goal as the Flames' Dion Phaneuf and goalie Miikka Kiprusoff look on during the second period last night.
Indeed it was. Had the Sharks gone on to lose the game in overtime, they would have found themselves in a 3-1 hole. San Jose certainly was aware of the situation, evidenced by the fact it allowed just 10 shots on goal in the contest.
   
It was a huge way for the Sharks to respond after blowing a 3-0 lead en route to a 4-3 loss in Game 3. The series shifts back to HP Pavilion for Game 5 on Thursday night, when Flames coach Mike Keenan will be expecting a lot more out of his club.
   
“Any time you get outshot 32-10 at home, that means you didn't come to work and you didn't put in the effort,” Keenan said. “We carried some play early, but it was all San Jose after that. They completely outplayed us.”
     
   
Do You Believe In Miracles? – It was almost unfathomable, but the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild ended a game in three periods Tuesday night.
   
And it wasn’t 3-2, either.
   
Instead, the Avs pummeled Minnesota from start to finish in Game 4 at the Pepsi Center in a 5-1 victory. With the win, Colorado pulled the series even at 2-2. Game 5 is slated for Thursday night at the Xcel Energy Center.
   
Colorado had a rare 3-0 lead after the opening period, thanks to goals from Andrew Brunette, Wojtek Wolski and Tyler Arnason. The Avs out-shot the Wild 18-7 in the first 20 minutes, much to the dismay of Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire.
   
"Why we were in this series and have had a lot of success up until now was because our defensemen have played at their best," Lemaire said. "And tonight that didn't happen. All of our defensemen lacked energy."
   
That probably won’t happen again Thursday. Fortunately, the Avalanche don’t need me to point that out to them.

“It’s 2-2 now,” Colorado center Peter Forsberg said. “We have to go there and try to win. I don’t think it will be like this in the next game.”

Playing Like A Veteran – Technically he’s a rookie, but Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price is playing like he’s been here before.
   
"That's the playoffs -- every goal matters and you've got do your best every game or else its going to bite you." - Canadiens goalie Carey Price
The fifth-overall pick in the 2005 Entry Draft was sensational again Tuesday night, as he made 27 saves in a 1-0 win against the Boston Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden. The Habs now have a 3-1 series lead and can wrap things up Thursday night at what will surely be a raucous Bell Centre.
   
With the win, Montreal improved to 15-4 since GM Bob Gainey dealt Cristobal Huet to the Washington Capitals and made Price the undisputed No. 1 goaltender. In his last seven games, Price has allowed just seven goals.
   
“He's been playing really well since December,” Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. “I think from that point on, Bob knew he would come through in the playoffs. He's been everything we expected and keeps getting better.”
   
Indeed he is. Tuesday, he made a second-period goal by veteran defenseman Patrice Brisebois stand up.
   
"That's the playoffs -- every goal matters and you've got do your best every game or else its going to bite you," Price said. "Sometimes, one goal is all you need, sometimes one goal against is all they need. That's just the way it goes."

Contact Brian Compton at: bcompton@nhl.com.



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