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Flyers' double-OT win puts Caps on brink of elimination

by John Kreiser and Brian Hunter

Mike Knuble's goal gives him five points through four playoff games and the Flyers a 4-3, double-OT win on Thursday.
Check out highlights from Philadelphia's victory 
Gordie Howe didn’t win his first playoff series. Neither did Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky or Sidney Crosby. Alex Ovechkin is one loss away from joining that list.

The Philadelphia Flyers kept the NHL’s leading regular-season goal-scorer from lighting the red light for the third consecutive game. Instead, Daniel Briere tied the game in the third period and Mike Knuble got the winner 6:40 into the second overtime as the Flyers beat Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals 4-3 on Thursday night, giving Philadelphia a 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

Knuble said it was the most thrilling goal of his 11-year career.

"It was by far my biggest one," he said.

Philadelphia can send the Caps home for the summer with a win Saturday afternoon in Washington.

"It's not over yet," Ovechkin said.

Caps coach Bruce Boudreau isn’t hoisting any surrender flags, either.

"You take it home and have to take care of business there," Boudreau said. "They counted us out after Game 2. They counted us out after Game 3. I'm sure they'll count us out now. When they had to win seven in a row, they did it — so don't count us out."

The teams traded chances in a frantic but scoreless first overtime, firing 11 shots on goal apiece and showing no signs of fatigue, but Philadelphia dominated play in the second extra period. Knuble got the winner when Carter dug the puck out of a pile and passed it in front. Knuble’s first shot was stopped by Cristobal Huet, but he got the rebound and flipped it high into the net — then was mobbed by his teammates while the sellout crowd roared in celebration.

"It's an unbelievable feeling to score in this town and hear the building go nuts," Knuble said. "You pinch yourself. You can't believe it's happening."

Ovechkin had an assist and the winning goal in Game 1, but has been shut down since then. He had assists on first-period goals by Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin, but managed only one shot on goal — three more were blocked, and he missed the net on six more.

Jeff Carter triggered an early celebration at the Wachovia Center when he beat Cristobal Huet just 42 seconds into the game. But the Caps increased the tempo of heir play, and Backstrom’s power-play goal at 2:41 tied the game and quieted the crowd.

The Caps continued to take the play to the Flyers and made them pay for a lack of discipline when Semin took a no-look pass from Backstrom and rifled a high wrist shot past Martin Biron at 12:59 with Philadelphia down two men.

Carter got the crowd back into the game when he scored his second of the night with 1:23 left in the period.

The Capitals went back in front at 5:56 of the second period when the Flyers could not clear the puck out of the zone. Steve Eminger made them pay when he flipped the puck past Biron from the bottom of the right circle for his first goal of the series.

“We had a good first period. We kind of slowed down in the last two,” Carter said. “We battled back in the third and we got the job done. That’s the main thing, is we got the win.”

Washington had several chances to extend its lead before a bench penalty for too many men on the ice at 9:20 of the third period gave Philadelphia the opportunity to tie the score. Briere, stationed to the right of Huet, took Mike Richards’ hard pass below the goal line, controlled the puck and slammed it into the open side at 10:01. It was his 18th career playoff goal and fifth of this year’s playoffs, the most of any player.

The Flyers had a late power play and peppered Huet but couldn’t get the puck past him.

“We got down in the hockey game and found a way to tie it up, then both teams had chances in overtime, and we just found a way stay with it and get it done,” Stevens said. “It’s great to see the excitement in our team after a win like that.”

Four-goal third period helps Bruins avoid elimination | Video

Boston’s Phil Kessel spent the last three games in street clothes. Restored to the lineup Thursday night, he helped ensure that the Bruins won’t be spectators for the rest of the postseason just yet.

Kessel scored in the second period to tie the score and four Bruins got their first goals of the series during an offensive outburst in the third that carried them to a 5-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Tim Thomas stopped 31 shots as the Bruins avoided elimination and drew to within 3-2 in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference quarterfinal that shifts back to Boston for Game 6 on Saturday night.

Phil Kessel's return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for three games resulted in his first playoff goal and a 5-1 win for the Bruins. Boston closed the gap in their playoff series, as the Canadiens now hold a 3-2 lead.

Alex Kovalev scored midway through the first for the Canadiens, who were seeking to become the second NHL team to advance to the second round after Pittsburgh completed a four-game sweep of Ottawa on Wednesday.

But Kessel made his presence felt by notching the first goal of his playoff career in his second game. A healthy scratch since playing in Game 1, he capitalized on a Boston power play, ripping a shot from the left side past Montreal goaltender Carey Price at 7:45 of the middle period.

“It’s great to see that Phil can step it up, and obviously tonight he had a huge game for us,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. “He scored a goal, he contributed in every way and that’s what we need from him.”

Boston coach Claude Julien had benched Kessel after saying the young forward had not displayed the required level of grit to compete in the playoffs.

“When a player comes back from being out, you hope he makes an impact,” Julien said. “I’m one of the first guys to challenge players to prove me wrong.”

Glen Metropolit put Boston ahead to stay 3:31 into the third before Chara, Marco Sturm and Vladimir Sobotka all got on the board to extend the lead. Petteri Nokelainen made the key play on Metropolit’s goal, getting his stick on a puck that Price had gloved and then dropped in front of his net intending to feed Maxim Lapierre. Instead, it went to Metropolit and he batted it into a wide-open net to put the Bruins ahead to stay.

“I think the hockey gods owed us one or two,” said Metropolit, whose last goal came on Feb. 5. “It surprised me mostly. I went in front, I heard the crowd moan and there it was. For the last three or four games we’ve competed hard. This time, we finally got some breaks.”

A pair of big special-teams plays allowed Boston to put the game away. Chara scored the Bruins’ second power-play goal of the night with a left-point slap shot that beat Price at 5:49, then Sturm put a slap shot in the upper right corner of the net with 4:47 left for a shorthanded tally. Sobotka’s unassisted goal with 2:12 remaining capped the scoring.

Price, who had been 15-4 since assuming the No. 1 goalie duties after Cristobal Huet was traded to Washington at the trade deadline, finished with 19 saves in his shakiest performance in the series. He was coming off a 1-0 victory in Boston two nights earlier.

“When a team gets a break like that, they’re going to come harder,” Price said of Metropolit’s goal. “I won’t think about it again after I leave this dressing room.”

Julien had no doubt about that and instead chose to focus on what his team could carry over into the next must-win game.

“Price had games like that during the season and he always bounces back, so I’m not saying we got inside his head,” Julien said. “We gave away a lot of chances to shoot before but this time we got pucks to the net.”

The Canadiens wasted a highlight-reel goal by Kovalev, who lost his helmet on a check by Chara in front of the Bruins’ bench, but came away with the puck and started a break with Roman Hamrlik. Kovalev would eventually cut to the net, glove down a point shot by Patrice Brisebois and put a shot past Thomas while skating through the slot at 9:47 of the first.

“We played very well in the first period and we could have had a bigger lead, but then we stopped skating,” Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. “Maybe we thought it would be easy and that Carey would make all the saves. But then they got that goal and the gates opened up.”

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report


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