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Goal by van Riemsdyk proved to be catalyst

by Brian Compton
BOSTON -- James van Riemsdyk picked a heck of a time to score his first NHL playoff goal.
Just 10 days after celebrating his 21st birthday, the New Jersey native got his Philadelphia Flyers going in the right direction on Friday night as he beat Tuukka Rask with 2:48 left in the first period to cut a 3-0 deficit to 3-1.
The Flyers tied the score before the end of the second period and won it when Simon Gagne scored on the power play at 12:52 of the third in a historic 4-3 win against the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of this Eastern Conference Semifinal at TD Garden.
Philadelphia became the first team in 35 years to rally to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first three games. Without van Riemsdyk's goal late in the first period, the outcome may have been different.
"It feels great to get a goal like that, especially in a game like this," said van Riemsdyk, the No. 2 selection in the 2007 Entry Draft. "But it was a complete team effort. The leaders led the way and everyone else followed. It was a great team effort and we couldn't be more excited about moving on."
It was the first point of the series for van Riemsdyk, who, much like his teammates, struggled mightily in the early going. But he was the recipient of a lucky bounce in Game 7, as his wrister went off the skate of Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart and through the legs of goaltender Tuukka Rask. It was just what the Flyers needed before heading into the dressing room.
"That's what is great about the playoffs ... you can stink up the joint if that's what you want to call it for the first six, but he played a heck of a game today," Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger said. "He got a big goal for us. Guys can feed off that energy. He has been fairly quiet in this series. To step up and make some plays for us, it was a big boost."
It certainly was, as Scott Hartnell cut the deficit in half just 2:49 into the second period before Danny Briere tied it less than six minutes later.
"We talked about getting a goal before the period ended," van Riemsdyk said. "It was nice for us to do that and get some confidence going into the locker room. We never count ourselves out. We showed some character and kept battling. It definitely felt good to get that goal there."
Perhaps it's a sign of things to come for van Riemsdyk, who will get his first taste of the Eastern Conference Final on Sunday night when the Montreal Canadiens visit the Wachovia Center. After what the Flyers were able to accomplish in Round 2 against the Bruins, there's no reason not to feel as if they can't advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1997.
"We had a lot of confidence in ourselves in this room," van Riemsdyk said. "We knew we could play some good hockey, but we had to step up. You've got to give a lot of credit to the leaders on our team. They did a great job of not letting us quit."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

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