Hopefully the Flyers can reenact the second portion of their 2010 playoffs after dropping Game 3 tonight by a 5-1 count. They are now one game from elimination.
Zdeno Chara had two goals and David Krejci added three points while Tim Thomas made 37 saves as Boston has now out scored Philly 15-6 in the series. Andrej Meszaros had the only Flyers’ goal on the night, but it meant very little as the Bruins already enjoyed a 4-0 lead.
Last game it was James van Riemsdyk, this game it was Chara. Just over 30 seconds into the game, Chara walked into a gliding puck in the slot to blast it home past Brian Boucher for a very early 1-0 lead for the Bruins.
As if that first blistering score wasn’t enough to wake up the Flyers, maybe a goal 33 seconds later would do it. Krejci was the recipient of a nice between-the-legs pass from Milan Lucic behind the net. With a quick shot inside the right post, Krejci quickly gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead. A minute and three seconds into Game 3, the East’s two seed found themselves in a big hole in a must-win game.
A Peter Laviolette timeout allowed his team to calm down slightly and his club was able to skate out the rest of the period to a draw. In fact, the Flyers headed into the second period with a man advantage thanks to a Patrice Bergeron hooking penalty.
Unfortunately, Philly couldn’t capitalize on the man advantage. Adding on to that, the Flyers fought hard throughout the second period only to see their deficit increased to three.
After breaking up an offensive chance by Philly, Gregory Campbell set up Daniel Paille for an open wrist shot from the slot that got past Boucher to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead with 6:21 left in the second period.
The Bruins weren’t done, however, as Nathan Horton scored 1:35 after Paille’s marker to give the Bruins an insurmountable four-goal bulge late in the second period. Moving left to right across the circles, Horton faked a shot, then forced Boucher to open up his five-hole while trying to regain his footing. It was the exact location Horton put home his fifth goal of the playoffs.
Finished watching Boucher being roasted by Boston’s offense, Laviolette put in Sergei Bobrovsky. The native of nearby Woonsocket, Rhode Island ended up with 16 saves on 20 shots.
Meszaros responded quickly after the goalie change to cut the Flyers’ deficit to three and temporarily shut up the sarcastic Bruins’ crowd.
The Bruins had chances late in the period, but the score remained 4-1 going into the final twenty minutes of regulation. Another goalie change and another deficit late in the game were something the Flyers, yet again, were going to need to overcome to prevent another 0-3 hole to the Bruins in the playoffs.
The third period didn’t see any kind of fight from the Flyers as they only watched the Bruins’ lead increase. Late in the third period, with the game pretty much decided, the Flyers handed the Bruins a 5-0n-3 opportunity. The inept Bruins’ power play finally scored a goal in the 2011 playoffs.
Chara blasted home his second goal of the evening, another high blast which made Bobrovsky cringe, to make the score 5-1 and ultimately give the Bruins a commanding series lead heading into Game 4 on Friday back in Boston.
In a game they needed to win, the Flyers came out weak.
Two goals in the first 1:03 was all Boston needed to win tonight. The Flyers were able to overcome this deficit in last year’s series against Boston, but Claude Julien’s team has apparently learned their lesson and the Flyers look like they’re out of gas. However, it’s not over until it’s over. If the Orange and Black come out and fight next game to scrap out a win, who knows what it might lead to?
Goaltending was once again the difference in tonight’s game. The Flyers didn’t provide too many great chances, but the fact the Bruins won with the two-goal lead they were handed early in the game proves that the most important player on a team during the playoffs is the goaltender.
We can only hope Paul Holmgren addresses this situation in the offseason; we can only hope the offseason doesn’t come around until mid-June.
Notes: The Bruins are now 1-for-32 on the power play in the 2011 playoffs, and the Flyers are 7-for-46. The Flyers fell to 3-3 all-time in Game 3′s against Boston in the playoffs. With his assist in the first, Bergeron ranks second among all players in the postseason with 10 assists, while Giroux is tops with 11. Chara’s first period goal was his first in these playoffs and the Bruins’ fastest opening goal in these playoffs. In his first action since Game 4 of the ECQF, Jeff Carter had 5 shots in 16:41 of ice time.