It seemed as if only one Devil answered the call in tonight’s game three matchup. That Devil? Martin Brodeur. The Devils’ goalie made 31 difficult saves, keeping his team in the game while everything around him crumbled. Without much help from the offense, Brodeur needed to be perfect to keep the team in the game. And he was, until overtime. One puck found its way through, and the Flyers pounced on the opportunity, with Daniel Carcillo netting the overtime winner.
Now, the Devils head into game four Tuesday night with several questions. Will the offense step up? Can the defense play well? Will the Devils figure out how to capitalize on the power play? With all the momentum now on the Flyers’ side, the Devils will have to come out with an inspired effort to take game four and go back home with the series tied.
1. Carcillo’s Game-Winning Goal
The Flyers absolutely dominated the third period, outshooting the Devils, 12-3, and stifling their offense. It seemed like the Flyers would get the first opportunity to win the game, and they seemed to be earning themselves the game three victory with their play. And their opportunity came at 3:35 of the overtime period. Shortly after a failed powerplay chance, the Flyers held the puck in the Devils’ zone. Mike Richards worked the puck to the side of the net and fired a shot on Brodeur. The puck trickled through, and with the defense collapsed around Brodeur, Carcillo crashed the net. He put the puck into the empty net for his first goal of the series, and a huge momentum shift went the Flyers’ way.
2. Brodeur In The Third Period
Every single Devil played a terrible third period, except for Brodeur. If there was one guy in this game who played great, it was Brodeur. Brodeur stood tall, thwarting several quality scoring chances in the third period. Brodeur was his best penalty killer, stopping three great Flyers’ chances on the powerplay at 10:12 of the third period. A shot from the point was re-directed by Claude Giroux in front, and Brodeur went to the splits to make the save. The puck then trickled to the side of the net, where Simon Gagne took control. Brodeur, sitting on the ice, made two saves with his glove before squeezing the puck to his pads for the stoppage in play.
He also made great 5-on-5 saves, like one on Daniel Briere. With the Devils pressing in the Flyers’ zone, Scott Hartnell tipped the puck to center ice. He beat Andy Greene and moved in on Brodeur with Briere on a 2-on-1. He passed the puck to Briere on the left, who let go a shot from the low left circle. Brodeur slid across the crease and made the save.
3. Brian Rolston’s Two-Goal Night
If it wasn’t for Brian Rolston, the Devils would have put up an extremely poor offensive effort tonight. Rolston tallied two powerplay goals – his first two goals of the series – to keep the Devils in the game. His first goal came at 7:15 of the first period, giving the Devils an early 1-0 lead. With Kimmo Timonen in the box for hooking, Ilya Kovalchuk set up Rolston for a straight-on point shot. Rolston initially faked the pass, getting Ian Laperriere to slide down to the ice. Rolston blasted a shot low that went through a Dainius Zubrus screen and past Brian Boucher for his first goal of the series.
The second goal, at 16:38 of the second period, tied the game at two. The goal looked identical to the first, with Kovalchuk set up along the side boards on the powerplay, where he received a pass from Elias. The left-winger sent a pass to Rolston at the point, and Rolston fired a one-timer on net. Zubrus screened Boucher, and the puck went through the skates and into the back of the net for Rolston’s second powerplay tally of the game.
Once again, the refs decided to call a tight game. This gave both teams plenty of opportunities with the man advantage. It seemed the game would hinge on a penalty call. Both teams, but especially the Devils, couldn’t cash in on the man-advantage. The Devils went 2-for-8, only putting seven shots on net. Yes, that’s right, seven shots on eight opportunities. The Devils couldn’t even manage a shot per powerplay. They couldn’t break the Flyers’ penalty kill, and they couldn’t seem to move the puck. Whether it was the lack of aggression or a lack of execution, the powerplay just flat out stunk.
Keep reading after the jump for more of the recap!
Things I Liked:
1. Brodeur’s Play
I don’t think I can say it enough, but Brodeur played absolutely spectacular hockey. He looked like vintage Broduer, diving around the crease and frustrating the Flyers’ scorers. With the Devils’ goalie on the eve of his 38th birthday, his play tonight gives me hope that he can still provide some productive years while the Devils try and build up a young goalie in the system. His play also showed me that, unlike in years past, this playoffs will feature a sharp and focused Brodeur. Let’s hope the Devils don’t waste his effort.
Things That Annoyed Me:
1. Ilya Kovalchuk
Once again, Kovalchuk makes his away onto the “things that annoyed me” list. While he did have two assists, he also recorded zero – that’s right, ZERO – shots on net. General manager Lou Lamoriello acquired Kovalchuk for one purpose – scoring. So far, he’s only found the back of the net once, and that was in an empty-net situation. I understand that the Flyers’ are playing him tough, but it’s the job of Kovalchuk and the Devils’ coaching staff to make adjustments and get him involved. Let’s hope he breaks out in game four.
2. The Devils’ Lack of Aggression
The Devils showed nothing tonight. It almost looked like game one, where the team figured it could go out and just stumble upon a win. My observation proved to be correct. When Jamie Langenbrunner was questioned by the media about the team’s lack of aggression, he had this to say:
“I definitely think we weren’t as aggressive as we were two nights ago,” Langenbrunner said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “We got a way from that a little bit, especially 5-on-5. But we had opportunties. We just didn’t finish it and that’s the way it goes.”
IT’S THE PLAYOFFS! I understand if, in an 82 game season, the team comes out flat. But this is the postseason. There should never, EVER be a drop in aggression. Every game, whether it’s game one, three or seven, is important. To not come out and put forth a winning effort is pathetic, and this quote reeks of a pathetic attitude. If this is how the team expects to win, then the Devils are in for quite the shock when the Flyers move on. This team needs to find their aggression and that fire soon.
3. The CSN Announcers
There’s no one in this entire world who can anger me more than the Flyers’ hockey announcers. I unfortunately live in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Area while at school, and we get Comcast SportsNet. The announcing team of Jim Jackson, Bill Clement and Steve Coates are absolute garbage. At least Doc and Chico call out the Devils on mistakes. These guys make every call against Philadelphia the end of the world. I feel like I have to argue with my television while listening to these three knuckleheads.
With the loss, the Devils move to 10-14 in their last 24 playoff road games. That’s an ugly number.
The Devils are 3-13 all-time when losing game three of a series. Doesn’t bode well for a comeback, but remember the year 2000. The Devils came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Flyers.
The Devils powerplay is 3-for-16 in the series.
Game four will be Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.
All Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images