Biron Continues Brilliance To Win Split in Montreal
Recapping Games 1 & 2 between Montreal & Philadelphia
Game 1 – Montreal Canadiens 4 – Philadelphia Flyers 3 (OT)
Game 2 – Philadelphia Flyers 4 – Montreal Canadiens 2
Game #1 saw the Flyers blow their third two-goal lead of the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Philadelphia got off to a great start, getting goals from R.J. Umberger and Jim Dowd in the first period. By the end of the second period though, Andrei Kostitsyn roofed a goal in from the slot and Alexei Kovalev batted in a controversial shorthanded goal, out of mid-air. The goal was reviewed, which came to a conclusion that the puck was contacted below the crossbar, and it tied the game up for Montreal heading into the 3rd period.
Joffery Lupul gave the Flyers the 3rd period lead, scoring only 19 seconds into the period on an ugly goal that actually went into the net off his leg. Martin Biron took control for the rest of the game making 13 saves in the final frame. As I have stated before, the speed of Montreal would be the series changer. Mike Richards took an obvious kneeing penalty on Kovalev, as he attempted to deek around him in the final minute of the game utilizing his speed.
Saku Koivu won the face-off and Kovalev scored his second, by slapping the puck past Biron with only 20 seconds left in the game. This game had to be settled in overtime, which saw an unlikely hero in Tom Kostopoulos. He played a sensational game on the fore-check and deserved to pop in the game #1 winner just 48 seconds in the overtime.
Montreal looked great on the offensive side of this game, but Biron looked better, keeping this game closer than it should have been. Price’s glove side looked shaky and he dropped many pucks out of it, which cost the Habs goals. Overall, Price did finish with a better save percentage of .909, than Biron’s .882.
Here are the key factors in this series as stated in our Eastern Conference Semifinals preview:
Price did play better, but the Canadiens stole this game.
Montreal’s PP did score, matching the goal of the Flyers PP. The game-breaker was the shorthanded goal the Habs scored.
This game saw the Montreal fans beat Danny Briere, who was booed every time he touched the puck. He only had 3 shots on net with no points.
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The spotlight was on Biron in game #2, since he was the player who put on a spectacular show. He made 34 saves on 36 shots but it is hard to explain the significance and brilliance of the saves he made. I'm not sure if he carries horseshoes in his pocket, because some of the saves he made looked lucky, but showed great heart. If his great play continues beyond game #2, Montreal will have a hard time winning this series.
Again, the Flyers took an early 2-0 lead for the second straight game, hoping not to blow this one. Philadelphia noticed that Price was having a hard time on his glove side in game #1 and they made sure to attack it. R.J. Umberger and Jeff Carter, on the PP, rifled their shots over Price’s left shoulder showing the weakness on the Habs goalie. Koivu did manage to get one back for the Canadiens before the 1st period ended, also on the power-play. Could this be another blown lead?
Danny Briere finally brought silence to the Bell Centre fans by scoring a beauty at the 13:33 mark of the second, giving his team a 3-1 lead. Montreal applied some crazy pressure in the second period that showed Biron standing on his head. Tomas Plekanec was robbed by a glove save on an open breakaway and on a point blank range slap shot, showing the dominance of Biron in this game. These were only two of the 25 saves that Biron made by the end of the second period alone.
Down by two, the Canadiens knew they would need something special to pull this one off. Andrei Markov deflected a goal, 1:26 into the third, leading this game to great finish, as Montreal was down 3-2. The fans did not see the victory they wanted thanks to Biron’s grade “A” performance and Umberger’s second goal of the game at the 17:39 mark of the third.
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Philadelphia came out with a split in Montreal by playing excellent hockey. This series heads to Pennsylvania for games #3 and #4, where the Canadiens have to solve Biron.
Addressing the key factors in this series as stated in our Eastern Conference Semifinals preview:
Biron out-played Price, leading the Flyers to a win.
Both teams scoring one PP goal each, but Philadelphia’s PK was effective.
The fans won game #1, but Briere’s only shot on net was the game winner, giving him the last laugh.
Series tied 1-1.
By Kevin Chaves
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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