I've mentioned several times during the playoffs that the Flyers have been playing incredibly unpredictably. As soon as you think Philadelphia is going to close out a game, the team blows it. When the odds are against them, the Flyers set themselves up to win again...
...but then that's what makes sports great.
Tonight of course was no different. The Flyers were playing top seed Montreal, the game was the Flyers' third game in four days, and the game was in Montreal.
But it didn't appear to matter.
The Flyers stayed back all game and started their rushes from their own zone. They neutralized the Canadiens' rush and speed throughout the Habs' top three lines. Montreal won the face-off battle by a notable 41-27. This should have stalled the Flyers offense.
But it didn't.
The Flyers out-shot Montreal and drew more legitimate power plays (see below for details). The Flyers got goals from two unlikely sources: R.J. Umberger and Jim Dowd in the first period.
But the lead didn't last.
Montreal came storming back in the second period. The Habs controlled the pace, out-shooting the Flyers 13-9 and out-scoring them 2-0. Andrei Kostitsyn scored his fourth playoff goal and with less than four minutes left in period, Alexei Kovalev scored short-handed.
But the Flyers came back.
The third period belonged to the Flyers. A shot advantage of 13-9 led to the Flyers controlling most of the period. Joffrey Lupul scored just 19 seconds into the period on a power play that carried over from the end of the second period.
But it didn't matter.
A penalty on Mike Richards with just over a minute left gave Montreal a six on four when the Habs pulled their goalie. Fast forward to 29 seconds left and the puck is in the net thanks to Alexei Kovalev. The Habs had all the momentum going into the overtime period.
And this mattered.
First shift in overtime, Tom Kostopoulos scored for Montreal and it was over. Two goals in the last 1:17 meant Montreal escapes with a 1-0 series lead.
The Flyers did several things very well. Philadelphia limited the amount of penalties they took big time. Dumb penalty after dumb penalty against Washington allowed the Caps to stay in several games they should have been out of early.
That just wasn't the case tonight. The Canadiens' only power play for the majority of the game came early in the second period.
The Flyers also managed to stay in this game without any contributions from Philly's top players. Daniel Briere (in his return home to Quebec), Scott Hartnell, and Vinny Prospal didn't notch a single point.
The Flyers had this game stolen from them. I didn't get to watch and was only able to listen to the radio coverage. I did get to see the highlights which showed the wrong calls.
The second Montreal goal cannot be a goal in any way. There's no justifying it. How could Kovalev have scored? His stick came down on the top of the goal after he hit the puck. That is a TEXTBOOK high stick. I don't understand how that can possibly be anything different. You clearly see his stick come down after he hits the puck, it's not like it went upwards after he hit the puck and then down onto the goal. That shouldn't have been a goal.
The Mike Richards penalty that gave Montreal a power play with under a minute left was not a penalty. It was ruled kneeing. His knee never makes contact with the Canadiens' player. That was a clean hit. Philadelphia has legitimate gripes in this game.