for this game

Briere's goal gives Flyers commanding series lead

May 1, 2008 - 4:57 AM
PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Daniel Briere and Martin Biron quickly are becoming Philadelphia's favorite sons.

Briere snapped a tie with 3:38 remaining in the third period and Biron again stood tall in goal as the sixth-seeded Philadelphia Flyers skated to a 4-2 victory over the top-seeded Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday in Game Four of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

R.J. Umberger netted a pair of goals and Scott Hartnell also tallied for Philadelphia, which claimed a commanding three-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven series.

"It was like that in the first round against Washington, and now it's like that again," Biron said. "We're in the position we were in before, and I think we learned a lot from that first series (which lasted seven games). We have to get our game going in the right direction the next game."

Briere also set up a tally and Vaclav Prospal registered two assists for the Flyers, who can advance to the conference finals with a win in Montreal on Saturday.

"I think we need to go in there with the mind-set that it's Game Seven," Briere said. "Just like the way we played in Game Seven in Washington. We know what happened in the first round and we let (the Capitals) get back in it. This is far from over, and we need to realize it."

"We won't underestimate how difficult it will be to get the next game," Philadelphia's Mike Knuble said. "We don't want to extend it any more. That crowd and that franchise is very proud, and it's going to be a very tough place to play."

Tomas Plekanec and captain Saku Koivu scored and Jaroslav Halak - who started in place of Carey Price - turned aside 22 shots for the Canadiens, who went 0-for-4 on the power play.

"I was surprised," Halak said of getting his first career postseason start. "I was told this morning. I wasn't thinking that it was the playoffs. I was thinking that it was a normal game."

"I have to give him credit. He was good," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. "Obviously not good enough, but he was in a tough situation. He made some great saves early."

With two of the final three games at the Bell Centre, Carbonneau believes the Canadiens can overcome the deficit.

"I am still really confident we can win this series," he said. "We have two days to recharge. After that, it's three games in four nights, and I like our chances."

For the ninth time in 11 playoff games - and fourth in four in this series - Philadelphia grabbed a two-goal lead Wednesday. The Flyers, however, lost three of those contests and appeared on their way to another disappointment as the Canadiens scored goals 37 seconds apart midway through the third to forge a 2-2 tie.

But Briere, who entered one goal behind Detroit's Johan Franzen for the league lead this postseason, helped stall Montreal's momentum by cashing in during a power play late in the third.

With Steve Begin in the penalty box for interference, Knuble unleashed a shot from the left faceoff circle that hit a crowd in front of the net. The puck dribbled to the left of the crease, where Briere shoveled it past Halak for his eighth goal of the playoffs and a 3-2 lead.

"I'm not going to lie. It was a very good feeling," said Briere, who also leads the league in playoff scoring with 14 points. "After being on the ice for those two goals that let them back in the game, it definitely felt good. ... When they scored those two goals, all we were thinking about was that we had to get it back."

It was the second power-play goal of the night for Philadelphia, which has scored with the man advantage in all but two of its 11 playoff games.

"They looked like they were determined," Flyers coach John Stevens said of his power-play unit prior on Briere's goal. "They just had that confidence that something good was going to happen. That's easy to say because we scored, but really, Danny and Vinnie (Prospal), they all were ready to go. They were on the same page."

As expected, the Canadiens did not agree with the penalty against Begin, who was called for interfering with Sami Kapanen in the neutral zone.

"I don't want to get fined," Carbonneau said when asked about the infraction. "Did you watch it? You watch the whole game and you tell me after what you think."

"It was 50-50," Montreal's Bryan Smolinski said. "I was right in front of the play. (Begin) is a physical guy and he wanted to finish his check. He got caught on the short end of that. I can't say that it was a great call, but I think that (Begin) did his job right."

Umberger completed his second two-goal performance in three games and sealed the victory with an empty-netter in the game's final seconds. The native of Pittsburgh, who turns 26 on Saturday, has seven goals this postseason - including six in this series.

"I guess I've been kind of a rover and I just try to make the most of my opportunities," Umberger said. "I just want to be on the ice. I enjoy playing this game."

Biron, who has allowed just six goals on 108 shots over the last three contests, kept the Canadiens off the scoreboard with a brilliant effort in the first period, when the Flyers were outshot by a 14-7 margin.

"Ever since the playoffs started, he's taken it to another level," Knuble said. "It's been an absolute treat to watch. I don't know if it's the new baby or what, but he has been extremely hot."

"Biron is on the top of his game right now," Carbonneau said. "Whether he's lucky or good or extremely good, he's making the saves."

Less than a minute after Philadelphia's Jeff Carter was stopped by Halak on a shorthanded breakaway chance just six minutes into the game, Biron made a superb save on a redirection in front by Plekanec. With 98 seconds to go in the first, the netminder made another huge stop on Tom Kostopoulos from alone on the doorstep.

"Marty deserves a lot of credit," Stevens said. "He's set a standard of play for himself that he's been able to consistently achieve. I think until you have success this time of year, you really don't know what your standard is. He has never had a reference point, and now he has a reference point that he can play at a very high level and be the difference in the hockey game, and he was again tonight."

The Flyers also successfully killed a pair of power plays in the first with the help of Biron.

"Our goaltending and our penalty kill has been our saving grace," Umberger said. "They have such a great power play and they're able to tic-tac-toe the puck around. They still got some goals, but we aren't letting them overtake us."

With every save Biron made, he was serenaded with chants of "Marty! Marty!" by the 19,872 fans at the Wachovia Center.

"It's awesome," Biron said. "You feel like you have 20,000 people behind you. It's a great feeling. Throughout the whole game, when the game is tight or when the game can go one way or the other, it's great to have the fans behind you."

Umberger gave Biron some support with a man-advantage goal at 7:47 of the second. Briere led a 3-on-2 rush down the right wing and made a cross-slot pass to Umberger, who beat Halak to the short side from the left circle to extend his goal-scoring streak to four games.

"I wasn't surprised by the shot," Halak said. "I was fibbing a little bit and it got me on the short side. It shouldn't have happened, especially in the playoffs."

"R.J. has been terrific and deserves a lot of credit," Stevens said. "He's a man without a home, really. I move him all over the place, and I do it for the good of the team. That's what makes him so valuable."

The tally came just 14 seconds after Biron made a sensational right pad save on Begin's shot from the slot.

Hartnell ended a seven-game drought by doubling Philadelphia's lead at 6:47 of the third.

Prospal intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and carried the puck up ice before unleashing a shot that hit the right goalpost. The puck came right to Hartnell, who buried it from the right circle for his second tally of the postseason.

Just when the sellout crowd thought it could breathe easy, the Canadiens had it gasping for air.

Blue-liner Josh Gorges wristed a shot from above the right circle that appeared to carom off the leg of Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher and past Biron with 7:01 left in the period. The goal, however, was credited to Plekanec, as it was believed he got a piece of the puck before it got by the goalie.

"We need to get guys in front of the net and look for rebounds and make it hard on (Biron)," Gorges said. "He's making the first saves. We have to find a way to get second and third chances."

Before the fans' hearts could get back to a normal beat, Koivu knotted the contest with his third of the postseason.

Defenseman Mark Streit's one-timer from the blue line hit a body in the low slot, and the puck bounced to the right side. All alone, Koivu gathered it and deposited it into a vacant net with 6:24 remaining.

"We've been able to pierce them in the third period," Carbonneau said of his team, which tallied twice in the third period of Game Three to get within 3-2. "We need to find a way to do it in the first and second and get our confidence back."

"I thought that we played a good game, especially in the third period," Biron said. "We didn't give them much. They got a couple of bounces that were favorable for them. We battled hard right after them and we were able to draw a big penalty."








  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MONTREAL 0 0 2 2
    PHILADELPHIA 0 1 3 4 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: PHI - (PP) R.J. UMBERGER 6 (DANIEL BRIERE) 7:47
    3RD PRD: PHI - SCOTT HARTNELL 2 (VACLAV PROSPAL) 6:47
    MON - TOMAS PLEKANEC 3 (JOSH GORGES, FRANCIS BOUILLON) 12:59
    MON - SAKU KOIVU 3 (MARK STRE

    Apr 30 9:37 PM
  • bones i think they'll hold onto this 2 goal lead

    Canadiens 2, Flyers 3  3rd - 0:38Apr 30 9:36 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL MONTREAL 2
    PHILADELPHIA 4
    3RD PRD: PHI - (EN) R.J. UMBERGER 7 (JEFF CARTER) 19:58

    Canadiens 2, Flyers 4  3rd - 0:02Apr 30 9:36 PM
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    Canadiens 2, Flyers 3  3rd - 0:38Apr 30 9:33 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL MONTREAL 2
    PHILADELPHIA 3
    3RD PRD: PHI - (PP) DANIEL BRIERE 8 (MIKE KNUBLE, VACLAV PROSPAL)
    16:22

    Canadiens 2, Flyers 3  3rd - 3:38Apr 30 9:28 PM
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    Canadiens 2, Flyers 3  3rd - 3:38Apr 30 9:28 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL MONTREAL 2
    PHILADELPHIA 2
    3RD PRD: MON - SAKU KOIVU 3 (MARK STREIT, FRANCIS BOUILLON) 13:36

    Canadiens 2, Flyers 2  3rd - 6:24Apr 30 9:23 PM
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    Canadiens 2, Flyers 2  3rd - 4:20Apr 30 9:23 PM
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    Canadiens 2, Flyers 2  3rd - 6:24Apr 30 9:23 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL MONTREAL 1
    PHILADELPHIA 2
    3RD PRD: MON - TOMAS PLEKANEC 3 (JOSH GORGES, FRANCIS BOUILLON) 12:59

    Canadiens 1, Flyers 2  3rd - 7:01Apr 30 9:22 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL MONTREAL 0
    PHILADELPHIA 2
    3RD PRD: PHI - SCOTT HARTNELL 2 (VACLAV PROSPAL) 6:47

    Canadiens 0, Flyers 2  3rd - 13:13Apr 30 9:07 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MONTREAL 0 0 0
    PHILADELPHIA 0 1 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: PHI - (PP) R.J. UMBERGER 6 (DANIEL BRIERE) 7:47
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MON 14 14 28
    PHI 7 10 17
    GOALIES: MON -

    Apr 30 8:38 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL MONTREAL 0
    PHILADELPHIA 1
    2ND PRD: PHI - (PP) R.J. UMBERGER 6 (DANIEL BRIERE) 11:47

    Canadiens 0, Flyers 1  2nd - 8:13Apr 30 8:18 PM
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  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MONTREAL 0 0
    PHILADELPHIA 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MON 14 14
    PHI 7 7
    GOALIES: MON - JAROSLAV HALAK
    PHI - MARTIN BIRON

    Apr 30 7:45 PM
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