Newark, NJ (Sports Network) – Brian Boucher made 28 saves to record his second career playoff shutout and first in 10 years, and the Philadelphia Flyers closed out their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with a 3-0 Game 5 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.
Boucher was the goaltender for the Flyers as a rookie when the team blew a 3-1 lead in the 1999-2000 East finals to Martin Brodeur and these same Devils, but he helped make sure history wouldn’t repeat itself. Boucher was not Philadelphia’s first choice as the starting netminder in the playoffs, but injuries to Ray Emery and Michael Leighton forced the club’s hand, and he has helped the Flyers advance to the conference semis for the second time in three years.
Claude Giroux scored twice for Philadelphia, which, with the 4-1 series win, will face Washington, Pittsburgh, Ottawa or Boston in the next round. Giroux also added an assist, while Danny Briere had a goal and an assist in the win.
Mike Richards added two assists and finished with eight points in the series for the Flyers, who will look back at their penalty kill as one of the reasons why they advanced. Philadelphia, one of the most penalized teams in the NHL, was able to kill off 28-of-32 penalties faced, including 8-of-8 in the decisive Game 5.
Brodeur, the NHL’s all-time leader in wins by a goaltender, made 18 saves for the Devils, who failed to get out of the first round for the third straight year despite winning the Atlantic Division in each of the last two seasons.
New Jersey’s season again ends in disappointment despite making a big splash at the trade deadline to acquire star winger Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk, who will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, tallied two goals and four assists in the series.
Both teams took a penalty in the opening two minutes, and the Flyers capitalized on their brief power play 3:16 into the contest. Giroux took a pass from Richards in the left circle and sent a backhand pass to Briere, who flipped it into the net from in close before Brodeur could get into position.
Philadelphia almost made it 2-0 midway through the frame, but Brodeur snared James van Riemsdyk’s backhander before it crossed the goal line.
The Devils then had a couple chances, but Boucher stopped David Clarkson point-blank while on the penalty kill, and Travis Zajac’s chip-in attempt was swatted away by Briere just before it went into the net.
Giroux gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead 11:48 into the second, winding up for a slap shot as a loose puck drifted toward him in the slot. He sent a laser into the top left corner of the net, giving Brodeur no chance.
Just two minutes later, Giroux recorded a power-play tally. Briere’s shot from the point was stopped by Boucher, but Scott Hartnell corralled the rebound and sent it across the crease to Giroux, who flipped it into the open net.
Boucher made nine saves in the second period and 10 more in the third, helping the Flyers kill off three penalties in the final 20 minutes to record the shutout and series win.
Kovalchuk is now 1-8 lifetime in playoff games…Philadelphia is now 8-7 in Game 5s when leading a series, 3-1…The Flyers won despite playing without forwards Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne, both of whom sustained foot injuries in Game 4. Carter is out indefinitely, while Gagne will miss the next three weeks. Ville Leino and David Laliberte filled in for the pair…Philadelphia has won three of the five playoff series played with the New Jersey franchise…The Flyers went 2-for-6 on the power play Thursday and 8-for-29 in the series…Philadelphia won nine of 11 games overall against the Devils this season…Boucher’s last playoff shutout was April 16, 2000 versus Buffalo.