When was the last time we had more power plays than penalty kills? That's because we worked hard and our work is what drew those penalties. You play like that and most nights you're going to win.
>> John Stevens
That seems to be the consensus tonight from the Philadelphia Flyers. Every single member of the organization who was made available to the media tonight said that the Flyers played an excellent game, but that they just couldn't put the puck in the net.
And thanks to Marc-Andre Fleury, tonight was the most frustrating hockey game I've ever seen live. As soon as the puck hit the ice to start Game 5, the orange and black took control. They got pucks on Fleury. They hit posts. They got traffic in front. They did everything they possibly could've done offensively except actually get the rubber behind the Pittsburgh goaltender. And unfortunately, that's the only stat that counts in the end.
It was good old-fashioned highway robbery by Fleury tonight. He put on a goaltending showcase, making easy saves, sprawling saves, and even lucky saves. He was especially good (better than usual) on the east-to-west plays, reading several Flyer cross-ice passes like a book. He pounced on every rebound and the Flyers simply couldn't get the dirty goals.
Sure, some blame needs to go around to the Flyers. They relaxed a little bit in the second period and that's unacceptable this time of year, but it wasn't the difference in the game. Fleury was.
The orange and black did get to him in the third period. Dan Carcillo, of all people, picked up one of the few rebounds that Fleury allowed out of his reach and ripped a shot top-shelf that no goalie would've stopped. With about eight minutes left in the third period and the home team down now by just a goal, a previously frustrated and lifeless Wachovia Center came alive.
Each and every one of the 19,883 fans in attendance stood in a frenzy. A TV timeout followed Carcillo's goal, and for the entire two minute break, the arenavision camera was focused on him. From the bench, Carcillo urged the crowd on by raising his hands in the air. The crowd obliged.
From that point on, the usual custom of playing music between whistles was canceled. The soundboard guy probably figured it would be drowned out anyway. The Flyers had new life and everybody in attendance could just feel the tying goal coming any second.
But it wouldn't happen. Fleury stood on his head over-and-over again in the waning minutes, just as he did all game. It just wasn't meant to be. In the playoffs, sometimes games like this happen. Fleury just stole a game for Pittsburgh and that could be the difference in the series. At the same time, though, can you expect him to do it again? The Flyers will learn from their mistakes as this series heads back to Pittsburgh for Game 5.
Is this heartbreaking? Yes. Is this a deep, deep hole? Yes. Has a team overcome this before? Yes. It's a tough point in the season to have a game fall this way, but there are positives to take from the contest.
As Lou Nolan said over the public address as the silent masses exited the building tonight, "Game 6 tickets on sale now. Drive home safely, and keep the faith."