Given a second chance to knock out the New Jersey Devils 10 years after squandering their first opportunity, Flyers goalie Brian Boucher was brilliant on Thursday night as Philadelphia won 3-0 in Game 5 to finish off the series Thursday night.
Claude Giroux scored twice in the second period after Danny Briere had given the Flyers a 1-0 lead in the first. Boucher made the offense stand up as Philadelphia beat New Jersey for the ninth time in 11 meetings this season.
Back in the 2000 Eastern Conference finals, Boucher and the Flyers let a 3-1 series lead slip away to the Devils, who went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Boucher finished with 27 saves this time in his second career NHL playoff shutout.
In his second stint with Philadelphia, Boucher has risen from third on the depth chart to the top of the heap. The Flyers will have to wait to find out who they will play in the second round. The most likely opponent for the No. 7 seed is Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington, which leads 3-1 against Montreal.
Philadelphia did its damage despite a relatively low shot total on Martin Brodeur. Giroux, who also assisted on Briere's second of the series, scored his two goals in the second when the Flyers recorded only four shots. They were outshot 18-14 through 40 minutes, yet led 3-0.
The Devils face a disappointing end to a season that showed promise. New Jersey won the Atlantic Division title for the ninth time, reached 100 points for the 12th time in 15 seasons and qualified for the playoffs for the 13th straight season.
But they are left with a third straight first-round ouster, despite earning the No. 2 seed in the East and finishing 15 points ahead of the Flyers. Philadelphia didn't gain its postseason spot until a shootout victory over the New York Rangers on the final day of the regular season.
The Devils were booed in the second and third periods and heard chants of "Let's Go Flyers" echo through their building.
Philadelphia won the series opener in New Jersey before dropping Game 2 on the road. The Flyers took control on home ice when Daniel Carcillo scored the winning goal in overtime, and then put the Devils on the brink of elimination with a 4-1 victory in Game 4 on Tuesday.
The Devils haven't made it out of the first round since moving from the Meadowlands to the new Prudential Center in 2007. They are 3-7 in postseason home games following the team's relocation to Newark.
Boucher kept the Flyers in the game as he protected a 1-0 lead with a series of spectacular saves against the hard-charging Devils in the first period.
Ilya Kovalchuk, who confidently predicted a Devils victory, tested Boucher in the opening minute with a hard drive that bounced into the slot off the goalie's pad. Zach Parise whiffed as he attempted a shot off the rebound.
The goalie heard the first chants of "Boosh" from the partisan Flyers fans, who made the short trip up the New Jersey Turnpike, just after the 10-minute mark following a stop against Paul Martin. Late in the period, Boucher turned aside a dangerous one-timer by David Clarkson and then denied Parise on a partial shorthanded breakaway.
While the Devils failed to capitalize on numerous power plays — some they cut short by taking their own penalties — the Flyers made the most of theirs, going 2-for-6 with the advantage.
Giroux made it 2-0 with 8:12 remaining in the second with a drive that bounced in and out of the net in a flash. The goal was confirmed by video replay. He added his second of the night and fourth of the series 1:59 later during a power play off a pass in front by Scott Hartnell.
New Jersey produced three goals during the two games at Philadelphia, all on the power play, but went 0-for-8 in Game 5. The Devils didn't record an even-strength goal in the final three contests.
On the opening shift, the Devils displayed the desperation goalie Brodeur said would be necessary to survive. It paid off immediately with a power play, but the advantage lasted only 46 seconds before it was wiped out by captain Jamie Langenbrunner's tripping penalty.
Giroux made a spinning pass from Brodeur's right in front to Briere, who was unchecked at the top of the crease and muscled a shot between the goalie's left pad and the post at 3:16.
The Flyers showed no ill effects of the injuries to top forwards Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne, who both broke their right foot in Game 4.
The Flyers are 18-2 in series they have led 3-1. … Flyers RW Ian Laperriere left the ice with 16:04 left after he was struck in the face and bloodied by Devils D Paul Martin's shot. … LW Ville Leino and RW David Laliberte played in the series for the first time for the Flyers in place of Carter and Gagne. Carter is expected to miss the rest of the season. Gagne might return in three weeks. … Four Devils, including Brodeur, remain from the 2000 Devils team. … The Flyers scored eight of their 15 goals in the series in the second period.
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