BOSTON // The sound echoed through the Bruins' arena. It was the banging of the Flyers' sticks against the boards to make sure the officials saw Boston's extra skater. Then, a whistle for a penalty for having too many men on the ice. That was followed shortly by a sight the Bruins did not like either.
A red light behind Tuukka Rask, the goalkeeper, signifying Simon Gagné's tiebreaking, power-play goal with 7mins 08secs left that capped yet another Philadelphia comeback and sent them into the Eastern Conference finals against the Montreal Canadiens.
The Flyers rebounded from a 3-0 first-period deficit for a 4-3 victory on Friday night, just as they had surged back from losses in the first three games to win the next four. "The Game 7s are tough. There's a lot of pressure," said Peter Laviolette, the Flyers coach. "It's a game that's made for men. And our guys proved to be men." The Bruins, who were up 3-0 in the best-of-seven series, seem to have lost their edge with such a big advantage.
"There was definitely some complacency, that is for sure," said Boston's Milan Lucic, who scored two goals in Game 7. "It's something that we are going to have to deal with for the whole summer." The seventh-seeded Flyers are home tonight against the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens for the opener of an unlikely conference finals with a berth in the Stanley Cup finals at stake. "If we believe in ourselves and keep going with this, who knows what can happen?" said Scott Hartnell, who scored Philadelphia's second goal.
Who would have expected the Flyers to advance after losing the first three games? Only two of the previous 161 NHL teams that fell that far behind won their series the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs who beat Detroit and the 1975 New York Islanders who eliminated Pittsburgh. "The bottom line is we had a 3-0 lead in the series, we had a 3-0 lead tonight, and we blew them both," said Claude Julien, the Boston coach.
"We have to take the responsibility that goes with it. Everyone." That includes Marc Savard, who raised his stick to the bench as if asking to come off the ice, and perhaps Vladimir Sobotka, who jumped onto the ice only to hustle back to the bench when Savard kept skating. "I saw it right away," said Mike Richards, the Flyers captain. Mark Recchi, the Bruins' wing, was upset: "It's a 3-3 series, Game 7, you don't make that call."
But that penalty had been called throughout the play-offs and, Julien said, "I'm not going to criticise the linesman." Even after that call, the game was still tied and would have stayed that way if the Bruins had killed the penalty. But 18 seconds before they were to be back at full strength, Gagné scored when he lifted a short shot from the left of Rask over the goalkeeper's right shoulder.