Daniel Briere scored two goals and added an assist as the Philadelphia Flyers held off the Washington Capitals in their Eastern Conference quarter-final on Tuesday night.
Scott Hartnell, Sami Kapanen and Mike Richards, with a late penalty shot, also scored in the 6-3 home win. Vaclav Prospal was a force offensively with three assists.
Eric Fehr, left, of the Washington Capitals takes a shot from Kimmo Timonen of the Philadelphia Flyers during Game 3 action.
(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Mike Knuble added an empty-net goal in the waning moments.
Martin Biron, coming off a shutout in Game 2 and the birth of his third child Monday, made 16 saves.
At game's end, Briere held the early league lead in playoff goals, with four.
"The playoffs are extra special," Briere said. "I'm not going to lie about it, there's a little extra there."
Eric Fehr, Mike Green and Shaone Morrisonn scored for the Capitals. Morrisonn's goal with 4:34 left in the third made the score 4-3, but Richards deked Washington goalie Cristobal Huet and slid a backhander between his pads with just under three minutes left.
NHL regular season leading scorer Alexander Ovechkin was held without a goal for the second straight game.
"I just think they're zoning in on our top line," said Green. "I mean every time those guys touch the puck, they're getting hit. Not only that but we've got to find it within us to battle through that."
The teams return to Wachovia Center in Philadelphia for Game 4 on Thursday.
The two clubs had several good chances to score over the first 15 minutes, with the opening goal by Briere at 16:10 triggering a four-goal outburst before the intermission.
Prospal found Briere skating down the right wing on a 3-on-2, and the speedy forward beat Huet to the glove side to the delight of the crowd. The Flyers missed the playoffs last season.
"That was a great thrill, the way the crowd was early on, and it certainly played a big role," Briere said.
Washington replied just over one minute later. Fehr, in his first NHL playoff game, fought off a check in front of the net to take Donald Brashear's pass and fire it past Biron.
Prospal and Briere again demonstrated their passing abilities for the first of two Flyer goals in 17 seconds, setting up Hartnell for a one-timer slapshot.
Veteran Kapanen then scored his 12th career playoff goal. The play was set up by a bad giveaway by Washington defenceman Milan Jurcina.
The clubs began taking a series of penalties in the second, and Washington was the first to capitalize. Green scored with a slapshot from the point, his third of the series, after the Capitals moved the puck around the perimeter.
Knuble had a chance to restore the two-goal lead, but the puck was cleared from the empty crease before he could pounce.
Flyers play physical game
The Flyers consistently played the body on the Capitals and also drove hard to the net, sometimes interfering with Huet. Kimmo Timonen of Philadelphia was made to pay for that approach with a hard hit from Brooks Laich after he was foiled by the Washington netminder.
Timonen did not return to the game.
After missing on their first five power-play chances, Philadelphia struck with just 10 seconds left in the middle period. Richards faked a slapshot from the point to get the Capitals moving in the wrong direction and then passed to Briere for the easy conversion.
The Washington bench was undoubtedly worried when R.J. Umberger stuck his leg out to trip Ovechkin. The Russian shook it off to eventually rejoin his team's power-play unit, but Biron prevented Green from getting a second goal.
The Capitals applied their best pressure of the game late, and Morrisonn's shot from the point eluded Biron, with Washington forward Laich in front distracting the goalie.
Philadelphia also held a 4-2 lead heading into the third in the series opener, but unlike that game, this time held on for the win.
Defenceman Mike Green swept Richards off his skates on a breakaway, leading to the penalty shot. Knuble put his fourth career playoff goal into an empty net.
"We put a good show on for them tonight," said Prospal. "They showed us the emotion and the energy and we fed off that."
Derian Hatcher was back on the ice for the Flyers after missing 12 games with a fractured right tibia. Patrick Thoresen, meanwhile, returned after taking a slapshot to the groin in Game 1.
Fehr, from Winkler, Man., was in at the expense of Tomas Fleischmann.
While the series has been wide open at times, both clubs have struggled on the power play. Philadelphia is 2 for 15, with Washington scoring just twice in 16 chances.
"I think we just have to be a little bit more competitive," said Laich. "I don't think they have a size advantage or an aggression advantage, I think it's just we have to be a little bit more competitive on pucks.
"We have to make sure we go into a corner or into a battle, that we don't be denied, that we come out with the puck.
The Capitals had won both regular season games at Wachovia Center. They will have to duplicate the feat on Thursday or head back home down two games in the series.