As a continuation of PSN’s playoff series, we now move onto some notable game sevens in playoff history. This time, we’re going to take you back to about a decade ago. Game seven of the 2008 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Capitals sprung the Flyers to a conference finals appearance against the Penguins.
April 22, 2008- Philadelphia Flyers Host Washington Capitals
Prior to the division realignment, the Caps found themselves atop the Southeast division, as the Flyers finished second in the Atlantic. This being said, the now division rivals found themselves battling in the first round. The teams split the season series with two wins apiece, setting the stage for what was going to be an even matchup.
Despite the Capitals taking game one, the Flyers stole one at the nation’s capital and then won two consecutive on home ice. Washington would follow up with back-to-back wins of their own, bringing the teams to a pivotal game seven.
This game started far from optimal for the Flyers. Scott Hartnell found himself in the sin bin for interfering with Steve Eminger. About a minute later, Derian Hatcher got called for roughing, putting the Flyers down two men less than five minutes into the game.
As the seconds ticked away on the first penalty, the Capitals, capitalized (no pun intended). After the 2008 flowy-haired Alex Ovechkin appeared to purposely fire one wide in a set play, Nicklas Backstrom tucked in the rebound for his fourth goal of the series. Goaltender Martin Biron would close the door for the remainder of the second penalty, as well as the period.
The Capitals ended up taking the next, and last three, penalties of the opening period. This would give the Flyers a two-man advantage of their own in the latter half of the period, opening the door for them to grab momentum late.
And grab the momentum they did:
Philadelphia controlled the majority of the period, outshooting the Caps 13-8 in the first period. Biron was playing one of his better games of the series, and the Flyers grabbed the energy heading into the next period.
The middle period started off in the Capitals’ favor early. They began to pepper Biron with shots after Steve Downey hooked Steve Eminger 90 seconds into the period. As the period entered the middle portion, the Flyers finally found their footing again.
The orange and black would catch a break to regain momentum. After Martin Biron sprung Patrick Thoresen with a break out pass, Thoresen burst into the Capitals’ zone and found Kapanen with a step. The Caps’ defender would prevent a quality first shot on net, but Thoresen’s momentum carried him into a Caps’ defender that took Huet out of the crease. Kapanen would find his own rebound and get one into the empty net.
It would only take five minutes for a young Alex Ovechkin to flash his potential, though. After a 65 goal regular season, Ovi continued his scoring dominance into the first round of the playoffs. The Flyers would give the Caps another powerplay after Steve Downey picked up yet another penalty. On the ensuing man advantage, Ovi would snipe one past Biron in his sweet spot as the penalty expired.
After two, these teams found themselves tied at two heading into what could’ve been their last period of the season.
The third period was one word:
Aside from a few big hits, neither goalie made any significant saves. Both teams failed to generate much offense, and you could tell by watching that they began to play for overtime at one point.
However, both teams were hitting big. There may not have been any, as the analytics crowd would say, “high danger” chances, but there were certainly some high danger hits. Both teams seemed to be capitalizing on power plays though, and there wasn’t even a penalty in the final frame.
So, onto overtime we go…
Scottie Upshall would start the overtime period with a ton of energy. In the first minute, there were two great chances early, both coming from Upshall driving to the net.
Upshall and the Flyers would come up short early though, leaving the door open for Washington. Alex Ovechkin had two solid chances himself, both coming straight off the faceoff. The Caps began to control play, dwindling Flyers’ fans hopes for a playoff run. However, leave it to RJ Umberger to spark something for Philly.
Umberger drew a penalty at center ice, giving the Flyers a powerplay five minutes into the extra period. Kimmo Timonen picked up the loose puck and blasted one on the net, where Joffrey Lupul was waiting. The rest is history:
What Happened Next:
As Flyers’ fans, we all know that Philly likes to make things as heart-wrenching as possible. Despite taking a 3-1 series lead following this win, the Flyers couldn’t put the Caps away easily. Washington would take games five and six to tie the series up at three and force a game seven. It took an additional overtime period as shown above, but the Flyers snuck by the Southeast Division winners.
The Flyers would move onto face the Montreal Canadiens in the conference semi-finals. This series would prove to be a much easier opponent for Philly, as they would nearly sweep the Habs. Montreal would win game one, but the Flyers found themselves winners of the next four.
Despite this crazy momentum, the Flyers would run into yet another near-dynasty in the 2008 Penguins. The Penguins nearly swept Philly, but the Flyers were able to sneak out a game four win. Inevitably though, the Pens would defeat the Flyers in game five, leading to their Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
Mandatory Credit – © James Lang-USA TODAY Sports