Flyers Play of the Game: Richie's Alley Oop to Briere

Flyers Play of the Game: Richie's Alley Oop to Briere

The outcome of last night's Flyers-Sabres game still burns on the morning after. Coming all the way back from an early 3-0 deficit, then losing in OT, it was playoff hockey at its roller-coaster finest. Unfortunately, this one ended in a valley instead of on a high.

The Flyers' third goal was the height of the night for Philly fans, not only because it capped the comeback, but also because it came as a result of some great work by three different forwards. Kris Versteeg came in hot to snare the puck beneath the goal line, and  Mike Richards took over from there. Despite the obstacle of the net  being between him and his intended target, a perfectly perched Danny  Briere on the doorstep, Richie found a way to get the puck there. Video below.

It started with the kind of play the Flyers went out and got Versteeg for. We were left wanting more from Versteeg in the regular season, but hoped his playoff experience would pay off. While there's still a desire to see him be the best player on the ice for a game, playoff games are often won because of plays like the one Versteeg made in the goal above. This one went to OT because of it, and yeah we all know what happened there.

Richards' contribution to it was a bit more glamorous and really what made it go from a simple possession behind the net to an equalizing goal. In one fluid motion, he swung his orientation 45º and lifted the puck without so much as settling it first. The pass went over the back of the net to Briere, who was straddling the goal line on the opposite side. Briere knocked it down to himself, then shoveled it home as Ryan Miller tried to catch up to a pass he couldn't have been expecting to meet its target. I guess if you want to catch Miller out of position, it's going to take something fairly unexpected.

Are we spending a bit too much time focusing on a highlight that didn't ultimately decide the game and not much time at all on the plays that did? Probably. But we have plenty of time to stew over the loss and the now do-or-die scenario the Flyers find themselves in. We're starting the Saturday hangover programming with some appreciation for one of the things that went well last night before moving on to some of the questions that will need to be answered before Sunday's tilt. Probably.

BONUS: Depending on when you're reading this, click here for some sounds from the new Beastie Boys album on the court at Madison Square Garden. Man I want that new TDK boombox.

Thanks to Mr Flyer Guy for the clip.

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Chris Kunitz beat Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 28 shots on his 23rd birthday.

The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 to win back-to-back titles. They will host Western Conference champion Nashville in Game 1 on Monday night.

Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa. The Senators rallied twice to tie it, with Dzingel making it 2-2 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Craig Anderson made 39 saves, but couldn't get a handle on Kunitz's shot from just outside the left circle. The Senators are 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history.

The Senators forced a return trip to Pittsburgh -- where they lost 7-0 loss in Game 5 on Sunday -- by leaning heavily on Anderson in a 2-1 Game 6 victory, putting both teams at odds with history.

Ottawa came in 0-for-25 years in winner-take-all games, while the Penguins were 0-7 in Game 7s at home in series in which they also dropped Game 6.

Ottawa coach Guy Boucher told his resilient team to not get caught up in the big picture but instead focus on the small ones, a recipe that carried the Senators throughout a bumpy transition under their first-year head coach to the brink of the franchise's second Cup appearance.

The Penguins, trying to become the first defending champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009, came in confident they would advance if they could replicate their dominant Game 6, when they were undone only by Anderson's brilliance.

Pittsburgh has been nearly unflappable in the face of adversity under Mike Sullivan, going 12-2 in playoff games following a loss over the last two springs. He encouraged his team to "just play," code for fighting through Ottawa's neutral zone-clogging style and the bumping, grabbing and pulling that comes along with it.

A chance to play for their sport's ultimate prize on the line, the sheets of open ice the Penguins found so easily in Games 4-6 closed up. For most of the first 30 minutes, loose pucks hopped over sticks to spoil some scoring opportunities while Anderson and Murray gobbled up the rest.

Kunitz, relegated to the fourth line since returning from injury in the second round, picked up his first postseason goal in a calendar year when he completed a two-on-one with Conor Sheary -- a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 -- by slipping the puck by Anderson 9:55 into the second period.

The momentum lasted all of 20 seconds. Ottawa responded immediately with Stone -- who stretched his left skate to stay onside -- fired a wrist shot that handcuffed Murray.

Pittsburgh kept coming. Schultz, returning after missing four games with an upper-body injury, zipped a shot from the point through Kunitz's screen and into the net with 8:16 left in the third.

Once again, the Penguins could not hold the lead. Dzingel set up at the right post and banged home a rebound off Erik Karlsson's shot that hit the left post and caromed off Murray's back right to Dzingel's stick.

Notes
The home team is 21-20 in overtime Game 7s in NHL playoff history. ... Pittsburgh F Patric Hornqvist skated during warmups, but was held out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Karlsson had 16 assists in the playoffs to set a team record. ... The Penguins are 10-7 in Game 7s. ... It was the fifth one-goal game of the series.

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick experienced a painful rehab start on Thursday night.

Rehabbing with Triple A Lehigh Valley, Kendrick was hit by a pitch twice before being removed after the sixth inning of the IronPigs' 8-4 loss to Indianapolis at Coca-Cola Park.

Both times Kendrick was plunked in the upper left arm, according to Tom Housenick of the Morning Call.

There was no update on if Kendrick was injured or taken out for precautionary reasons. Thursday marked Kendrick's second rehab start as he recovers from an oblique strain that has sidelined him since April 15.

The Phillies' leftfielder started at third base Thursday. At the beginning of his rehab assignment, Kendrick was expected to play four games and see time at third and first base, as well as in left field.

Kendrick made a throwing error at third on Thursday and finished 0 for 1 with a run scored. In his two games, he's 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs in 10 games with the Phillies prior to landing on the DL.

When he returns, he could see time at third base instead of left field if Maikel Franco continues to struggle (see story).