VOORHEES, NJ -- He had to vent. When time expired and there was nothing else that could be done, Claude Giroux skated toward the net and took a big chop at the goal with his stick which then cracked and splintered all over the CONSOL Energy Center ice, much like the Flyers chances of closing out the series in Pittsburgh.
It was good to let it out a little bit, let the frustration out, Giroux said. After five minutes later I was back and focused and everyone put that game behind us. I think its important that we put that game behind us."
Its hard to blame Giroux or any of the Flyers for being frustrated with the way Game 5 went down. The Penguins won the contest and kept the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals alive by doing something that hasn't been easy during the frenzied series they kept the Flyers from finding the back of the net. That had everything to do with Marc-Andre Fleury, of course. The Penguins goaltender, previously lost on the ice, has suddenly remembered where he stashed his ability for safekeeping before the playoffs began. He allowed just two goals in Game 5 on 26 shots.
Quality chance-wise, we probably generated as many as we did on any given night so far, Peter Laviolette said. Not in Game 4, but the first three games. We couldnt get it in the back of the net as often. We had opportunities. We had good looks at it.
There is coach speak and then there is the truth. That particular quote was the latter. The Flyers had opportunities. The Flyers had good looks. The Flyers couldnt find the back of the net. That they didnt tie the game in the third period, or even figure out a way to stage another improbable comeback, remains not only frustrating but hard to fathom for the Flyers.
That was our best hockey in the last two games, Giroux said. We kind of went back to what we were doing before skating hard and winning battles and working as a team.
The more you think about it, the more difficult it is to believe that the Flyers didnt score as the game ebbed. They had 12 chances in the third period seven of which came on one fast-paced power play for the Flyers -- all of which were thwarted.
Among the third period opportunities, there was a slap shot by Jaromir Jagr. That was denied. There was an up-close attempt by Scott Hartnell, which included the hirsute Flyer diving into the crease (and at Fleurys skates) in a desperate attempt to follow the puck. That was also turned away. And then there was what happened to Danny Briere.
If anyone had a chance to level the contest, it was Briere. He had two chances, actually. The first came when he skated from left to right in front of the goal. As Briere shot, it looked so certain that the puck was going in that people without money or gambling inclination would have wagered their net worth on it without hesitation. Instead, Fleury stretched and did the kind of spread eagle split that no one ought to be limber enough to attempt, let alone pull off. Somehow, Fleurys left pad stopped that first shot from Briere then it stopped the second shot when Briere took a whack at the rebound. Had either of the shots been an inch or so higher, the Flyers might be preparing for the semifinals instead of another meeting with the indefatigable Penguins.
Asked about the idea that his team played some of its best hockey of the series despite the end result, Laviolette conceded that he saw some good things in the third period but added that the last 10 minutes of the game wont cut it.