On Sunday, Carcillo was the more effective player for 63 and a half minutes as the Flyers beat the Devils in overtime, 3-2.
Quite appropriately in this infraction-filled game, Carcillo scored the game-winning goal just five seconds after a Flyers power play expired. Carcillo's tap-in at 3:35 of overtime gave Philadelphia the 2-1 advantage in this best-of-seven series.
As New Jersey's Travis Zajac and Mike Mottau errantly double-teamed Simon Gagne in front of the Devils' goal, Flyers captain Mike Richards managed to push the puck to a wide-open Carcillo for the tap-in from two feet away past Martin Brodeur, who didn't have a chance.
"Gags made a great play crowding the net," said Carcillo. "Richie made a tough play at the side of the net. The defense seemed pre-occupied, so I just kind of snuck in there."
"They out-numbered us in front of the net at the end of the power play," said Mottau. "Carcillo just happened to be there back-door to put it in. We didn't react down low the way we wanted to and it ended up in our net."
Philadelphia's fast, talented and gritty trio of Carcillo, Richards and Gagne has a lot of everything except size, and now is the biggest reason the Flyers lead the first round series. Besides connecting on the overtime goal, the line combined for a goal early in the second period to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead and coach Peter Laviolette an ideal example of how his team can pound their rival into turning over the puck.
As Mark Fraser held the puck behind his team's goal, Gagne decided to use his speed to apply some forecheck pressure on the Devils rookie defenseman making his playoff debut. Gagne's bodycheck caused Fraser to be removed from the puck. Carcillo picked up and passed to Richards for the goal.
"I give Danny a lot of credit," said Laviolette. "There were so many power plays, he didn't get out there much for long stretches. Danny did a great job staying ready and keeping his legs moving. He provides energy you can grab onto and harnass."
You may hear a lot over the next 24 hours about how Kovalchuk has five points (one goal, four assists) over the last two games. But that would be misleading. Kovalchuk's two assists -- vital no doubt -- came on the power play. Despite receiving over 27 minutes of icetime from Jacques Lemaire, Kovalchuk did not register a shot on goal.
"We'll look at his game, sit down with him and see what he can do," said a concerned Lemaire after the game.
To be sure, Kovalchuk wasn't alone in having an off night. New Jersey was out-played for most of the game, especially when it counted most. With the game tied 2-2 after two periods, the Devils chased the Flyers for most of the third and were out-shot 13-3. They had no shots on goal during the final 10 minutes of regulation and coughed up the puck more than you're used to seeing the Devils do in a month of games.
"We have to look at ourselves and be critical," said New Jersey forward Patrick Elias, among the many who were not sharp. "We were not nearly as good as we needed to be -- especially the third period. We did not dictate anything. We were not as determined as we were in Game Two at home."
Carcillo, Richards and Gagne were determined in their home. They give the Flyers a hard-nosed identity up front that we've yet to see from the Devils in this series.
In five days of exhilarating NHL playoff action in both conferences, this one would not crack the list of the ten most unforgettable playoff games of the week because of a pair of referees seemingly determined to make the event about them.
What if Brad Meier and Brad Watson let them play?
Perhaps the referees were afraid the raucous atmosphere in the Flyers' home rink would spill on to the rink? Maybe they got an advance copy of HBO's documentary on the Broad Street Bullies and decided to call the game like it was 1974. When Rob Niedermayer was whistled for slashing when tapped the arm of Claude Giroux mid-third period with the score tied at 2-2, even Bobby Clarke had to squirm in his suite.
"Because of all the power plays," said Brodeur, "it was tough for the game to have any momentum."
There were 15 minor penalties called, enough for more than a full period's worth of either the Flyers or Devils on the power play. If that sounds exciting, it wasn't. For the record, New Jersey was 2-8, Philadelphia 1-5 on the man-advantage.
"The series has been a lot of special teams," said forward Dainius Zubrus, the Devils' best player on this night. "We've had some power play goals, but it will be a lot better for us if we can keep it to 5-on-5."
It would be a lot better for everyone.
Brian Rolston scored both Devils goals in regulation. Both were on the power play, on shots from the point, assisted by Kovalchuk and with Zubrus screening Flyers goalie Brian Boucher. Claude Giroux, arguably the Flyers' most consistently effective forward through three games, and Mike Richards had the goals for Philadelphia ...
Laviolette said Mike Richards "has been our best forward for four games straight," going back to the win in the regular season finale over the Rangers last Sunday to qualify for the playoffs.
Flyers center Jeff Carter, who led the team with 33 goals during the regular season, has yet to make his mark on the series after recovering from a broken bone in his foot. The center is pointless in three games, but makes no excuses. "It's definitely frustrating," said Carter. "I have to play better. No limitations. My foot is not an issue. It's the playoffs. I've just got to go out and play." ...
After tricking a referee into calling a penalty on a phantom high stick in the regular season finale win over the Rangers, Daniel Carcillo may have to bleed a river to get another call. The Flyers' agitator was high-sticked eight minutes in, but the Devils got away with it ...
Referees Brad Meier and Brad Watson called just about everything else early on. At the ten-minute mark of the first period, the Devils were given four power plays and the Flyers one ...
Jamie Langenbrunner leads the Devils with four overtime playoff goals. Daniel Briere leads the Flyers with two ...
Philadelphia goalie Michael Leighton, who had taken over the No. 1 job until a high ankle injury sidelined him for the final 13 games of the regular season, has begun light skating and drills. He is not close to returning to the lineup. However, Leighton could be available in the second round if the Flyers get by New Jersey ...
After sitting out Game Two, defenseman Lucas Krajicek returned to the lineup. With the Flyers carrying seven capable defenseman on the roster, Sunday was Oskar Bartulis' turn to be the healthy scratch ...
Jacques Lemaire also made a change on defense, giving rookie Mark Fraser his NHL playoff debut and sitting Martin Skoula. Fraser, a player with a very bright future, struggled. "Yes, he did," acknowledged Lemaire after the game.
Defensive defenseman Colin White's goal in Game Two was a surprise and rare. White became the fifth player in NHL history to score a playoff goal as a rookie and then not his second until at least a decade later. White's first playoff goal came on April 29 against Toronto ...
The Flyers were 24-14-3 at home during the regular season and are now 4-0 at home this season against New Jersey. "We were excited about playing at home," said veteran forward Ian Laperriere, in his first season with the team. "I've heard good things about our building during the playoffs."