PHILADELPHIA – His surgically repaired toe was the least of Philadelphia Flyers forward Simon Gagne's troubles as he tried to coax his cramped legs into shape as overtime progressed in Game 4.
He eventually relayed to Flyers coach Peter Laviolette that he was ready for his first shift of OT as the Boston Bruins were a mere goal away from a second-round sweep at Wachovia Center Friday night.
"After 10 minutes, my legs were getting a little better," said Gagne, who had been out since he broke his toe on April 20. "I told Lavi to put me out there to see if I could do something good."
It didn't take long. Gagne nearly ended the game with a wrist shot Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask barely turned away and, moments later, he redirected in the game-winner off a cross-ice pass from defenseman Matt Carle as the Flyers earned a 5-4 victory with 5:40 left in the OT to send the series back to Boston. The Bruins still lead 3-1; Philadelphia is seeking to become only the third team in NHL history to come back from a 0-3 series deficit.
Earlier in the day, Laviolette said he didn't want Gagne to just be a feel-good story to give the team a short-lived boost early in the game. Laviolette didn't have to worry about that.
"He had seven shots on the net, nine attempts, game-winning goal in a must-win situation," Laviolette said. "It was a really gutsy effort."
Probably more than just about anybody else in the arena, Gagne said he didn't want to see overtime.
"I was praying that when we were up 4-3 with 30 seconds [left] that we were going to be done," Gagne said.
Mark Recchi, who already had one goal in Game 4, didn't cooperate. The veteran Bruins forward scored off the faceoff with 32 second left in regulation to tie the game, 4-4, as the contest progressed to overtime for the second time in the series.
"It was a great play by [Patrice Bergeron]," Recchi said. "It was all for naught. We just have to forget about it."
Gagne played 16 minutes, 25 seconds in Game 4, none of that time coming on any of Boston's four power plays. He practiced for the first time first since he injured his foot in Game 4 of the first-round series against the New Jersey Devils on a Brian Rolston slap shot on Thursday, although he didn't take part in Friday's morning skate.
Along with Gagne, the Flyers have also been without Jeff Carter (broken toe) and Ian Laperriere (brain contusion) for the duration of the second-round series. Philly may have also lost the services of grinder Daniel Carcillo, who didn't see any action in the third period or overtime.
"I haven't gotten any information from the doctors or the trainers on any of our players yet," Laviolette said.
While Rechhi and Gagne scored the most notable goals in Game 4, Carle compiled a four-point night (all assists) and finished as a plus-5.
"You know being down 3-0, you have to bring up the desperation level," Carle said. "You have to have that nothing-to-lose mentality and it paid off. I wasn't trying to be more offensive or anything. I was just trying get pucks to the net and make some chances."