Flyers advance past Devils

By Heather DiLalla
April 22, 2004

KRT Campus

Thanks to goals by Alexei Zhamnov and Danny Markov, a pair of Russians acquired late in the regular season, the Philadelphia Flyers will play in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Zhamnov scored the opening goal and Markov added the game-winner on a long shot in the final period to lead the Flyers in a 3-1 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils, eliminating them from the playoffs four games to one.

The Flyers, seeded No. 3, will play either No. 2 seeded Boston or the winner of the Ottawa/Toronto series should Montreal win its series with Boston.

“I’ve already started thinking about the next (series),” Flyers captain Keith Primeau said when asked how long he was going to celebrate the dethroning of the defending champs. “I think the focus starts right away.”

For Zhsamnov, savoring the moment will last a little longer.

“For me,” said the 33-year-old Russian who came to the Flyers in a Feb. 19 trade from Chicago, “it’s been 12 years in the NHL and this is my first time in the second round. I’m so happy we beat New Jersey.”

Zhamnov’s goal with 6:22 left in the opening period claimed the first goal of the game for the Flyers for the fifth straight game in the five-game series. Markov’s goal with 5:23 left in the game snapped a 1-1 tie and the sellout crowd of 19,778 turned up the volume.

“It was unbelievably loud,” said Flyers goalie Robert Esche, who made 31 saves to win his first-ever playoff series. “It was an unbelievable atmosphere. I didn’t think the place got that loud, but apparently it does. … I could feel the ice shake.”

Markov wristed a shot from just outside the right circle off an offensive rush. His shot just passed Brodeur on the left side, cracked off the pipe and into the net. Zhamnov and fellow Russian Vladimir Malakhov picked up the assists on Markov’s first playoff goal since the 2001 postseason.

“Both my (career playoff) goals are against New Jersey,” smiling Markov said. “I tried to shoot and saw the defenseman so close. I tried a quick shot and that was it.”

“I think when anybody with the personality of Danny Markov scores, it’s well-deserved.” said Esche. “This guy is just all heart-and-soul, all blood-and-guts.”

Markov’s acquisition from Carolina on Jan. 20 for popular young winger Justin Williams was a shock at the time, but filled a need because defenseman were falling to injuries at the time.

“They were great acquisitions,” Primeau said. “A lot was made at the time when we got Danny that we were giving up a young guy, but we also said at the time how good Danny was, and he’s done a great job.”

“Every one of the new guys we brought in were a big part of this,” said Mark Recchi, whose pre-school children were holding television microphones for the post-game interviews. “It’s awesome.”

Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock agreed.

“I think trading for players is one thing, but we gave up good people and we got back really good people. We were able to add some real character to our hockey team and I think that came through today, especially in the third period.”

With the sellout crowd at the Wachovia Center cheering wildly, Sami Kapanen’s empty-net goal with 7.5 seconds left iced the series.

“We played just like New Jersey did,” Hitchcock said. “This whole series was played at such an unbelievable pace, at such a high level of intensity and skill.

“The lift we have is understanding that we beat a hell of a hockey club,” Hitchcock said of a carryover into the next round.

“We still have a long way to go,” agreed Roenick. “One round doesn’t make anything. We have to focus in and gear up for a harder second round.”

Posted to the web by Mark Garlit

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Heather DiLalla

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