Just 14 days removed from having two screws surgically implanted in his right foot, Flyers alternate captain Simon Gagne connected for his first goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on his only shift of overtime to give Philadelphia a dramatic 5-4 victory over the Boston Bruins on Friday before 19,702 at the Wachovia Center.
MORE COVERAGE: RASK CALM | GAGNE RETURNS
The victory pulls the Flyers within 3-1 of this best-of-seven series that now shifts to TD Garden in Boston for Game 5 on Monday at 7 p.m.
"Yeah, it's a good ending," Gagne said. "I cannot ask for more to be able to come back early a little bit in the series. To be able to score that big goal. It's fun to score goals but when you get those in overtime it's the best feeling in the world. It's good to be able to win this game."
The Flyers haven't won a playoff game in Boston since May 4, 1976 -- a 4-2 decision in the League's semifinal round. The Flyers would win that series, 4-1. Philadelphia is now 25-33 all-time when facing elimination in the playoffs, including preliminary rounds and best-of-five series.
On the game-winner, Boston goalie Tuukka Rask (29 saves) admitted he couldn't recover in time to deny Gagne.
"I was expecting that kind of pass (from Matt Carle); it's tough to recover with your pad," Rask said. "I just try to get my glove there. I got it, but it went under it, it happens."
"Let's face it, it's one goal -- it's a big goal but now we're going to keep going and maybe I'll have a chance to score a bigger goal than that," Gagne said. "It's one step and big win for us. We're able to go and force Game 5 in Boston, so let's hope I'll get a bigger one."
Gagne knows Monday's Game 5 is going to be played at a similar frenetic pace.
"If you look at the series, it's been tight games since Game 1," Gagne said. "We lost the first game in overtime, after that we lost by one goal with two minutes left in the game (in Game 2). I think we played very well at home the last game, it was just we didn't get those lucky bounces.
"Tonight we had the feeling we could come here and get the win and be able to get back in the series."
It certainly didn't look that way when ex-Flyer Mark Recchi scored his second of the game from just outside the right post with just 31.5 seconds remaining in the third, pulling the Bruins into a 4-4 tie.
"We talked about (the Recchi goal)," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "The most important thing going back into the overtime was to completely wash out everything that happened in the game, the good and the bad, just leave it.
"It was now about scoring the next goal for survival, and we needed to make sure that we focused on that, our game, our attack, what it is we did. I thought we played a really good overtime period. We were generating quality chances and getting the opportunities that we wanted to get. Defensively, we were pretty tight. We did it with a short bench, we only had three lines, and I thought the overtime period was good for us."
Unlike Game 1 when Flyers goalie Brian Boucher made 14 saves in overtime before yielding the game-winner to Boston's Marc Savard, the veteran goalie stopped all nine shots directed at him in the OT session this time to give his team a chance.
"It's nice to get a win -- we wanted to get this game," Boucher said. "It's a must-win, I don't need to say that. It shows a lot about our character. We're back in this thing. We feel good about ourselves and now the pressure is on them. They're going home and we still have nothing to lose here. We're going to give our best on the road, give a good road effort, and hope to bring it back here (on Wednesday)."
Gagne's heroics overshadowed a marvelous effort by Carle, who notched four assists, three blocked shots and a plus-5 rating. Ironically, the last Flyer with four assists in playoff game was Recchi on May 7, 2000.
The Flyers had taken a 4-3 lead with 5:40 left in the third when Ville Leino scored his first postseason goal as a Flyer off a timely tip-in between the hash marks off a blast from the point by Chris Pronger.
"Ville had a good game and Matty Carle was outstanding," Laviolette said. "He had a terrific game for us back there. Our guys put in a gutsy effort tonight."
The Flyers opened a 2-1 lead at 4:28 of the second when Pronger ripped a shot from the left point that blew past Rask. Mike Richards was tossed from the faceoff circle and Gagne would win the draw to Daniel Carcillo, who fed Carle at the point. Carle swept a pass to Pronger, who one-timed his fourth of the playoffs.
The home team would make it 3-1 just 4:07 later when Claude Giroux, who was playing inspired hockey throughout, slammed home his fifth of the playoffs from the slot. Philadelphia pulled into a 1-1 tie with just 53 seconds remaining in the first when Danny Briere took a pass from Giroux and ripped a shot from the top of the right circle that beat Rask through the wickets.
Recchi had given the Bruins a 1-0 lead at the 15:37 mark after alertly cleaning up on a juicy rebound allowed by Boucher off a rush up the middle by Patrice Bergeron.
"We're disappointed we lost, but at the same time, (it was) a character game," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "No matter what the score was, we kept battling and got ourselves back in it, not once but twice."
Shift of game: Flyers defenseman Matt Carle, who finished with four assists in Game 4, started the play that led to the winning goal with a pass through the neutral zone to Mike Richards. The Philadelphia captain gained the Boston zone and gave the puck back to Carle skating down the center of the ice. Simon Gagne was stationed to the right of Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask and in perfect position for a simple redirection when Carle sent a pass his way. The goal with 5:20 left in the first overtime kept the Flyers’ season alive