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Van Riemsdyk kept Flyers afloat

Former UNH star sterling in defeat

By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / May 3, 2011

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PHILADELPHIA — James van Riemsdyk was the Flyers best forward last night in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinals against the Bruins. Unfortunately for him and his teammates, that wasn’t enough. The talented left wing had both of Philadelphia’s goals — the first at 29 seconds of the opening period and the other on a power play at 9:31 that gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead — but Boston rallied to tie it and eventually won it, 3-2, on David Krejci’s goal 14 minutes into overtime.

Van Riemsdyk had eight shots, second only to teammate Mike Richards’s 10, and had ample opportunities for ample goals as the Flyers poured 54 shots on Bruins goalie Tim Thomas. The Flyers find themselves down, 2-0, in the best-of-seven series that shifts to Boston for tomorrow night’s Game 3.

“I think it was a great team effort, a good response game from us but unfortunately, that doesn’t really mean much because we didn’t win the game,’’ said van Riemsdyk, the former University of New Hampshire star.

Van Riemsdyk spent the night buzzing the Bruins net and was a constant thorn in the Bruins’ side but Thomas prevented van Riemsdyk from committing further damage.

“[Thomas] was pretty good in there,’’ said van Riemsdyk. “I think it’s just a matter of us just bearing down on those second chances and that’s all we really can do.’’

The Flyers had a chance to win it with a few seconds left in regulation. Van Riemsdyk had a bid and the rebound squirted out to Daniel Briere but Briere said he didn’t know the puck was there and it bounced over his stick.

“I had a lot of chances and I’m probably not going to be able to sleep well tonight thinking about some of those,’’ said van Riemsdyk. “It’s tough, but I mean we’re going to get back at it in Game 3 and we’re going to be ready to go. We’re down, 2-0, now but if we take it one day at a time, one game at a time, we’ll be in good shape.’’

The Flyers have made a habit of falling behind only to battle out of trouble. They were down, 3-0, to Boston last year and won four straight. Against Buffalo in the conference quarterfinals this year, they fell behind to the Sabres, 1-0, and, 3-2, before winning the final two contests.

“We’ve been known to respond when our backs are against the wall and this next one is pretty close to a must-win game, obviously,’’ said van Riemsdyk. “We’re going to have to really come out flying and kind of really lay it all out there. We’re a resilient group and obviously, this isn’t an ideal place for us to be in but we’re going to battle and we’re going to keep taking it one day at a time.’’

As disappointed as he was to lose the game, coach Peter Laviolette said he marveled at van Riemsdyk’s performance.

“It was really awesome watching him play like that,’’ said the coach. “As you’re watching him, he’s constantly using his size and his speed and just really taking charge of the game. It was such a good night for him. I’m anxious to see his future unfold but tonight he was an impact player. I thought it was one of the most dominating performances that I’ve seen from a player.’’

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at marrapese@globe.com.

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