Dan Carcillo seemed to symbolize the seething Rangers-Flyers rivalry. The former Flyer is the Rangers' in-your-face, under-your-skin guy who was in the lineup for what is euphemistically called "grit." What he gave them was something much different: a huge goal.
In that way, he symbolized this series that ended with the Rangers' 2-1 win in Game 7 Wednesday night at the Garden.
The expected animosity never did blossom. The hockey was more competitive than combative, with the pivotal play accomplished by Carcillo with his stick on the puck, not on someone's ribs.
He converted Mats Zuccarello's somewhat magical pass -- through the legs of two Flyers -- at 3:06 of the second period to break a scoreless tie.
There is no way to overstate the value of the first goal in a Game 7. Entering Wednesday night, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the team that scored first in the past 16 NHL Game 7s won the game.
Carcillo was just happy to learn Wednesday morning that he would be in there, considering he had played in only Games 3 and 4. It did not take much to figure why he did dress, what with the Flyers having won Game 6, contentedly having raised the temperature with some "physical" play.
As Wayne Simmonds said, after scoring a hat trick and getting a game misconduct, "It's part of hockey, right? It's the way you want it to be."
That type of game is what Carcillo always has been known for -- just not in his own mind.
"I've always been able to play but sometimes you just get pigeonholed in a role. That's just the way it is," said the forward who was acquired from the Kings on Jan. 4. "It's tough to climb out of it. I've always been able to help out offensively. But it's nice to help and get that sort of validation for yourself and get that confidence moving forward."
Zuccarello said, "He's won the Stanley Cup before. He's one of those guys you look to for experience here in the locker room. He's one of the guys who steps up every time he's on the ice."
The goal-scorer was the first to acknowledge that Zuccarello did the skill work on the big play. "Backhand pass off the wall, spin around, through two guys' legs and right on my tape. It's good that it went in, but it was a special play by a really good player," Carcillo said.
But Carcillo had the instincts to be in the right place in the right time, and the skill to follow the puck through the maze of Flyers and poke it in. This time, he was a pest to the opposition because of a goal.
"This year, I've just been trying to play hockey where years before I was too caught up in the hitting," he said. "It feels good. I've always liked the big stage. I'm just glad I got the opportunity."