Flyers pull series to 2-1 against PenS
PHILADELPHIA ” The Flyers showed flashes of the old Broad Street Bullies spirit that revved up the crowd, jolted the offense and got them back in their playoff series against Pittsburgh.
Jeff Carter and Mike Richards scored their first goals of the series early for a sorely needed fast start. Claude Giroux and Simon Gagne put the Flyers ahead for good in a 6-3 victory over the Penguins on Sunday.
Pittsburgh leads the opening-round series 2-1 and Game 4 is Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
Unlike last season’s Eastern Conference finals when the Flyers flopped at home against the Penguins in Game 3, this year’s team came out charged from the opening faceoff.
Carter, the NHL’s scored-leading goal scorer, scored his first of the postseason 3 minutes into the game, and Richards made it two goals on two shots for the Flyers 2:15 later.
The Flyers put the pressure on early for the first time and were determined not to get outmuscled against the Penguins. The Flyers, the most penalized team in the NHL, and the Penguins never stopped scrapping and put on quite a show for the energized crowd.
While the shoving and punching invigorated the atmosphere, it was the rapid goal scoring after a punchless first two games that really made the difference for the Flyers.
The two goals in the first period were only one more than the Flyers scored in the first two losses. After the Penguins tied the game with goals 25 seconds apart over two periods, the Flyers came right back at them.
Giroux, the 21-year-old rookie, made a big difference in the second period. Danny Briere swiped a rebound off Fleury’s pad and fed it across the ice to a streaking Giroux, who punched in the puck for a 3-2 lead.
Playing short-handed midway though the second, Giroux controlled the puck behind the net. The Penguins defense swarmed him, but the former first-round pick was able to fend off Kris Letang and slip the puck to Gagne. Gagne scored the short-handed goal to make it 4-2 and their first of the series after they scored 16 that way during the regular season.
Martin Biron stopped 26 shots and played like the goalie who led the Flyers to the conference finals last year. Keeping up that kind of play in net along with the steady scoring and the series could come back to Philly for Game 6.
Jared Ross scored his first NHL goal in the third to make it 5-2 and Gagne added his second on an empty-netter with 1:36 left to secure the win.
Each team spent so much time fighting in the first half, the penalty box could have used a corner man. Philadelphia’s Scott Hartnell tangled with Chris Kunitz in front of the Pittsburgh bench, then Flyers defenseman Andrew Alberts scuffled with Evegni Malkin on the other side.
The bell sounded much to the delight of the sold-out crowd and the Flyers showed they still had plenty of fight left in this series.
By the midway point of the first half, the officials had their hands full. Giroux and Tyler Kennedy mixed it up at center ice, and the refs couldn’t stop Flyers center Darroll Powe and Letang throwing punches along the boards.
The “Rocky” soundtrack blared in the area was timely for once. The Flyers had 30 penalty minutes and the Penguins recorded 28.
The Penguins surprised Biron when Malkin took Ruslan Fedontenko’s feed from the corner and used a slapper on one knee for a goal with 12 seconds left in the first.
Rob Scuderi needed 13 seconds into the second to tie the game at 2 on shot into traffic from the high slot.
Malkin scored his fourth goal of the series to make it 5-3, but the Penguins have yet to really get Sidney Crosby going. Crosby has one goal in three games, though he did have two assists in Game 3.
The 19,975 orange T-shirt-wearing fans erupted when Lauren Hart, the daughter of longtime former Flyers broadcaster Gene Hart, sang “God Bless America,” alternating lyrics with Kate Smith, who was on a video image. Smith’s rendition of the song has been a rallying anthem for the Flyers since the mid-1970s and team uses the song sparingly.
Notes: Flyers F Dan Carcillo returned after serving a one-game suspension for his whack to Penguins forward Max Talbot’s head in the waning seconds of Game 1. The Flyers scratched D Luca Sbisa.
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