Playing before a roaring orange-clad crowd at the Wachovia Center, the Flyers climbed back into the Eastern Conference quarterfinals with a hard-earned 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins Sunday in a series that feels like it’s going to go seven games.
“You saw the desperation that carried on through the game,” goalie Marty Biron said of the Flyers’ effort. “The emotion was definitely there and that’s the way we’ve been successful all year. Just being able to control it and we did a good job of that.”
The Penguins have a two-games-to-one edge, with the home team winning each contest.
For the Flyers, the best development Sunday was this: Marc-Andre Fleury resembled the goalie who wasn’t overly impressive against Philly in the regular season.
Fleury was superb in the first two games of this series, posting a 1.30 goals-against average and .955 save percentage. Coupled with his 1.61 playoff GAA against the Flyers last year, he was starting to get into the Flyers’ collective heads.
And even though most of the goals Sunday weren’t his fault, the six goals (including an empty-netter) give the Flyers some much-needed confidence.
“There were some bounces, too many goals for sure, and it’s tough to win games when you give up five goals,” Fleury said. “But we’ll try to forget about it….It stinks tonight, but tomorrow is a new day and Tuesday’s a new game.”
The Flyers got solid all-around efforts from their veterans and rookies.
Jeff Carter had been without a goal despite 13 shots in the first two games. He scored Sunday’s first goal after making two slick moves and depositing a backhander.
Mike Richards had just two goals in his previous 14 games before scoring a power-play goal on a shot that deflected off the stick of Penguins defenseman Hal Gill.
“It’s a big win for us, obviously,” Richards said. “It’s nice to play at home _ you feed off a lot of energy from the crowd.”
Rookies Claude Giroux and Jared Ross scored their first playoff goals. For Ross, a fourth-line center, it was the first goal of his career. Darroll Powe, another rookie, contributed an assist and some punishing hits.
Giroux was the game’s best player. He made it 3-2 after taking a pretty second-period feed from Danny Briere (two assists), and he made a series of breathtaking moves before setting up Simon Gagne (two goals) for a shorthanded goal that made it 4-2.
“His hockey sense is incredible,” Richards said.
“The key to every game _ especially the post-season _ is special teams, and we came out on the short end of that tonight,” Penguins interim coach Dan Bylsma said.
The Flyers were 1 for 6 on the power play, while the Penguins were 1 for 7. The Flyers also scored they key shorthanded goal.
So now the series is as close as possible after three games. The Flyers have another must-win game on Tuesday at the Wachovia Center.
“We’re going to have to continue to play better as we move through the series,” Flyers coach John Stevens said.
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Breakaways. Giroux, Andrew Alberts and Kimmo Timonen were each plus-2…..Penguins center Jordan Staal, who was impressive in the first two games, was a minus-3….The Penguins won 53 percent (29 of 55) of the faceoffs. Sidney was 14 fo 20 (70 percent)…..The Flyers had 29 hits _ 11 more than the Pens…..Carter and Richards combined for 10 shots, two goals and zero assists. Crosby and Evgeni Malkin combined for nine shots, two goals, and two assists….The Penguins outshot the Flyers, 9-2, in the first 14 minutes. After that, the Flyers had a 28-20 shots advantage.