Flyers lose, but give hope; Timonen says refs favor Crosby

    PITTSBURGH _ Just like last year, the Flyers have lost the first two games in a playoff series against their bitter rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    But unlike last year, you get the feeling the Flyers still have a chance to advance.

    They dropped a crushing 3-2 overtime decision to the Penguins here Friday night in a rivetting Eastern Conference quarterfinal.

    The Flyers held a 2-1 lead in the late in regulation, but a fluke power-play goal _ it deflected off the leg of Evgeni Malkin and past goalie Marty Biron with 3:37 left _ tied the score and set the stage for the overtime.

    The Flyers had more chances in the OT, but penalties to Mike Knuble and Claude Giroux gave the Pens a 5-on-3 power play and veteran Bill Guerin deposited game-winner _ his second goal of the night _ with 1:31 left.

    There were 26 sconds remaining on Knuble's penalty when Guerin moved from the left goal line and whipped a shot past Biron.

     For the Flyers, however, there is hope. They were much more energized, much more efficient than in their 4-1 opening-game loss and they slightly outplayed the Penguins in their own building.

    The Flyers' passing was much sharper _ they had just two giveaways, eight fewer than Pittsburgh _ and they were  more disciplined than in Game 1.

     That's looking at the glass half-full.

     If you look at it half-empty, the Flyers, despite their discipline for most of the game, committed penalties at the worst time and surrendered power-play goals that enabled the Penguins to tie and win the game.

     "We did a lot of good things," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "It's tough, but we'll be ready" in Game 3 on Sunday.

     The outcome would have been different if Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury hadn't made two critical saves on Jeff Carter.

    Carter, who finished second in the NHL with 46 goals, was stopped on a first-period breakaway that would have given the Flyers a 2-0 lead.

    With 8:30 to play in regulation and the Flyers holding a 2-1 lead, Carter appeared to have an open net in front as he tried to finish a two-on-one. But Fleury, who was out of position because of a deflection in front, lunged to his right and somehow got his right skate on the shot.

    "It gave us a second life," Guerin said.

     Now the Flyers have the task of trying to overcome a 2-0 series deficit. They have done that just twice in 11 playoff series in their history _ once against Toronto, the other against Pittsburgh.

     I don't see it happening, but I still see a long series.

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    In Sunday's Inquirer, Flyers' defenseman Kimmo Timonen said the referees are favoring Sidney Crosby.

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    Game 3 is Sunday at the Wachovia Center at 3 p.m.....Scott Hartnell (power play) and Darroll Powe scored for the Flyers.....The Flyers were outshot, 49-40, but most of the Penguins' shots were from the perimeter as Philadelphia clogged the middle......The Penguins had 50 hits _ 21 more than the Flyers. Mike Richards had seven hits. The Pens' Brooks Orpik was credited with 14 hits......Braydon Coburn had two assists and was arguably the Flyers' best player. Coburn (33:46), Matt Carle (30:54) and Timonen (30:15) each played 30-plus minutes for the Flyers.....Carter has 13 shots on goal in the series and is still looking for his first goal......Last year, Pittsburgh defeated the injury-plagued Flyers in five games during the conference finals. 

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