The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs. (Loud applause, please.)
The 1975 New York Islanders. (Chico Resch was the man.)
The 2004 Boston Red Sox. (Still can’t believe it happened.)
They are the only three professional sports teams to ever win a playoff series after losing the first three games.
The Flyers, amazingly, will try to become the fourth.
“You know it’s certainly not a path that you would like to choose. You’d rather have done things differently through the course of the year and then the playoffs,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said after his team outlasted the Boston Bruins, 2-1, at the reverberating Wachovia Center on Wednesday to even the made-for-theatre series at three games apiece.
Game 7 is Friday in Boston.
“Like I said two days ago, the players deserve a tremendous amount of credit because they won't quit,” said Laviolette, whose seventh-seeded team would face eighth-seeded Montreal and get the home-ice advantage in the conference finals if it wins Friday. “Every time they are pushed, they push back. They are a very resilient group out there; they won't go away, and it’s become a strength of ours.
“I think based on things that have happened throughout the year, down the stretch and through the first round _ the adversity we’ve faced _ I feel like we are conditioned to it now.”
Goalie Brian Boucher suffered knee injuries in the second period of Game 5 on Monday, and was replaced by Michael Leighton, who made 14 saves to complete the Flyers’ 4-0 win in Boston.
On Wednesday, Leighton was superb, stopping 30 of 31 saves and looking in peak form _ even though it was his first playoff start ever….and his first start since March 16.
Laviolette was asked if part of his job was to keep the team grounded and not overconfident for Game 7.
“Well I think that’s been the message…..and that’s been the road we've been going down,” he said. “About being grounded, we are going have to play a better hockey game. I am going to be honest with you. Our game will have to be better in Boston than it was tonight.”
The Flyers found a way to win despite winning just 39 percent of the faceoffs, and managing just 43 shots (27 on goal) compared to Boston’s 79 (31 on goal).
They won because they blocked 30 shots, because Mike Richards and Danny Briere continued their playoff magic, because Leighton looked like the guy who went 16-5-2 in the regular season, and because they outscored the Bruins, 1-0, in special teams.
And because they continued to show the grit that, with a win in Game 7, will make them a part of Philadelphia’s rich sports lore _ even if they don't win the Stanley Cup.
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