Flyers 6 Penguins 3
PHILADELPHIA — The Flyers opened to a throwback video from the Stanley Cup glory days, then displayed a quick fuse that showed flashes of the old Broad Street Bullies spirit and revved up the crowd.
The bond with the past and the rowdy home fans gave a nice emotional lift, but it was Jeff Carter and Mike Richards that jolted the offence early and really got Philadelphia back in its playoff series against Pittsburgh.
Carter and Richards scored their first goals of the series early for a sorely needed fast start on home ice. 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.
“It was a huge game. We didn’t want to go down 3-0 because that’s a tough task,” Flyers centre Danny Briere said. “We have to enjoy it for a few minutes here.”
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 post-season three 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.
“You look at Game 1, and I thought we sat back too much and let them dictate the pace,” Briere said. “We can’t sit back and let them dictate because guys like Crosby and Malkin are going to hurt you.”
Evegni Malkin scored two goals for the Penguins, who are still waiting for Sidney Crosby to catch fire. Crosby had two assists in Game 3, but has only one goal in three games.
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 less 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 all the difference in the second period. Briere swiped a rebound off Marc-Andre 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 defence 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.
“I never anticipate them getting two back on us right away,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.