Flyers rally to stun Penguins, grab 2-0 series lead
Friday, 04.13.2012 / 10:32 PM
Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior WriterPITTSBURGH
-- Same start. Same frenetic, fantastic pace. Same end result.
Once again the Philadelphia Flyers
were slow out of the dressing room and let the Pittsburgh Penguins
jump out to an early lead. But once again, the road team figured out a way to do what it does best -- come back from a multiple-goal deficit to win at Consol Energy Center.
The Flyers scored three game-tying goals before Jaromir Jagr
gave them their first regulation lead of the series with 10:47 to play in the third period. Nineteen-year-old rookie Sean Couturier
completed his stunning hat trick with 1:49 left in regulation, and Claude Giroux
capped off his hat trick and a six-point night with an empty-net goal as Philadelphia skated away with a wild 8-5 win in Game 2 on Friday night.
Philadelphia, underdogs in this series because Pittsburgh had more playoff experience and five more points in the regular-season standings, is taking a 2-0 lead back home because of its belief that no deficit is too great.
The Flyers trailed 3-0 in Game 1 but came back to win 4-3 in overtime. They have now fallen behind the Penguins by at least a 2-0 margin four times since March 18 and have come back to win every time. The last three times it has happened in Pittsburgh.
Game 3 set for Sunday at Wells Fargo Center (3 p.m. ET, NBC, TSN, RDS). The Flyers are 17-0 in playoff series in which they've led 2-0.
"When you're able to come back in a game like that, again, I think it speaks volumes about the character in the room," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "Fighting back like that is not easy, and the players were just so resilient that it's unbelievable, really."
Jagr scored the winner by whipping a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury
from the right circle. The Flyers then were able to do what the Penguins haven't done yet in this series -- hold a lead.
"I think we were so happy to have it that we were just fighting like crazy to keep it," Laviolette said. "I really thought after the first period we started to play our brand of hockey, which is attack. We didn't attack very well in the first period and we didn't move as well as we needed to move. It changed after the first period. The second and third period is more of the identity of how we need to play. The players did an amazing job at that."
Philadelphia spotted the Penguins a 2-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game. It was 3-1 after Paul Martin
scored his first home goal in two seasons as a Penguin with 17.2 seconds left in the first period.
However, the Flyers made it 3-3 midway through the second on back-to-back goals by Giroux; 4-4 on Couturier's first goal of the game with only 2.8 seconds left before intermission; and 5-5 on Couturier's second goal just 1:21 into the third period.
That one, the result of a defensive zone turnover by Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy
, came 17 seconds after Tyler Kennedy
had given Pittsburgh the lead again.
"We've got to play a full 60 minutes and we're going to keep talking about it until we do," Penguins forward James Neal
said. "They've got a lot of great players, and they're going to score goals. We just need to find a way to win, close out games, and play a full 60 minutes. It's frustrating when we have such a good first period and we let it slip away."
Couturier played a huge role in taking it away from the Penguins.
The 19-year-old became the youngest player to score a hat trick in a playoff game since Ted Kennedy did it in 1945 -- Kennedy was four days younger than Couturier is right now. Couturier also added an assist on Giroux's empty-net goal. But, the rookie who was born in Phoenix but raised in Bathurst, N.B., was also again tasked with shutting down Art Ross Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin
The Penguins superstar had two assists on the power play, but finished a minus-4 with only two shots on goal. Malkin is a minus-5 with only five shots on goal in the series.
"If he didn't score any goals, I would say he had a great game," Jagr said of Couturier. "But he played great defense and also scored three goals. I don't know if I know any words to describe his game today. Awesome, maybe something better than that. He was unbelievable."
Pittsburgh grabbed the 1-0 lead on Sidney Crosby
's second goal of the series just 15 seconds into the game. Kunitz scored his first of two power-play goals before the game was 10 minutes old, prompting Laviolette to use his timeout.
It worked -- again.
Roughly three minutes after Kunitz made it 2-0, and with the Flyers attempting to kill Nicklas Grossmann
's second minor penalty of the period, goalie Ilya Bryzgalov
made one of his best saves as a Flyer when he flashed the leather and robbed Kris Letang
with a glove save off a shot from the right circle at 12:23.
"Save of the year," Jagr called it.
Philadelphia used the momentum from that save to score the first of its two shorthanded goals 21 seconds later. The Flyers outscored the Penguins 3-2 on special teams.
"We all know in playoffs it's a big part of a win or a loss," Talbot said, "and our special teams were good -- a difference for sure."
Still, six seconds after Giroux's shorthanded goal in the second period, Kunitz scored his second power-play goal to give Pittsburgh the lead right back.
The Flyers were again undaunted, as they usually are when the Penguins grab a lead.
"I don't know how many times we'll be able to do comebacks like that, but we have to find a way to have a better start," Giroux said. "I don't know what we're going to do, but we have to switch it up. We can't put ourselves in a situation like that. It's unacceptable. Everybody knows it, and we're going home. Obviously it's going to be a different story."
It'll definitely be a different scene.
"It'll be nice to get back to Philadelphia; we have the best fans in the League," Laviolette said. "I hope they make some noise. It'll be nice to see that wave of orange in the building instead of the white."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl