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At the Rink blog

Flyers look to solve first-goal problem against Caps

Sunday, 03.04.2012 / 1:55 PM

By Ben Raby - NHL.com Correspondent / At the Rink blog

WASHINGTON -- The Philadelphia Flyers have allowed the first goal in a staggering nine-straight games and in 12 of their last 13 games overall.

The notoriously slow-starting Flyers have led just once in the last 36 games at the ten-minute mark of the first period.

"It's not something we're proud of," said forward Daniel Briere ahead of tonight's game against the Washington Capitals. "We keep talking about it, but for some reason it keeps happening over and over again so it's something that we're trying to fix. I don't know exactly what's wrong."

Briere is in an 18-game scoreless drought -- his longest since 1998-99- but if there is a team best equipped to play from behind this season, it may be the Flyers. Peter Laviolette's team is averaging a league-best 3.3 goals-per-game, and Philadelphia's 76 second period goals are tops in the NHL.

"I'd rather fix the problem," Laviolette said of having to come back from early deficits. "Coming back is a wear mentally and physically on your team. It's nice to have a team that competes and doesn't quit, but you'd rather go out and jump on an early lead and build that up. So it shows a little bit of resiliency, but we'd rather fix the problem."

The Flyers are 4-5-0 while allowing the first goal in their last nine games and they have not won back-to-back games since a pair of one-goal wins over the Hurricanes and Islanders Jan.10-12.

Philadelphia begins the day in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 77 points, but the Flyers could drop to seventh with a regulation loss today and wins by the New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators.

The Capitals have also made falling behind early a common occurrence. The Caps have allowed the first goal in 9 of their last 11 games overall and compared to Washington teams of the past; this year's edition has found it difficult to play catch up.

Under coach Dale Hunter the Caps have won 16 of the 20 games in which they have scored first. They have also lost 18 of the 22 games in which they have allowed the first goal under Hunter.

Ilya Bryzgalov (23-13-6) will make his season-high eighth straight start tonight for the Flyers while the Capitals are expected to start Michal Neuvirth (9-10-3) for a fifth straight game.

I've been getting frustrated lately, and the only thing keeping me sane was the team winning and other people stepping up and scoring. Then you just kind of let it go and realize you can end the series with one shot, that frustration goes away for a brief moment, and that's what happened.

— Montreal forward Max Pacioretty after scoring the series-winner in Game 4 -- his first career playoff goal -- to eliminate the Lightning and send the Canadiens into the second round