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Scoring first is Penguins' goal in Game 4

Tuesday, 04.21.2009 / 1:49 PM / 2009 Playoffs Conference Quarterfinals

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA – Through the first 22 games of the postseason, the team that has scored first is 14-8.

"First goals are always huge," Penguins forward Matt Cooke told NHL.com. "First goals definitely are momentum builders. When you're scored against, it forces you into an uncomfortable situation."

The Penguins found themselves in an uncomfortable situation in Game 3, as the Flyers scored first and were able to dictate the play. That forced the Penguins to chase the game, which led to a loss of focus on their systems.

"I think the way they play, lot of chippy hockey, after the whistles lots of stuff, and I think their fans feed off of that and their players feed off of that," center Jordan Staal told NHL.com. "We have to play whistle to whistle and get out of the scrums and just play our hockey."

"I think when we got into a situation where were playing from behind, and we get a little to emotional and didn't focus on the system and what makes us successful," said Cooke. "If we maintain our level of composure and focus on playing the way we need to, we're going to have more success."

Getting that first goal is a big part of finding that level of success.

"It's always big to get the first goal in any game," Staal said. "It's a lot tougher to chase a win, especially when you're in the other team's building."

Controlling those emotions in Game 4 Tuesday is one of the keys for the Pens.

"There are a lot of different things we're talking about," said Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma. "Talking about the emotions of playing on the road, the emotions of playing in this building, and we're talking about other things we can adjust as well. There's more to our success tonight then being in control of our emotions."

Briere improving -- The 2008-09 season likely was the most frustrating ever for Flyers forward Danny Briere. Groin and abdominal muscle injuries limited him to just 11 goals in 29 games, both numbers being the fewest he's played in a season since become a full-time NHL player in 2000-01.

The silver lining to the dark cloud is that unlike most of his teammates, Briere is fresh from all the wear and tear of the regular season, and seems to be building his game at the most important time of the year.

Briere had his best game of the postseason in Game 3, picking up a pair of assists, including a sweet dish through traffic to set up Claude Giroux's second-period goal. The unit of Briere, Giroux and Darroll Powe was the Flyers' best trio Sunday.

"He's a guy that is a very effective power-play guy and he gives you some balanced scoring in your lineup," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "The fact is he hasn't been worn down from a long season. … There's no question having a guy like that back in your lineup is a huge bonus this time of year."

"I wouldn't say I'm 100 percent but its getting closer," Briere told NHL.com. "It just seems like every three or four days I'm able to get a little more strength, a little more speed, a little more power. Hopefully it keeps going that way."


Quote of the Day

I just wanted to do something to take my mind off the shot and let me relax a little bit. It seemed like the fans liked it. I'm glad I was able to score.

— Oilers forward Taylor Hall on lifting his arms to fire up the crowd before his penalty shot
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