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Desperate defines both Flyers, Penguins

Wednesday, 04.22.2009 / 2:45 PM / 2009 Playoffs Conference Quarterfinals

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PITTSBURGH -- The Philadelphia Flyers will be a desperate team when they take the ice Thursday night for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS)

The Penguins, though, plan on being just as desperate. While the Flyers need to win to stay alive, the Penguins feel the need to win just as much; they have the Flyers on the ropes, and are desperate to land that knockout blow.

"We want to finish it off," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "As desperate as they are, we want to make sure our battle level is there and we play with the same amount, if not more (desperation). Certainly our desperation has to be there, too."

While the Penguins took a 3-1 decision in Philadelphia in Game 4 to take a stranglehold on the series, they were outplayed and only a superior performance by goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury saved them.

"You rely on everybody at one point in time or another in the playoffs," Bill Guerin said. "Last night was (Fleury's) night and we can honestly say he stole that one for us. But that's what you ask of your goaltender in the playoffs. And that's what you need. Sometimes you win on someone's individual effort and that's what we got (Tuesday) night."

Relying on their goaltending again won't be good enough. The Penguins know they can play better, and recognize they will have to if they want to finish the Flyers.

Penguins right wing Craig Adams said he expects the Flyers will come out as hard as they have all series and try to take the game to the Penguins. Rather than just try to weather the early storm, though, Adams said the Pens should try to dictate the play early.

"A game like Game 3, it's the first game of the series at home in their rink, you have that mindset they're going to come out hard in the first five minutes," Adams told NHL.com, "but the rest of the series goes on. That should be our goal, to jump on them, to take the game to them in the first part."

Having the game at what should be another boisterous sell-out crowd in Mellon Arena should help.

"We're excited to be back home," Guerin said. "Philly is a tough place to play. They've got their fans behind them. We're just really excited to be home in our building, playing in front of our fans."

The Flyers played about as well as they could possibly play in Game 4 and came up short. The Penguins expect to see more of the same in Game 5, if not to a higher degree, due to the Philly’s desperation.

"When you're put in that situation, you'd be surprised what teams can do," Crosby said. "Just in their plays -- there's no soft plays, every hit is finished. The way they forecheck, the way a team comes at you, (the desperation) shows. You see it even more because it's the playoffs."

To counter Philadelphia's amped-up desire to extend its season, the Penguins know they have to respond in kind.

"We have an opportunity to get that fourth one," Pens coach Dan Bylsma said. "But that's a hard one to get; it's the most difficult to get. We want to get it as soon as we can get it. We know they're going to play desperate and hard and we know they're a good team. They've played well the last two games and they've given us everything we can handle. We know it's going to be a challenge and we want to make sure we're focused and ready to play our game and take care of business."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com.
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