Perhaps a little motivation is all the Philadelphia Flyers need as they return home for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Buffalo Sabres.
"The more they acted like idiots, the more we wanted to play," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said of the Flyers following Buffalo's 8-2 win Monday to take a 2-0 series lead. "But we took advantage of some early plays, and they were great plays, but nothing to go down that road."
The road Ruff was referring to was Philadelphia's inability to keep its emotions in check following a first period in which it fell behind 5-0. The Flyers had a total of 17 penalties and 61 penalty minutes for the game, which included Denis Gauthier's ejection, Ben Eager's two misconducts and goaltender Robert Esche challenging two Sabres to a fight in the opening period.
The 61 penalty minutes were the most for the Flyers since they had 213 in a 5-3 win over Ottawa on March 5, 2004.
Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock wasn't about to let the opposing coach show up his players, especially in the playoffs.
"That's Lindy's opinion," Hitchcock said. "I've seen his teams do the same thing. So he ought not to talk about that."
Philadelphia's penalties resulted in 12 power-play opportunities for the Sabres, who scored with the man advantage three times, including twice on goals by Chris Drury and J.P. Dumont in the first period.
Dumont's goal at 19:46 was his second of the period and marked the end of Esche's night after he faced just 10 shots. He was replaced by rookie Antero Niittymaki.
"You can't blame Robert," said Peter Forsberg, who assisted on Simon Gagne's goal early in the second period to cut the deficit to 5-1. "They had open nets everywhere."
Dumont later added his third goal midway through the second, while Jason Pominville completed a hat trick with two goals in the third. They became just the eighth set of teammates to record hat tricks in the same playoff game.
"It's an unbelievable feeling and something you don't even dream about," Pominville said. "To have the chance to compete for the (Stanley) Cup and then to get three goals is just unbelievable."
Hitchcock was anything but impressed with the way his team performed.
"We were overwhelmed in the first 10 minutes, that's my responsibility," he said. "We were embarrassed for our fans and we were embarrassed for the city of Philadelphia. We've got a lot of work to do."
The Flyers will try to turn the series around in Games 3 and 4 at home, where they are 106-73 all time in the postseason, including a 15-5 mark against Buffalo.
Philadelphia, though, is just 2-11 when trailing 2-0 in a series and last rallied from a two-game deficit in 1999-2000, when it beat Pittsburgh 4-2 in the conference semifinals. Buffalo, meanwhile, is 11-1 when taking a 2-0 lead in a series.
Game 4 is Friday night in Philadelphia.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Sabres - 110 points; 4th seed. Flyers - 101 points; 5th seed.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Sabres - Dumont and Pominville, 3 goals; Daniel Briere
and Paul Gaustad, 3 assists; Dumont, Pominville and Briere, 4 points; Toni Lydman, Jay McKee and Thomas Vanek, 6 PIM. Flyers - Gagne, 2 goals; Forsberg and Eric Desjardins, 2 assists; four with 2 points; Eager, 26 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Sabres - Power play: 14.3 percent (3 for 21). Penalty killing: 87.5 percent (7 for 8). Flyers - Power play: 12.5 percent (1 for 8). Penalty killing: 85.7 percent (18 for 21).
GOALTENDERS: Sabres - Ryan Miller (2-0, 1.63 GAA); Martin Biron (no appearances). Flyers - Esche (0-2, 4.48); Niittymaki (0-0, 4.50).