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Flyers' comebacks have them in control

by John Kreiser /

Maybe the Philadelphia Flyers ought to let the Pittsburgh Penguins just start the game with a couple of goals to get the preliminaries out of the way.

Friday night marked the fourth time in less than four weeks that the Penguins jumped to a multiple-goal lead against the Flyers -- and lost. On Wednesday, they led 3-0 and lost 4-3 in overtime; on Friday, they led 2-0 and 3-1, only to be beaten 8-5.

Three of the Flyers' four comebacks have come in Pittsburgh, where the Flyers are 7-1-0 at the two-year-old Consol Energy Center.

Going down 2-0 in a playoff series against the Flyers isn't a good idea -- Philadelphia is a perfect 17-0 when it wins the first two games (and 29-7 when it wins Game 2). But the Penguins have some history on their side as well -- Pittsburgh has overcome a 2-0 deficit to win a series five times, tying the Penguins with Montreal and Detroit for the most in NHL history. One of those comebacks, in 1996 against Washington, came after the Penguins lost the first two games at home.

Sean Couturier
Center - PHI
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 4
SOG: 6 | +/-: 3
Kid stuff -- One year ago, the talk prior to the NHL Draft was that Sean Couturier's stock was dropping -- the Flyers ultimately got him with the eighth pick after he was considered a potential top-three selection earlier in the season. Now it looks like they got a steal.

The 19-year-old became the first teenager since Toronto's Ted Kennedy in 1945 to have a playoff hat trick when he scored three times in the Flyers' win Friday at Pittsburgh. Kennedy was all of four days older when he got his on April 14, 1945.

Another Flyer who's not exactly ready for Social Security, 24-year-old Claude Giroux, had a hat trick of his own and added three assists, making him the first player since Mario Lemieux in 1992 to get six points in a playoff game. Only Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky and Peter Sundstrom have had more than that in a single postseason contest.

Rude return -- The Florida Panthers returned to the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Friday night for the first time in 12 years -- the longest drought in NHL history. The South Florida faithful will have to wait a little longer to actually celebrate a victory.

The Panthers allowed three goals on 26 shots in the first period -- and not even a dominant last 40 minutes was enough to beat the New Jersey Devils, who hung on for a 3-2 win in their series-opener. It was the ninth consecutive playoff loss for the Panthers, who haven't won a postseason game since beating the New York Rangers 3-0 in the opener of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series in 1997. The Rangers won the next four games, and the Devils swept Florida in the opening round in 2000 -- the last time before this season that the Panthers qualified for postseason play.

The Panthers have a ways to go to equal the longest losing streak in playoff history -- Chicago dropped 16 straight games from 1975 through 1979 -- the Hawks ended the drought by winning their first game in 1980.

Power outage -- For most of the regular season, the Detroit Red Wings were nothing special when it came to killing penalties. They've found the right time to pick up their game.

The Wings have given the NHL's best regular-season power play 12 chances in the first two games of their series against the Nashville Predators -- and killed all 12, extending their streak of consecutive kills to 37, including a 25-for-25 run in the last seven games of the regular season. Before that streak, they were killing penalties at a 79.9 percent rate; the late surge got them up to 81.8 percent for the season.

Good omens
-- Though the Wings came into the contest Friday at Nashville down 1-0 in the series, history said they had every reason to be confident entering Game 2.

Detroit's 3-2 win against Nashville gave the Wings a 69-47 all-time record in Game 2s, their best mark in any game. The odds of a victory in Game 2 went up when Pavel Datsyuk drew an assist on Johan Franzen's second-period goal, which turned out to be the game-winner. The Wings are now 59-24 (.711) in playoff games when Datsyuk has at least one point, but are just 26-32 (.448) when he's held off the scoresheet.

Though they're going home for Game 3, history isn't nearly as much in their favor on Sunday -- the Wings are 53-54 all-time in Game 3s and 48-52 in Game 4s.

Coming up short -- At least the Predators' power play isn't giving up goals, which is more than the Vancouver Canucks can say.

Not only did the Canucks go 0-for-5 with the extra man against Los Angeles in their 4-1 loss to the Kings on Friday, making them 0-for-10 in the series, they surrendered a pair of shorthanded goals to L.A. captain Dustin Brown, who became the 13th player in NHL history to score twice in the same playoff game while his team was down a man.

Brown is the first King to accomplish that feat -- Los Angeles hadn't had two shorthanded goals in the same playoff game since Jari Kurri and Dave Taylor did it on May 21, 1993.

The Kings take a 2-0 series lead back to L.A. -- it's the first time in the five postseason meetings between the teams that one club has won the first two games. The Canucks haven't trailed 2-0 in a series since dropping the first two games to Colorado on the way to being swept in the first round; the Kings haven't won the first two games of a best-of-seven series since 1968, when they beat the Minnesota North Stars in the first two playoff games in franchise history. L.A. is hoping for a better outcome this time -- the Kings lost that one in seven games.
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