-- The Philadelphia Flyers
again have the Boston Bruins
right where they want them.
Or do they?
In an all-too familiar story line in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Flyers once again trail the Boston Bruins
3-0 in a best-of-seven playoff series. The Bruins moved within one win of sending the Flyers home for the summer with a decisive 5-1 win in Game 3 on Wednesday at an energized TD Garden.
Of course, that’s the same situation the Flyers were in last year – and they became just the third team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit.
So the question of the night, of course, was whether the Flyers could pull off another comeback of epic proportions against a Bruins team that seems more focused, more determined and, quite honestly, more desperate this time around.
"I'll throw a whole bunch clichés at you -- one game at a time, one day at a time, one period at a time, but that's really all we can think about," defenseman Sean O'Donnell
said. "We can't think about winning four in row. We can't think of any of that stuff. We just have to come and play the way we know we can and keep getting traffic and win a period and hopefully win a game. Get to Game 5 … that's all we can do right now."
The Flyers now find themselves down 3-0 in a series for the seventh time in their history. They are 1-6 in those situations -- last year's triumph over the Bruins in the Eastern Conference semis is the one positive.
"We'll need to play our game with a sense of desperation," captain Mike Richards
said. "We're going to need that. It's obviously a big game for us and a must win and our backs are against the wall. We've responded very well in situations like this before, so hopefully Friday night will be no different."
The Bruins have a chance to complete the four-game sweep of the Flyers on Friday right back at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET; Versus, TSN, RDS). The Flyers will enter the fourth game of the series with an all-time record of 30-34 in games facing elimination, including Games 6 and 7 in their opening-round series against the Buffalo Sabres
"You have to draw strength from everything you've gone through as a group," Richards said. "It's not the time to point fingers and not the time to get down. It's a time you have to stick together and come together as a group and hopefully, do something special."
Doing something special is one thing, but doing it against a Bruins team that seems to be clicking on all cylinders right now may be more than the Flyers can handle. That’s particularly true when goalie Tim Thomas
, who is now 7-3 with a 2.13 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in the playoffs, is playing at the level he’s at. The Flyers have scored just three goals on 92 shots over the past two games.
"They are a hard team to play against at any time," Richards said. "They play the same system, I think, in any scenario and we've had our opportunities and have had our chances.
"It's not a will thing or anything like that, it's something I think we just have to find as a group. We have some goal scorers on this team with great skill. Guys who can make plays but we just have to find it and play better defense, that's the bottom line."
In addition to getting production from all four lines in this series, the Bruins completely dominated the faceoff circle on Wednesday, winning 43 of 55 draws. Patrice Bergeron
led the attack, going 17 of 19 (89 percent).
"They got a good faceoff team," Richards said. "We'll have to do a better job as a group. The centermen to start and then the wingers must come into the play. The defense has to help out as well. Faceoffs are more than one guy."
While the end result wasn't a good one for coach Peter Laviolette
, he was pleased with the play of center Jeff Carter
, who returned to action for the first time since Game 4 against the Sabres.
"I actually thought Jeff was probably one of our stronger forwards," Laviolette said. "You know, for not coming back for five games, he had his legs. He's a big person in there and a big body and he can skate well. As the game wore on, it seemed like we were lacking speed as a group out there, but where it's more natural for him, it's easier for him to stand out at that and he had a couple scoring chances."
Carter earned 16:41 of ice time and generated five shots on goal. He also won 2-of-6 faceoffs. The Flyers were a collective 12-for-45 on faceoffs against the Bruins.
"I felt all right out there but, in a game like this, nothing can make anything feel good," Carter said.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale