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Flyers seek fast start in Game 5

by John McGourty /
PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette promised Saturday his team will come out flying in a bid to score the first goal in Game 5 Monday night at Boston in their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Bruins (7 p.m., Versus, TSN2, NESN, CSN-Philadelphia). The Flyers staved off elimination Friday night, winning 5-4 in overtime on Simon Gagne's goal.

The Flyers now trail the best-of-seven series, 3-1. Although he said on several occasions during the regular season that his team would try to "weather the storm" of a home team's first 10 minutes, Laviolette said in this situation, "I'd rather play the game and swing hard than sit back and watch them do their thing.

"We've got to play our game. I don't want to come out and not play or sit back. We've got to do to them what I think they'll probably try to do to us. If we can score in the first 10 minutes, that would be the objective, not to sit back and hope the score is 0-0."

Laviolette acknowledged his team faces a tough challenge. Only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders have come back to win a Stanley Cup Playoff series after trailing 3-0. He backed up his players' assertions Friday night that the pressure is now on the Bruins after they failed in their first bid to eliminate the Flyers

 "We played good games in Boston," said Laviolette. "They could have gone either way. We felt like we heavily out-chanced them in Game 3 but didn't get the result we were looking for. You find yourself down, 3-0, there aren't many teams that have come back from that. So, the pressure when you win a game, after one game it shifts a little bit to them because they're supposed to close the deal.

"The longer a series goes when you're up, and that's what the players were talking about, the more that becomes more of a burden."

Laviolette shortened his bench in overtime Friday night with defenseman Chris Pronger playing a high of 37 minutes and 33 seconds. Matt Carle (who had four assists), Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen all played more than 30 minutes and forwards Mike Richards, Danny Briere and Claude Giroux topped 24 minutes. Gagne played 16:25 after missing four games with a broken foot but he was rested from 11:44 of the third period until his scoring shift at 14:40 of overtime. Gagne came out firing with three shots in the first period and led the Flyers with seven shots.

Defenseman Ryan Parent, who has a back problem, was done at the 8:10 mark of the second period. His defensive partner, Lukas Krajicek, had only one 35-second shift in overtime. Feisty forward Dan Carcillo sat on the bench from the 18:46 mark of the second period. Laviolette referred reporters to GM Paul Holmgren regarding Carcillo's injury status.

Laviolette explained why he shortened his bench: "When you're in those circumstances, you need to get the guys out there that have played the majority of the game. Chris Pronger is a terrific defenseman and you want him out there as much as possible. ... Mattie Carle had a great game last night. So we had some defensemen who were on top of their game and they didn't seem to be getting fatigued. Boston was doing the same thing. Chara was out there every other shift. You have to get your best players out there.

"When you have two days off here too, that was in the back of our minds as well. If you can win the game with the players out there that you want, we've got two days off to recover. So Pronger's 37 minutes, he'll be more than ready to go Monday night."

Laviolette likes having an extra day between games. It have him the chance to give his players a complete day off from practices, meetings and video sessions and they'll have a spirited practice Sunday before traveling to Boston. But he doesn't think the extra day helps one team more than another.

"Not really. We've got guys that are playing minutes, they've got guys that are playing minutes," Laviolette said. "I find that when you wake up the next day, it's tough, more so if you've lost in overtime. Had we had to play the next game the next day, those days are always tougher."

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