Scoring first is usually the best way to win an NHL game. Someone has failed to get the message to the Philadelphia Flyers and their opponents during this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs.
For the seventh time in the Flyers' eight games, the team that scored first lost. Unfortunately for the Flyers, they opened the scoring against New Jersey on Tuesday, but went home with a 4-1 loss in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series.
The team that scored first lost all five games in the Flyers' first-round series against Pittsburgh before Philadelphia closed out the Penguins after scoring the first two goals of Game 6. The Devils scored first in the series-opener on Sunday, a 4-3 overtime loss, but dominated the Flyers in Game 2 after rookie Matt Read's early goal put the Flyers ahead.
During the regular season, teams that scored first went 827-239-159 (there were five games that went to a shootout without a goal through 65 minutes), a .675 winning percentage. In the playoffs, teams getting the first are 36-20 (.643) -- but take out the games involving the Flyers and first-goal scorers are 35-13 (.729). Philadelphia is 1-3-0 when scoring the first goal, but 4-0-0 when the other team opens the scoring.
The Flyers' success in overcoming early deficits in the playoffs are nothing new -- they tied for the League lead during the regular season with 20 victories when allowing the game's first goal, and their .435 winning percentage (20-22-4) was second to Pittsburgh's .437.
Shooting them down -- The Devils' margin of 35-20 in shots on goal Tuesday was impressive enough -- and it gets even more impressive if you bore down into the scoresheet a little bit.
New Jersey outshot the Flyers 22-11 after the opening period, including 12-2 in the second -- when Philadelphia was just 1:27 away from going without a shot for the first time in a playoff game. The Devils also finished the night with 70 attempted shots (35 on goal, 12 off-target and 23 that were blocked); Philadelphia attempted only 37 (20 on goal, five that missed the net and 12 that were blocked.
Those numbers are a huge turnaround from Game 1, when the Flyers overcame a slow start to finish with 71 shot attempts to 47 for the Devils.
Score four -- The Devils did something Tuesday night they had never done even in their three runs to the Stanley Cup -- score four goals in one period in a road game.
The Devils pumped three goals past Ilya Bryzgalov in the third period and added an empty-netter by Bryce Salvador after Philadelphia pulled the goaltender during a late power play for the first four-goal period on the road in franchise history.
Though it was a 150-footer that bounced and skittered before rolling into the empty net, the goal by Salvador was something he'll remember for a long time. The 36-year-old defenseman scored a goal for the first time in exactly 100 games -- since March 10, 2010, against the New York Rangers. His scoring drought in the playoffs is even longer -- Salvador hadn't scored in a Stanley Cup game since April 18, 2008, also against the Rangers.