In the end, the Flyers were scary good

Posted: April 12, 2012

PITTSBURGH - Outside the arena, a Pittsburgh fan dressed in a white bear costume mocked Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov's fears. This was about an hour before Wednesday's wild playoff opener between the hated, intra-state rivals.

"Bryz: Welcome to the Woods!" said the sign that the Bryzly, uh, grizzly bear, was holding.

The sign was in reference to Bryzgalov saying the other day he didn't fear the Penguins and didn't fear anything except bears in the woods.

For the first two periods of Wednesday's overtime thriller, the Penguins played the role of bears.

And then Danny Briere, Brayden Schenn and the rest of the Flyers made the bears take a fit in the woods.

The Flyers overcame a 3-0 first-period deficit and stunned Pittsburgh, 4-3, in the opener of the Pennsylvania Cold War series at the Consol Energy Center. Jakub Voracek scored the winner after 2 minutes, 23 seconds of overtime, silencing the stunned sellout crowd.

Considering how the game began, it was one of the most amazing playoff wins in the Flyers' playoff history.

Maybe Bryzgalov should have added another fear to his list: Slow starts.

For the umpteenth time this season, the Flyers fell into an early hole.

And for the umpteenth time, they made a gritty comeback.

Pittsburgh bolted to a 3-0 first-period lead, only to see Danny and the Juniors - that would be Briere and his young teammates - rally to tie the score at 3-3 in the third period.

Briere, who had missed the last three regular-season games because of back spasms, scored two goals, and 20-year-old rookie Brayden Schenn tied it with a power-play tally with 9:19 left in regulation.

For the Flyers, the slow starts border on the ridiculous. Consider:

They allowed the first goal for the 11th time in the last 13 games.

They fell into at least a 2-0 hole for the eighth time in the last 13 games.

They have failed to lead after the first 10 minutes in 52 of the last 56 games.

Et cetera, et cetera.

Two of the Penguins' early goals were scored while the Flyers had their shutdown defensive pair on the ice: Nick Grossmann, who is trying to get back into a rhythm after missing the final three regular-season games because of a knee injury, and Braydon Coburn.

Trailing 3-0, the Flyers staged one of their trademark comebacks.

Fittingly, it was Mr. Post-Season, Briere, who re-energized the Flyers.

Briere took a great feed from Schenn and scored on a breakaway with 13:38 left in the second period.

"He's a difference-maker," coach Peter Laviolette said before the game. "The bigger  the circumstances, the bigger the performance. Since I've been here, that's my take on Danny. Give him something to thrive in, and he thrives."

Midway through the third period, Briere cut it to 3-2, scoring from deep in the left circle. Sidney Crosby appeared to screen goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. That gave him 31 goals in 58 playoff games with the Flyers. In his career, he has 98 points in 98 playoff games.

Schenn tied it by redirecting Scott Hartnell's clever feed. Until the late barrage, Fleury had continued his playoff dominance against the Flyers.

Fleury made point-blank saves on Jaromir Jagr (breakaway), Hartnell and Voracek in the first two periods. He also made key stops on Andreas Lilja's rebound and Matt Carle's ticketed slot shot in the first nine minutes of the third period.

Since 2006-07, the Penguins had been 28-1 when leading playoffs games after two periods.

That was before they got lost in the woods.

Here is Inquirer staff writer Sam Carchidi's take on the key to the game:

Brayden Schenn's power-play goal to tie the game with 7:37 left in regulation made the Flyers believe that the impossible was possible.

Contact Sam Carchidi at or on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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