These Flyers define resiliency

Posted: April 13, 2012

PITTSBURGH - Right next to the word resilient in your favorite online dictionary, there should be a team photo of the Flyers.

Re-sil-ient:Adj. Marked by the ability to recover. See the wildly entertaining hockey team from Philadelphia. Frequently falls behind. Frequently battles back to win. See first two games of the hard-to-believe Eastern Conference quarterfinals in Pittsburgh.

The Flyers fell behind the Penguins on Friday night, 2-0 and 3-1. They tied it at 4-4 in the closing seconds of the second period before allowing a goal 64 seconds into the third.

Just 17 seconds later, they tied it. Naturally.

When it was over and Sean Couturier's coming-out party had enabled the Flyers to stun the Penguins (again), 8-5, the visitors' horrible first period was a distant memory.

Still, the Flyers might make it easier on themselves - and prevent a lot of agita throughout the Philadelphia area - if they could avoid giving opponents a head start.

"We had two choices - quit or fight to the end," said goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, adding he's never been on a more resilient team.

"It's not a situation we want to be in," Couturier said of the early deficits. "But we did it all year. We can do it, but we gave to be ready off the bat next game."

Maybe coach Peter Laviolette should call his timeout at the 10-second mark to get the Flyers out of their early-game lethargy.

Or maybe the Flyers should load up on Maxwell House, Mountain Dew, and Red Bull before they skate onto the ice to start a game.

Clearly, they need to do something different, because, for a team that is among the NHL's elite, their starts have bordered on the ludicrous.

They got off to another nasty beginning Friday, but somehow survived and took a two-games-to-none lead.

In Game 1, the Flyers fell into a 3-0 first-period hole but, miraculously, rallied for a 4-3 overtime win.

"We're playing with fire," winger Scott Hartnell said about the slow starts.

On Friday, there were more flames. Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby scored 15 seconds after the opening face-off, marking the 12th time in the last 14 games the Flyers had surrendered the first goal.

It was the quickest goal the Flyers had ever allowed in a playoff game, topping a goal scored 21 seconds into a 1971 game by Chicago's Jim Pappin, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

A little over nine minutes after Crosy scored as he took advantage of Laviolette's quick line change, Chris Kunitz's power-play goal made it 2-0. If you're scoring at home, the Flyers have faced at least a 2-0 deficit in nine of their last 14 games.

"A recipe for disaster," defenseman Kimmo Timonen said the other day.

Or, in the Flyers' strange case, a recipe for a win.

Out of those nine games that have had a two-goal (or bigger) deficit, the Flyers have rallied to win four times - all against the Penguins.

In the first two games against the Penguins, the Flyers have been outscored by a combined 6-1 in the first period.

No wonder Mount Lavy - that would be Laviolette - erupted as he walked down the runway after the first period, screaming obscenities, according to a cameraman.

But, as had been their trademark, the Flyers didn't feel sorry for themselves after allowing a late first-period goal and falling into a 3-1 hole.

No matter. They eventually took a 6-5 lead as Jaromir Jagr scored on a spin-around shot after gathering a rebound with 10:47 seconds left in regulation.

Jagr is 40. Sean Couturier (three goals) is 19. Together they provided some late-game magic that made the ugly first period irrelevant.

As a result, the Flyers have started a series with two straight road wins for the second time in franchise history. They did it in 1997 in Buffalo, and they won that conference semifinal in five games.

Game 3 is Sunday. Flyers fans can only hope their team has to play catch-up.


Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com or

on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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