Goals and fights galore as Flyers take 3-0 series lead

Posted: April 15, 2012

In a penalty-filled shootout that sometimes resembled a pickup men's league matchup, the Flyers took a stunning stranglehold in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday afternoon.

Danny Briere, Max Talbot and rookie Matt Read scored two goals apiece as the Flyers overwhelmed the Penguins, 8-4, before a roaring sellout crowd at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers took a 3-0 series lead against the Penguins - whom Las Vegas oddsmakers had made the Stanley Cup favorites - and can wrap up the series at home on Wednesday night.

In playoffs in which they have had a 3-0 series lead, the Flyers are 10-0.

Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzglaov was not sharp, but his counterpart, Marc-Andre Fleury, was even worse.

Fleury allowed six goals in two periods before being replaced by Brent Johnston.

In three games, the Flyers have scored a staggering 20 goals, including an empty-netter. That topped their three-game playoff record of 15 goals. In fact, they had never scored more than 18 goals in a four-game series in franchise history.

After several scrums with 4:42 left - including Brayden Schenn and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, and Jakub Voracek and the Penguins' Evgeni Malin - the fans erupted in chants of "You can't beat us!"

Shortly after those scuffles, Scott Hartnell and Craig Adams fought in the main event.

Winger Wayne Simmonds scored on a breakaway with 36 seconds left in the second period, restoring the Flyers' two-goal lead. Simmonds scored the power-play goal on a backhander, giving the hosts a 6-4 lead.

Pittsburgh's James Neal and Read had exchanged power-play goals earlier in the second period. The Penguins then drew to within 5-4 as Jordan Staal scored on a rebound - after Bryzgalov allowed a shot to dribble through his pads - with 3:52 remaining in the second.

Claude Giroux, converting a one-handed pass by Jaromir Jagr (three assists) made it 7-4 after 27 seconds of the third period. That gave him a "Gordie Howe hat trick" - a goal, an assist and a fight.

Earlier, in a first period that included fights, cheapshots and awful goaltending from Fleury, the Flyers got two goals from Briere and built a 4-2 lead.

Each team's top defenseman - Kimmo Timonen and the Penguins' Kris Letang - received a game misconduct in the period. Letang beat Timonen in a fight, a few seconds after Giroux and Sidney Crosby exchanged punches.

Crosby started a wild melee by tapping away Voracek's glove as the Flyers' winger was about to pick it up off the ice.

The Flyers outshot the Penguins, 19-12, in the first 20 minutes. Pittsburgh had an 8-3 shots edge early and took a 1-0 lead on Staal's goal after 3:52.

But Talbot tied it with a shorthanded goal, tapping a soft shot past Fleury, who flubbed a glove attempt along the ice. It was the Flyers' third shorthanded goal in the last two games.

Late in the period, former Flyer Arron Asham was given a five-minute major as he cross-checked Schenn and punched him as he lay prone on the ice. Schenn returned to the game but played sparingly in the second period.

The Flyers won the first two games in Pittsburgh.

"When it comes to raising the roof," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said on Saturday, I" hope the whole building shakes."

It did.

Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com or on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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