PITTSBURGH They wanted to intimidate the Penguins with their physical play. They wanted to get good matchups on Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.And the Flyers wanted a quick start on the road where they were the NHLs best this season with 25 victories.None of that happened on Wednesday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, yet the Flyers prevailed doing what they do best coming from behind with a 4-3 overtime victory.Jakub Voracek scored the game-winner at 2:23 with a deflection off Penguins defenseman Kris Letang that came to him in the slot.The Flyers had a frantic, dominating, third-period comeback to force overtime. Lifetime, the Flyers were 33-35 in playoff overtimes.They were down 3-0 Wednesday night, very much like two years ago in Boston during Game 7, yet stormed back to win.
Danny Briere, who has 98 points in 98 career playoff games, scored two goals. His second marker, approaching the midway point of the third period from the left circle past Marc-Andre Fleury, made it a nail biter at 3-2.At 10:41, the Flyers got their first power play of the night and rookie Brayden Schenn stunned the sold-out crowd with a tip-in goal from Scott Hartnell to tie the game, setting up yet another dramatic finish between these two bitter rivals.Through regulation, the Penguins were 0 for 3 on the power play, while the Flyers had one shot and one goal on one power play.All the talk about quick starts went to naught from the Flyers perspective as the Penguins buried them in the first period.You look at the Flyers first period versus the third and the difference was startling.We got to make sure Wednesday when the puck drops we drop our coffee and we're ready to go, Claude Giroux said on Tuesday.Well, when it dropped it was Pittsburgh that was ready to go.The Penguins really stretched the ice to open the game and scored twice on their first six shots against Ilya Bryzgalov, who was making his first start at Consol Energy Center as a Flyer.The biggest difference was transition. Everyone knows how fast the Pens are, but they were routinely beating the Flyers to loose pucks to get rushes up ice. Also, the Flyers twice got stuck with tired players on the ice because of forced icings.Crosby had a brilliant opening goal at 3:43. Letangs point drive went off Pascal Dupuis in the crease, and Crosby beat defenseman Nicklas Grossmann to the rebound, lifting it high over Bryzgalovs glove hand just under the cross bar.Dupuis finished the regular season with the longest point streak in the NHL, at 17 games. He picked up on that to start the series.Four minutes later, the Pens made it 2-0 as Letang got to a loose puck in the Flyers end and caught Jordan Staal in full stride up the right side two-on-one against Andreas Lilja.Tyler Kennedy buried Staals pass across the slot. With the building erupting at that point, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette burned his timeout (7:49) to settle things down.Pittsburgh was 23-2-3 this season when Letang registered a point. He had two in the first period alone.Pittsburgh had far too many open looks on Bryzgalov that period, while the Flyers managed just one a Jaromir Jagr breakaway where the Czech winger appeared to shoot it off Fleury wide of net.In the final 36.9 seconds, Steve Sullivan blindly backhanded a puck into the crease off Bryzgalov, who didnt realize it was there. Dupuis saw it and knocked it out of the air into the net.The Flyers appeared to be toast. But how many times have they looked done this season and come back to win?The second period began ominously with Claude Giroux picking up a rare boarding call. When the penalty ended, he sprang from the box and set up Scott Hartnell off the rush, but Fleury made a key stop.
Before the period was over, he had another key save in the slot on Voracek.A minute after the Hartnell save, Schenn broke up a Pens rush and rifled a pass up the middle to Briere, a guy the Flyers have relied heavily upon in past postseasons.
Briere streaked in on Fleury, got him to go down, then wristed the puck over him at 6:22 for the Flyers first goal of the series.Replays showed Briere was offsides.Alas, it does not make up for Leon Stickles missed call to the Flyers in Game 6 against the Islanders in 1980.Though the Flyers had a much stronger middle period, they continued to be outshot, 23-13, after 40 minutes.Laviolette liked what he saw from Brieres unit and double-shifted them much of the time, going up against Crosbys line.Pittsburgh came into the game having won 28 of its previous 29 games when leading after two periods.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at firstname.lastname@example.org.