Determined Flyers beat Pens 3-0, force Game 6

April 23, 2009 7:12:23 PM PDT
The Philadelphia Flyers were determined not to be embarrassed, upstaged and outworked in a Game 5 in Pittsburgh, not this season. Their desperation paid off with a comeback victory in a series that looked to be lost. Arron Asham and Claude Giroux, role players on a team filled with goal scorers, got the first two goals and the Flyers avoided elimination by beating the Penguins 3-0 Thursday night to force Game 6 in the Eastern Conference first-round series.

After winning 2-1 in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, the Penguins were in position to finish off the Flyers in Game 5 on home ice for a second successive season, just as they did by winning 6-0 in the Eastern Conference finals last season.

Not so fast - and the Penguins weren't, their speed and skill negated by the Flyers' desperation and a clampdown defense led by goalie Martin Biron, who made 28 saves.

The Flyers still have a huge challenge, as they are 0-13 in series they trailed 3-1, and they haven't forced a Game 7 since losing to Edmonton in the 1987 Stanley Cup finals. But they can do that if they win Game 6 on Saturday in Philadelphia.

The Flyers managed to keep it scoreless despite being outshot 15-5 in the first period, then got the all-important first goal when their fourth line outworked the Penguins' Sidney Crosby-led first line for Asham's goal. They put it away when Giroux took advantage of another Pittsburgh mistake to score his second of the series early in the third period.

Marc-Andre Fleury, so strong in goal while making 45 saves in Game 4, couldn't save the Penguins in this one with their stars, Crosby and Malkin, shut down by the Flyers in a game that saved their season, at least for one more game.

The Penguins spent much of the first period pressing for the first goal that would have made their 110th consecutive sellout crowd even more of a factor, but couldn't get it despite taking the final eight shots of the period.

Instead, the Flyers did.

Bill Guerin tried to make a drop pass to Crosby as the Penguins' top line opposed the Flyers' No. 4 line, but Daniel Carcillo intercepted and fed the puck ahead to Asham for a slap shot just inside the blue line that eluded Fleury to the glove side at 6:32 of the second.

The Penguins felt they had tied it less than two minutes later on an Malkin rebound off Sergei Gonchar's slap shot from center point, but the goal was waved off because Malkin kicked the puck toward the net.

That might have been the break the Flyers needed to finally win in Mellon Arena, where they had lost their last five playoff games, and they took advantage of it to make it 2-0 when their third line scored. Penguins defenseman Philippe Boucher couldn't get the puck out of the Penguins' zone. Matt Carle gained possession and put a shot on net that deflected off Darroll Powe and to Giroux, who was open at the side of the net.

Carle also assisted on Mike Knuble's goal at 13:12 that sent many of the fans to the exits.

Notes: The Penguins made two lineup changes, playing F Miroslav Satan and Boucher and benching F Petr Sykora and D Kris Letang. Satan hadn't played for Pittsburgh since being sent to the minors March 4. ... Biron is 3-7 against Pittsburgh in playoff games. ... Of the 233 teams to trail 3-1 in an NHL playoff series, only 20 rallied to win. Pittsburgh lost a 3-1 lead when it won the first three games against the Islanders in 1975, then lost the next four.

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