Flyers hold on to top Penguins
Penguins Sidney Crosby during the National Anthem at the Wachovia Arena.
Penguins fan Kyle Stunkard, center, waves his towel as they watch the game via the jumbotron on the lawn at Mellon Arena.
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury just gets a piece of the puck on Flyers Scott Hartnell.
Flyers Joffrey Lupel, against the glass, celebrates his first-period goal.
Penguins Ryan Malone is knocked to the ice by the Flyers Vaclav Prospal.
Penguins coach Michel Therrien walks with his head down after the Flyers score their third goal.
Penguins Ryan Malone tries to tip the puck in past Flyers goalie Martin Biron.
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury makes a save on Flyers Danny Briere.
Penguins Jordan Staal celebrates his second goal of the third period.
Flyers goalie Martin Biron stops Sidney Crosby.
Erin Kolenda, center, and other Penguins fans feel the pain.
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PHILADELPHIA -- The Penguins insist they expected the urgency they saw from Philadelphia last night.
The Flyers' physical play didn't catch them off-guard, either.
And they were prepared for Philadelphia to compete ferociously for every loose puck.
And maybe the Penguins were ready for all of that. It just didn't look it for the first 20 minutes of their 4-2 loss to the Flyers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final at the Wachovia Center last night.
"You have to give them credit," Penguins forward Max Talbot said. "They came at us hard. They played really, really desperate. When they play like that, they're not an easy team to play against."
It showed and is why the series isn't over.
But even though the Flyers kept their season on life-support, the Penguins lead the series, 3-1, and can earn their first berth in the Stanley Cup final since 1992 by winning Game 5 Sunday at Mellon Arena.
"We want to play well there," Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. "We want to finish it off."
About 2,000 tickets for Game 5 will go on sale today at 2 p.m. at the usual outlets.
Precisely what the Flyers' lineup for that game will look like isn't clear. Coach John Stevens allowed that defensemen Kimmo Timonen, who hasn't played in the series because of a blood clot, and/or Braydon Coburn, who has missed the past two games after being struck near the left eye with a puck, might dress for Game 5.
"Is there a chance?" Stevens said. "I think there is, either or both. The first thing is you have to make sure of the health of the player here, and we're not going to put anybody at risk.
"If they're not able to go, we'll keep marching ahead like we are. But, if we're able to get one or both back, it would be a huge lift for our team."
Adding Timonen or Coburn would be a major plus for the Flyers' special teams, which provided Philadelphia's margin of victory last night. Philadelphia was 2 for 4 with the extra man, the Penguins 0 for 3.
"You can't win games if you lose the battle of special teams," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said.
He added a not-so-subtle dig at the officiating after noting that Stevens had gone public with complaints about the referees' work after Game 2.
"I've got to give a lot of credit to [the Flyers]," he said. "They seem to be really disciplined, because we don't have a power play."
The Flyers are trying to become the third team in NHL history to recover from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series.
Precedent suggests they aren't likely to pull off such a comeback, but Philadelphia earned a minor distinction last night. This was the sixth time the Flyers have lost the first three games of a series, but the first time they avoided a sweep.
Flyers winger Joffrey Lupul opened the scoring at 8:27 of the first period, when he took a slap shot from above the right circle. Penguins defenseman Hal Gill tried to block it with his stick, but the puck deflected off his blade and sailed past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Daniel Briere, a non-factor in the first three games, made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 11:48, as he knocked a Randy Jones rebound past Fleury while falling to the ice in front of the net.
That gave the Flyers their first multiple-goal lead of the series, but they weren't finished, getting another man-advantage score at 18:50 when Jeff Carter corralled a rebound near the crease and pulled it onto his backhand before flipping it by Fleury.
"They're a very good penalty-killing team, and sometimes you don't score on the initial shot, but you create secondary chances at the net," Stevens said.
The Penguins didn't wilt -- "I don't think we're a team that panics when we don't have the lead," Crosby said. "We really believed we could come back" -- and had an edge in play for much of the final two periods.
"We started playing Penguin hockey," Talbot said.
That led to a pair of third-period goals by Jordan Staal, but the Penguins couldn't get the one they needed to force overtime, so they will try again to close out the series Sunday. And, again, they know what to expect from Philadelphia.
"They're going to come," Talbot said. "They're going to be desperate, as much as they were tonight."
First Published May 16, 2008 12:00 am