Special teams fuel another Flyers rally
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It was a wild game with goals scored every which way -- and one in which the winning goal came from perceived villain Jaromir Jagr, a former Penguins star, and three more goals each came from rookie Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux.
But the Philadelphia Flyers' 8-5 victory against the Penguins Friday night at Consol Energy Center -- which gave them a 2-0 stranglehold in this Eastern Conference first-round series heading home for the next two games -- was built largely on their special teams.
The Flyers got a power-play goal and two short-handed goals over the first 32 minutes to help them dig out of yet another 2-0 deficit against the Penguins.
"We all know in the playoffs it's a big part in [whether it's] a win or loss," said former Penguins winger Max Talbot, who had a short-handed goal on a rebound of a shot by Giroux. "Special teams were good. They made a difference."
The Flyers closed to within 2-1 at 12:44 of the first period on Talbot's short-handed goal after Penguins center and captain Sidney Crosby -- on the second power-play unit -- turned the puck over. Talbot scored on a rebound, producing boos from a crowd that used to adore him.
"We put pressure [on them]," Talbot said. "I blocked a pass. Claude's got a lot of speed. He drove the net.
"You don't know whether it's going to be in the back of the net or it's going to be a rebound with Claude. I was lucky enough to be in the right place."
Philadelphia pulled within 3-2 with a power-play goal at 5:11 of the second. Giroux, who finished with six points, scored from inside the right dot off of a feed from Jakub Voracek.
Giroux struck again at 11:04 of the second with a short-handed goal set up by Talbot to make it 3-3.
It was the first time the Flyers scored two short-handed goals in the postseason since they did it April 26, 1997, in a 6-3 victory against the Penguins in the first round.
"We had a couple of [short-handed] goals that were big," Giroux said. "But they had too many power plays. We have to find a way to be more disciplined, but at the same time be physical against them."
The special-teams goals came after Philadelphia fell behind, 2-0, for the fifth time in a row against the Penguins. They have won four of those, losing only in a meaningless regular-season finale.
"I don't know how many times we'll be able to do comebacks like that, but we've got to find a way to have a better start," Giroux said. "I don't know what we've got to do, but we've got to switch it up. We can't put ourselves in a situation like that. It's unacceptable, and everybody knows it."
The Penguins were 2 for 4 on their power play, while the Flyers had just two power plays.
In their 4-3 comeback overtime win in Game 1, the Flyers killed all three Penguins power plays and scored on their only power play.
The Penguins responded by making a significant change on their top power-play unit, taking Sidney Crosby off of it in favor of putting Kris Letang on the point opposite Steve Sullivan.
Talbot's short-handed goal came against the second unit that included Crosby. Giroux's short-handed goal came on a blend of the first and second units.
"Fighting back like that's not easy, but the players were so resilient it was unbelievable," Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette said.
First Published April 14, 2012 12:45 am