If anything else, the Pens and Flyers knew that the Wachovia Center was going to be as loud as ever. If you happened to watch the first period of this hockey game, quickly did you realize how raucous and passionate the Philly fans are about their hockey team.
The Flyers have been saying since Game 2 that their home fans were going to give them the emotional boost that they have been looking for. The Flyers fans provided the energy, and the Flyers sure answered back ten-fold.
The first period was as close to old-time Flyers hockey as you might see for the rest of the 2009 playoffs. After the fighting pursued, the crowd was fired up and with the new fueled atmosphere, the Flyers took control when they needed to.
Jeff Carter and captain Mike Richards netted their first goals of the postseason in the first period. That was the start that the Flyers desparatly needed. They established the intensity early and often to dominate the opening 20 minutes.
Today was a statement game for forward Claude Giroux, who played basically invincible. He sparkled the crowd and his teammates with a dazzling Peter Forsberg-esque pass across the goal mount to a waiting Simon Gagne who just tapped in a shorthanded goal, the first of his two goals on the day.
Also, in the case of Giroux, the scrum he got in to with the Pens Tyler Kennedy was impressive and got even better when Darroll Powe v Kris Letang broke out shortly after.
Giroux, who was playing this game as if it was a make-up from what he had done on Friday. He was called for a slashing penalty in overtime, which ultimately cost the Flyers Game 2.
Captain Mike Richards played the exact way you would want your leader to play in a big-game situation. Richards had a goal in the first but was more valuable all over the ice for the entire game. In all facets of the contest, you thought you were seeing the No. 18 in all of them.
"It was a huge game. We didn't want to go down 3-0 because that's a tough task," Flyers Danny Briere said. "We have to enjoy it for a few minutes here."
Marty Biron stopped 26 Penguins shots and played spectacular. He played the way the team expected him to. Biron kept the Flyers in the game throughout.
"It was more than another game for us today, coming back home in the hole that we were in," Biron said. You saw the desperation that carried on through the game. The emotion was definitely there and that's the way we've been successful all year."
Jared Ross, the late call-up to the postseason roster scored his first career playoff goal in the third period to put the Flyers up 5-2. Simon Gagne later added an empty-net goal with a little over 90 seconds to go in regulation.
“I’ve been dreaming of this since I was a kid. Just to be able to go out there and do that, pitch in and give us a bit of a cushion on the lead, it felt great," Ross said after the game.
Richards spoke about how everyone stepped up including young stars such as Darrol Powe and Claude Giroux.
“All year, it’s been the same thing,” said Mike Richards. “People go down, people step up. Powe’s done a great job all year on PK. G’s (Giroux) hockey sense is incredible. Just to see him find different players on the ice and make great passes. He’s been incredible all year. Everyone stepped up.”
Coach John Stevens knew this was an all imortant game, the momentum had to be matched and then multiplied by the Flyers. They had for almost the entire game and Stevens recognized that.
“I thought our guys responded very well. We were able to keep our emotions in check for the most part. Any time you give up a lead like that and get it back, I thought it was a really good sign for our team,” Stevens added.
“We have got one game and now we have to leave it behind and get ready for the next game because it seems like each game gets tougher and we certainly can’t rest on that game."
The Flyers will now prepare for Game 3 this Tuesday from the Wachovia Center. The Flyers will try and even up the series before heading back to Pittsburgh.
Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin led the Pens with two goals. The Pens are still hoping that Sidney Crosby can catch fire before its too late. The Flyers are shutting the star down so far and will hope to continue that same sceme.
Some Quotes: Tim Panacchio
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