Poised Penguins upend Flyers in Game 3
The Philadelphia Flyers put up a stern fight, but find themselves facing playoff elimination following a 4-1 loss to the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final at the Wachovia Center on Tuesday night.
Marian Hossa scored two goals and Sidney Crosby had two assists, while Ryan Whitney and Ryan Malone completed the scoring for the second-seeded Penguins, who lead the best-of-seven series 3-0.
Pittsburgh posted identical 4-2 wins in the first two meetings at Mellon Arena.
"They're on a roll," Flyers head coach John Stevens said. "We're getting outplayed right now and we have to dig in."
R.J. Umberger tallied the lone goal for the sixth-ranked Flyers, who were missing defencemen Braydon Coburn (facial injuries) and Kimmo Timonen (blood clot).
"We didn't give them a ton of scoring chances," Crosby told CBC Sports.
"They're committed defensively right now," Stevens said. "Everyone talks about their offence, but they're really committed defensively."
Pittsburgh was forced to scratch forward Gary Roberts, reportedly with pneumonia, but Brooks Orpik and Petr Sykora shook off flu-like symptoms to skate their regular shifts.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 17 saves, including a pair of key stops on Flyers forward Jeff Carter in the second period.
"He was solid for us all night long," Crosby said.
Whitney put Pittsburgh ahead 5:03 into the contest, scoring his first goal of the playoffs on a wrist shot that banked off Flyers captain Jason Smith and the stick of Flyers goaltender Martin Biron, who was caught leaning in the net.
Hossa scored his seventh goal on a splendid rush 7:41 into the first period, stickhandling around Carter and swiftly firing a shot between the legs of Flyers defenceman Lasse Kukkoen and behind Biron.
"We knew they would come out hard," Fleury said. "The two quick goals took some pressure off and helped us relax a little."
Philadelphia replied at the 10:59 mark as Vaclav Prospal circled the net for a wraparound attempt and, instead, slid the puck into the slot for Umberger, who buried his team-high 10th goal.
"They play really well with the lead," Stevens said. "You play into their hands right now when you give them the lead."
Fleury stood firm in the second period as he took Carter's shot off the chest protector seven minutes in and foiled the sniper on a similar shot later in the stanza.
Fleury received a little defensive support from a diving Sergei Gonchar, who poked the puck off the stick of Mike Richards on a short-handed breakaway midway through the second.
"We're more known for our offensive attack and the star players we have," Fleury said. "But since the start of the playoffs, the players are really committed defensively."
After a spinning Sykora fed Malone in the slot for his fourth goal with 10:02 left in the third period, Hossa completed the scoring with an empty-netter with 54 seconds remaining.
"Top to bottom, a great team effort," Malone said. "We tried to keep it as simple as possible."
The Penguins reached the conference final in 2001, but haven't competed in the championship final since capturing back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992.
"We have got a long way to go," Malone said. "The next game will be the most difficult, so we need to dial it up a notch."
Game 4 goes Thursday at Philadelphia (CBC, 7:30 p.m. ET).
With files from the Canadian Press