PHILADELPHIA -- The last one took five overtimes. This one didn't take five minutes.
Andy Delmore, whose game-winning goal started Philadelphia's comeback from a 2-0 series deficit, tied a playoff record for a defenseman with three goals as the Flyers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3 Sunday for a 3-2 lead in Eastern Conference semifinals.
Mark Recchi had a goal and four assists and the Flyers fed off the momentum created by winning the third-longest game in NHL history -- and the fans who could barely wait until Sunday to celebrate it.
The Flyers, clearly revved up by their historic 2-1, five-overtime victory in Game 4 Thursday night -- the NHL's longest in 64 years -- scored Sunday in the opening minute of the first two periods. They owned a 3-0 lead with 16 seconds gone in the second period.
''It's all about confidence, and that's what winning the (five-overtime) game did for us,'' said Daymond Langkow, who scored with 23 seconds gone as the Flyers needed only 3:27 to open a 2-0 lead.
Recchi had only one goal in the Flyers' first nine playoff games, but said, ''Everything was going in today. It was a huge start for us. We wanted to show them that we had a lot of energy even after the long game, and we were going to make it difficult for them.''
The road team had won the first four games of the series. No team has won an NHL playoff series by winning four road games.
Recchi, a major contributor to the Penguins' 1991 Stanley Cup championship, had a hand in each of Philadelphia's first five goals, twice setting up Delmore, who had only two goals in 26 regular-season games.
Delmore, an undrafted rookie defenseman, has five goals in the series -- as many as NHL scoring champion Jaromir Jagr, who wasn't a factor for the second game in a row.
Jagr left early in the second period, apparently with a pulled left quadriceps muscle, as the seventh-seeded Penguins lost their third in a row after stunning the top-seeded Flyers in the first two games in Philadelphia. Jagr estimates he has a 90-percent chance of playing Game 6 Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
''It was hard to come back after the last game. It was tough on everyone,'' said Jagr, who won the scoring title despite missing a quarter of the season with various injuries.
The Penguins talked beforehand of getting off to a quick start to prove there was no carryover effect from the Flyers' middle-of-the-night victory that ended at 2:35 a.m. Friday. Instead, it was Philadelphia that came out flying.
The Flyers got a breakaway on their first shift, with Langkow steering in a backhander from the hashmarks along the right circle by goaltender Ron Tugnutt pass with 23 seconds gone.
TV replays appeared to show the puck glancing off Recchi's skate while he was offside, but, even if the goal shouldn't have counted, the Flyers had plenty more of them left.
Tugnutt, obviously flustered by giving up a quick goal after making saves on 70 of the Flyers' first 71 shots in Game 4, was beaten again at 3:27 by Delmore on a slap shot from the right point on a power play.
''That goal was like a Phil Niekro knuckler,'' said Tugnutt, who began the game with the best save percentage in the playoffs but was pulled after two periods.
Defenseman Dan McGillis said, ''We got to him (Tugnutt) pretty early and the first goal might have shaken him up. Maybe the first two goals did take jump out of them.''
The Flyers also scored in the opening seconds of the second period as Dan McGillis one-timed Recchi's pass by Tugnutt with 16 seconds gone.
''We couldn't recover in just 48 hours from Game 4, that was just a marathon, so we took short shifts all day, and that was a key,'' McGillis said.
Delmore also scored at 17:50 of the second, skating down the slot to take John LeClair's pass and flip it over Tugnutt, and added his third of the game at 5:17 of the third against backup goaltender Peter Skudra.
Recchi added a power-play goal in the second period, the Flyers' third goal in a span of four power plays after they started the series 0-for-17 with the man advantage.
''The goal in overtime the other night (in Game 3) was the highlight of my career so far,'' Delmore said. ''When the third one went in today, that's a great feeling, too. There aren't words to describe how I felt.''
Defensemen scored four of the Flyers' six goals, and Tugnutt said it's not a coincidence.
''Their best offense is their defensemen jumping into the play,'' he said.
Tyler Wright's goal at 15:06 of the second ended a scoreless streak of 184 minutes, 45 seconds by Flyers rookie goaltender Brian Boucher, who turned aside 29 of 32 shots. Darius Kasparaitis and Rob Brown also scored for Pittsburgh.
Stars 4, Sharks 1
DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars are going into the Western Conference finals on quite a roll.
Joe Nieuwendyk scored the winning goal for a second consecutive game and Dallas got power-play goals 41 seconds apart in the third period to beat San Jose 4-1 Sunday night, eliminating the Sharks in five games.
The Stanley Cup champions advanced to a rematch of last year's Western Conference finals against the Colorado Avalanche. The first two games will be in Dallas; the league is expected to release a schedule Monday.
The Stars have won their last eight postseason games in Reunion Arena, with Ed Belfour posting shutouts in four of them. He came within 11:28 of a fifth, instead settling for a home scoreless streak of 187 minutes, 25 seconds.
Dallas, playing in its third straight conference finals, has a knack for closing out playoff series. This was the sixth straight time the Stars eliminated a team on their first chance.
San Jose -- which played without Owen Nolan, its leading scorer, or Bryan Marchment, its most physical defenseman -- wasn't able to defend like it did in a 2-1 victory in Game 3. And it wasn't able to force the high tempo of Dallas' 5-4 victory in Game 4.
The Stars jumped ahead midway through the first period when Nieuwendyk made a nice move in front of the net to beat goalie Steve Shields. Three minutes later, Scott Thornton sneaked up from behind the net and scooped in a shot, and Dallas was clearly in control.
At least Belfour was. He maintained the lead by knocking away a great scoring chance by Vincent Damphousse in the closing seconds of the first period. Belfour made several nice stops on a second-period power play, and minutes later stopped a shot from Jeff Friesen while sprawled on his side. He made another stop from his stomach in the third period.
San Jose's frustration began to show early in the final period when penalties for tripping and slashing within 1:18 gave Dallas a 5-on-3 advantage.
Shields made two nice stops on one flurry, then turned away a blast from Brett Hull. But Hull got to his own rebound and fired again. The puck went off Shields and put the Stars up 3-0 with 15:58 left.
Sylvain Cote followed with his first goal of the postseason on a shot from the right point with 15:17 to play. The Sharks still had a man in the penalty box and another player was skating without his stick, making it virtually another 5-on-3.
With fans chanting ''The cup stays here,'' the only drama left was whether Belfour would keep the Sharks scoreless in three games at Reunion.
That hope ended when Patrick Marleau squeezed the puck by Belfour during a power play. It was his first goal of the playoffs.
Belfour finished with 32 saves; Shields made 26.
© 2018. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us