NHL: Flyers 4, Penguins 2
PHILADELPHIA ó The Pittsburgh Penguins’ road to the Stanley Cup finals along the Pennsylvania Turnpike took an unexpected detour.
The smooth ride through 12 playoff games got a bit bumpier when the Philadelphia Flyers staved off elimination from the Eastern Conference finals with a 4-2 victory Thursday night, forcing a Game 5 in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Just as they did after taking a 3-0 lead over the New York Rangers in the second round, the Penguins were beaten on the road in Game 4. Pittsburgh wrapped up that series at home in its next chance, shaking off its only other loss in the playoffs (11-2).
The Flyers followed the lead set Wednesday by the Dallas Stars, who stayed alive in the Western Conference finals by avoiding a sweep at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings.
This is all new for Philadelphia, which had been swept the five other times it trailed 3-0.
The Penguins are 7-0 in the playoffs at home and have won 15 straight. They defeated the Flyers 4-2 there in the first two games of the series.
Only two NHL teams have recovered from an 0-3 deficit to win, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New York Islanders, who rallied to beat the Penguins. Pittsburgh has led all three series this year 3-0, including a first-round sweep of Ottawa.
Joffrey Lupul got things going for the Flyers 8:27 in, and Danny Briere and Jeff Carter scored Philadelphia’s second and third power-play goals of the series 7:02 apart to make it 3-0 in the first period.
Martin Biron showed the form that backstopped series wins over Washington and top-seeded Montreal in making 36 saves. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 30 shots for the Penguins.
Jordan Staal, who returned to the Penguins following a one-day absence after the death of his grandfather, spoiled Biron’s shutout bid with 16:44 left. He scored again with 5:49 remaining to transform Wachovia Center from joyous to nervous.
Lupul calmed the fears with an empty-net goal with 32.3 seconds left.
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