Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux each scored three goals and the Philadelphia Flyers rallied for a wild 8-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Giroux added three assists for Philadelphia, and former Penguins Max Talbot and Jaromir Jagr also scored to help the Flyers take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Game 3 is Sunday in Philadelphia.
Ilya Bryzgalov overcame another shaky start to stop 23 shots for the Flyers, who rallied from a pair of early two-goal deficits.
Chris Kunitz had two goals for Pittsburgh, and Sidney Crosby and Tyler Kennedy scored for the second straight game, but the Penguins failed to close out the Flyers for the second time in three days.
The game mirrored Philadelphia’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 on Wednesday night. Pittsburgh raced to a 3-0 lead in that one only to succumb on Jakub Voracek’s goal less than 3 minutes into the extra session.
The Penguins tried to downplay their collapse in the opener, insisting there was plenty of hockey to play.
Maybe, but there might not be much left after another stirring comeback by the Flyers. Philadelphia is 17-0 when it wins the first two games of a series.
The Flyers stressed the importance of getting off to better starts after their Game 1 escape, saying they know they can’t afford to keep spotting the high-powered Penguins a big lead.
In the end, it didn’t matter.
Pittsburgh led 2-0, 3-1, 4-3 and 5-4 but it still wasn’t enough.
Kennedy’s goal early in the third period that put the Penguins up 5-4 appeared to give the Penguins the big goal they desperately needed.
Instead Couturier scored 17 seconds later to tie it again, and Jagr put the Flyers in front for the first time with less than 11 minutes to go. Couturier netted the clincher with 1:49 remaining before Giroux capped his six-point night with an empty-net goal.
The ending was in stark contrast to another electric start by the Penguins.
Crosby needed all of 15 seconds to give Pittsburgh the lead, working a give-and-go off the opening faceoff with Steve Sullivan and ripping a one-timer by Bryzgalov. The goal tied Pittsburgh’s franchise mark for fastest goal to start a playoff game, set by Greg Malone against St. Louis in 1981. It also was the quickest allowed by Philadelphia opponent in playoff history, breaking the mark of 21 seconds set by Chicago’s Jim Pappin in 1971.
It failed to wake up the Flyers and the Penguins pushed the lead to 2-0 thanks to a reconstituted power play. Pittsburgh went 0 for 3 with the man advantage in the opener, so coach Dan Bylsma took Crosby off the top power-play line and inserted Sullivan.
The group needed less than a minute to score, with Kunitz tapping in a pass from James Neal to give the Penguins an early two-goal lead for the second straight game and the fourth time in the last five meetings between the teams.
Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette burned his timeout to give his team a now well-worn wakeup call. And as usual, it provided immediate results.
Crosby’s turnover turned into a short-handed breakaway for Giroux. Marc-Andre Fleury made the initial save, but Talbot — a key cog of Pittsburgh’s 2009 Stanley Cup run — knocked in the rebound.
The Penguins, unlike Game 1 when the Flyers scored the final four goals, responded.
Crosby’s deft drop pass to Martin turned into the defenceman’s third career playoff goal and first in four years.
And just like Wednesday, a three-goal first period wasn’t nearly enough.
The Flyers rallied to tie it at 3 behind Giroux, who scored on the power play, then beat Fleury with a wrist shot for Philadelphia’s second short-handed goal of the night.
The tie lasted all of 6 seconds, or as long as it took Kunitz to pounce on a rebound and slide the puck into the open net.
Still, the Flyers wouldn’t back down. Couturier tied it at 4 just before the second intermission horn, erasing all of Pittsburgh’s momentum and setting the stage for another victory by the NHL’s most resilient team.
NOTES: Philadelphia defenceman Marc-Andre Bourdon was scratched after sustaining an upper-body injury in Game 1. … The Penguins scratched defenceman Matt Niskanen because of an upper-body injury. … Viewership for the first two days of the playoffs is up 22 per cent over 2011, according to the NHL. … Crosby’s goal was the 32nd playoff tally of his career, tying him with Ron Francis for fourth on Pittsburgh’s list. … Bylsma has coached in 46 playoff games, tying Eddie Johnston for most post-season games in franchise history.