PITTSBURGH (AP) — Peter Laviolette's speech was well rehearsed, nothing the Philadelphia Flyers haven't heard a dozen times this season, if not more.
His team facing a three-goal deficit after the first 20 minutes of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Laviolette trotted out the same message that's become rote during the last three months.
Hang in there, Laviolette told his players. Get back to playing your game. Keep skating — actually, start skating — and good things will happen.
Laviolette didn't smash a stick to make his point. He knows that's no longer required.
Of course, it'd be nice if his players would let him take a night off from making the speech by not waiting until they're trailing to get it together. Still, the Flyers will take their stunning 4-3 rally in Game 1 over the alternative, which they fear is coming if they don't solve their first-period issues in Game 2 on Friday night.
"I think we've got to play that desperate hockey when it's 0-0 when the puck drops," forward Scott Hartnell said. "You can't win too many of these games. We've been getting lucky."
The comeback was nothing new for the Flyers, who won 20 games this season when the opposing team scored the first goal, the most in the NHL. They've become particularly adept at doing it against the Penguins.
The game marked the third time in the last month Philadelphia has spotted Pittsburgh at least two goals then roared back to win, yet the Penguins tried to remain upbeat after ceding home-ice advantage with a stunning collapse.
"I think that's something we expected of them," Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. "They always come back. They always find a way to come back into games."
The Flyers did it on Wednesday by taking away the space Pittsburgh stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin prefer to operate in and nullifying the Penguins' power play. Pittsburgh had the man advantage twice in the second period and again early in the third period with a chance to add to its advantage, but couldn't muster much flow.
"I look at that situation as an opportunity for our power play to get a big goal, but momentum as well," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said.
Instead it was the Flyers who seized control, nearly scoring on a shorthanded breakaway that breathed some life into the bench. Danny Briere turned the breath into a full-blown rally halfway through the period with a breakaway goal to put Philadelphia on the board.
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