For most of the night, the Pittsburgh Penguins looked like the better team. But it isn’t how you start, it’s how you finish. But after erasing a 3-0 deficit, Jakub Voracek’s goal 2:23 into overtime gave the Philadelphia Flyers a 4-3 victory in Game 1 in the Battle of Pennsylvannia.
The Flyers have a knack for falling behind early just to make things interesting late. From the drop of the puck, the Penguins flexed their muscle and showed off their depth, outworking the Flyers and out skating them to loose pucks.
That hardwork paid off, and the Penguins opened up a 2-0 lead less than eight minutes into the opening period on goals by Sidney Crosby and Tyler Kennedy. They stretched that lead to three in the final minute of the third on a goal by Pascal Dupuis, who continued his stellar play over the last six weeks.
But that’s all Ilya Bryzgalov would surrender. The Russian enigma stopped 15 shots the Penguins put his way, allowing his team the opportunity to get back into the game they were a step or two behind all night.
Danny Briere, who was a game-time decision, got the Flyers back to within one goal after a pair of tallies, the first coming on a controversial play. With 13:40 remaining in the second, Briere took a pass from Brayden Schenn and broke in alone and beat Marc-Andre Fleury. Replays showed Briere was actually offside, which should have prevented the play from happening altogether.
Schenn later tied the game with 7:37 remaining in the third period on the powerplay to cap off the comeback.
In the overtime, Voracek banged home a loose puck at Jordan Staal’s feet to send the Pittsburgh crowd at Consol Energy Center home disappointed.
“We got away from our game. That’s really what it was,” Crosby told Penguins.com. “We started great, had a lot of energy. Went hard at them. Then just slowly got away from things and let them get back into it.”
The series is far from over. The Flyers cannot rely on clawing back into games through the series. But a win like this could have a negative effect moving forward for the Penguins. If three goals isn’t enough to put a team away, what is? The Flyers have showed this season they’re more than capable of playing with and defeating the mighty Penguins, but they cannot afford more starts like this if they have any chance of winning this series.
Game 2 is Friday at 7:30 pm.
Follow Matt Calamia on Twitter @MattCalamia