On Sunday evening, the Flyers said all the right things following an 8-4 win over the Penguins that gave them a commanding 3-0 series lead. They said they didn’t expect the Penguins to roll over and die — and, well ... Pittsburgh didn’t disappoint.
“We lost 10-3 in front of our fans,” Claude Giroux said. “Obviously we’re embarrassed. Our fans didn’t deserve that. We apologize to our fans, but I’ll tell you one thing — it’s not gonna happen again.”
Probably not even if they tried, but now the task is to make sure they didn’t give the Penguins too much life. There was barely any defense and what remained left early. Nicklas Grossmann took a hit from Penguins forward Tyler Kennedy in the first period and played less than four minutes in the second period before bowing out. He is day-to-day with an upper-body injury and one report says he has a concussion.
The goaltending behind him was less than inspiring. Ilya Bryzgalov was pulled less than five minutes into the second period when he had allowed his fifth goal on 18 shots. He now has a 4.98 goals-against average and a .844 save percentage for the series. But he still has three wins. Sergei Bobrovsky was no better. He allowed five goals on 18 shots as well.
“I’m not worried about Bryz,” Giroux said. “He knows what he’s gotta do. He’s an elite goaltender and we’ve got to do a better job in front of him. He’ll be our best player in Game 5.”
Aside from poor goaltending and defense, the Flyers didn’t help their cause with 16 trips to the penalty box. The referees made their stamp on the game early and the message carried through all 60 minutes.
“They said it was a circus the last three games and that they were gonna be in charge and call everything,” Jaromir Jagr said. “They called it on both sides. There were so many penalties, but we knew they were gonna call it like that.”
Instead of a clean sweep, the Flyers will have to head to Pittsburgh and hope to end the series there.
“We’re just gonna find out what kind of team we are,” Jagr said. “How we’re built. If we’re a good team, like we think we are, we have to respond next game and play a better game and play good on the road like we did all year.”
The Flyers didn’t expect it to be easy, but also seemed a little shellshocked with a loss by seven goals. It was their worst playoff defeat at home in playoff history.
“We knew they were not just gonna give up,” Jagr said. “They’re too good. They won the Stanley Cup three or four years ago. They got so many guys who can score goals. They’re not gonna just give it to us. We have to earn it.”
There’s still a lot of time to get one win, and the Flyers still seem confident, but word from the Penguins’ dressing room is that there’s a little bit of renewed life.
“Yeah, we gave them a little life, but at the same time we’re still up 3-1,” Giroux said. “We’re aware of that. We’ve just got to shut the door down in Pittsburgh. Now they’ve got confidence and we’ve got to put that confidence away.”