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The Philadelphia Flyers are one win away from eliminating the Pittsburgh Penguins after an 8-4 victory against the team that entered the National Hockey League playoffs as the Stanley Cup favorite.
Also yesterday, the Nashville Predators held off the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 to lead their series by two games to one, the Florida Panthers beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2 to even their matchup at one game each, and the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Vancouver Canucks 1-0 for a 3-0 series lead.
Danny Briere, Maxime Talbot and Matt Read each scored two goals as the Flyers opened a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven playoff series. The Penguins had been tabbed as the oddsmakers’ favorites to win the Stanley Cup when Sidney Crosby, the NHL’s Most Valuable Player in 2007, returned last month after missing 59 games during the past two seasons because of concussions.
“If there’s a team that can come back from 3-0 this year, I think it’s them,” said Flyers center Claude Giroux. “We need to understand that and make sure we’re focused.”
The New York Rangers are at the Ottawa Senators tonight, when the defending champion Boston Bruins visit the Washington Capitals and the San Jose Sharks host the St. Louis Blues. All three of those series are tied at 1-1 in games.
Philadelphia can advance with a victory in Game 4 at home on April 18. Pittsburgh is seeking to join the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1975 New York Islanders and the 2010 Flyers as NHL teams to win a playoff series after trailing 3-0.
“It’s a big mountain,” said Penguins center Jordan Staal, who scored two goals. “Our team has had adversity before and this is going to be a big challenge for us.”
Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang and Arron Asham, along with Kimmo Timonen of the Flyers, were ejected in a brawl-marred first period at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia during which 72 minutes of penalties were handed out. Crosby and Giroux were among those sanctioned for fighting.
A total of 158 minutes of penalties were handed out -- 89 to the Penguins and 69 to the Flyers.
“It’s intense and you can say we got frustrated, but we didn’t,” Crosby told reporters.
In yesterday’s final game, Dustin Brown scored the lone goal with 13:30 remaining as the Kings moved within a victory of eliminating a Canucks team that won the Presidents’ Trophy after leading the NHL with 111 regular-season points.
Vancouver is the top seed in the Western Conference and was the third choice of Las Vegas oddsmakers to win the Stanley Cup entering the postseason, with 5-1 odds.
The Kings, the eighth seed in the West, last won a playoff series in 2001 and host Game 4 on April 18.
Also yesterday, the Predators recorded their first postseason win at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit behind goals from Shea Weber, Kevin Klein and Sergei Kostitsyn.
All three games in the series have finished 3-2. The teams return to the same venue for Game 4 tomorrow before heading back to Nashville for Game 5 three days later.
The Panthers opened a 3-0 lead at home as Stephen Weiss scored a pair of power-play goals. The Devils then rallied with two goals in the third period before Florida added an empty-net goal with one second remaining. It was the Panthers’ first postseason victory since April 17, 1997.
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