Work in Sports
Tugnutt stones Flyers again for 2-0 series lead
Posted: Sunday April 30, 2000 04:10 AM
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Just as most everyone in Philadelphia predicted, the Flyers-Penguins series is going back to Pittsburgh with a team up 2-0.
Only it wasn't supposed to be this team.
Robert Lang and Jaromir Jagr, two of a half-dozen Czechs in the NHL's most international lineup, each scored twice and the Penguins again befuddled the Flyers in their own arena to win 4-1 Saturday.
The Penguins had not won in Philadelphia in 16 games over six years, only to do so twice in three days in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Flyers have rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win a playoff series only once, in 1977 against Toronto.
"No question, we didn't figure to go into Pittsburgh 0-2," said Flyers center Keith Primeau, who was on the ice for every Penguins goal. "Did we get ahead of ourselves? Maybe we need to give them their due respect."
Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night at Pittsburgh, where the Flyers are 3-14-5 in their last 22 games.
Just as in Game 1, the Penguins killed off Flyers power plays -- Philadelphia was 0-for-8 in Game 2 and is 0-for-10 in the series -- and made the most of their scoring chances despite being badly outshot, 45-25.
"The way they came at us, we could have been down 3-0 after the first 10 minutes," Jagr said.
Goaltender Ron Tugnutt wouldn't let that happen. Cast off by five NHL teams, Tugnutt turned aside 44 shots. He already has twice as many playoff victories this season (6) as he did previously in his career, stopping a remarkable 224 of 233 shots, a .961 save percentage.
"He's done a much better job of shutting us down than [Buffalo's Dominik] Hasek did, and he's the best goaltender in the world," Flyers rookie goalie Brian Boucher said.
The seventh-seeded Penguins, not even assured of making the playoffs until the final week of the season, have been outshot 233-148, yet have outscored Washington and Philadelphia 23-9 while winning six of seven playoff games.
There are few NHL teams more disparate in style and makeup than the Penguins, who have 14 European players and seven North Americans, and the Flyers, who have 22 North American players and two Europeans.
"We're completely opposite teams," Boucher said. "We're a down-low team, a team that gets ugly goals, they're a team that seems to get pretty shots. They don't get a lot of shots, but they try to make nice plays and get pretty goals."
So far, it's Czech-mate, Penguins.
Not only did Jagr and Lang score all of the Penguins' goals, the first three were set up by Czech countryman Martin Straka as they opened a 3-0 lead in a city where they once went 15 years without winning. As the Penguins were shutting out the Flyers power play, they were scoring two of their first three goals with the man advantage.
Lang scored the all-important first goal at 16:57 of the first, 12 seconds after Daymond Langkow was called for roughing Rene Corbet.
Rob Brown, a Penguins retread who played on Mario Lemieux's line in the late 1980s, threaded a pass across the crease to Lang, who wristed it by Boucher from the left side of the net.
"Our line had a very good game," said Lang, who plays on the Penguins' second line with Straka and Alexei Kovalev. "I'm very happy with the way we played. We made the plays we had to."
The goal hushed an extremely loud, energetic crowd of 19,810 that was unable to will their team to a goal even as the Flyers came out furiously and held Pittsburgh without a shot for five minutes.
"The way it started, it was scary," Jagr said. "I thought I was playing in a different league, I don't think we had any scoring chances for 10 minutes. Somehow, we survived. After that, we had better patience and better shots."
Jagr, who seemed to score or set up nearly every vital Pittsburgh goal in these playoffs, made it 2-0 on another power play at 14:45 of the second.
With Pittsburgh rejuvenated after holding Philadelphia scoreless on 17 shots on the Flyers' first five power plays, Jagr's wrist shot from the right circle off Jiri Slegr's cross-ice pass slipped between Boucher's pads.
The momentum clearly in Pittsburgh's favor now, Lang scored his second goal of the game 1:45 later to make it 3-0. The Penguins caught the Flyers defensemen pinching and turned it into a 2-on-1 break that allowed Lang to steer a shot by Boucher to the short side.
"Maybe we're a little tense out there," Boucher said. "When the other goaltender is playing well ... and you don't score goals, you tend to be tight."
Simon Gagne finally scored Philadelphia's first goal of the series at 4:34, preventing the Flyers' first consecutive playoff shutouts since 1969, but Jagr answered at 10:59 as the teams skated 4-on-4.
Jan Hrdina, yet another of the Penguins' Czech players, set up Jagr's third goal of the series and sixth in seven playoff games.
There was a delay of nearly five minutes with 5:09 left in the third period after three fights broke out at opposite ends of the fast-emptying arena. Ten players were penalized, five on each team, with all five Flyers leaving for the rest of the game.
"They wanted to show they had some fight left in them," Penguins forward Matthew Barnaby said. "If my team's down 2-0, I'd probably do the same thing."