Work in Sports
PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers looked refreshed and well-rested, the Pittsburgh Penguins tired and demoralized.
Andy Delmore became the first rookie defenseman to record a playoff hat trick in the post-expansion era as the Philadelphia Flyers followed up an epic five-overtime win with a 6-3 victory over the Penguins, who played most of the game without superstar Jaromir Jagr.
Mark Recchi tied team playoff records with four assists and five points for the revitalized Flyers, who recorded their third straight win and grabbed a three games to two lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Philadelphia moved within one win of advancing to the conference finals for the first time since 1997.
"I think everyone really came out with a lot of energy, considering the aftereffects of the last game," Delmore said. "Everyone put in a great effort."
The Flyers became the first home team to win in the series. Game Six is Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
"Everything was going in," Recchi said. "We didn't do much different than the other games, but the puck was going in for us. We'll take it and run, and get ready for Tuesday."
From the opening faceoff, the Flyers took the fight out of the Penguins. After falling into a 2-0 hole just 3:27 into the contest, Pittsburgh got more bad news when Jagr suffered a muscle strain in his leg late in the first period. He did not return after playing just one shift in the second period.
Jagr would not say what leg he injured but said there is a 90 percent chance he will play on Tuesday.
"I just pulled something," he explained. "I'm not going to tell you exactly what happened. I'll let you know after the series is over. Before I even stepped on the ice (in the second period), it was 4-0. There was no reason to be there today."
Jagr is the leading scorer in the playoffs with eight goals and eight assists but has been held pointless in the last two contests.
Pittsburgh coach Herb Brooks insisted the five-overtime loss had nothing to do with the Penguins' slow start today.
"If you look at the game, we made some horrendous errors in the first period and the second period was like a replay of the first period," he said. "We couldn't get the puck out."
After the teams struggled through a 107-minute scoring drought in Thursday's fourth game, Daymond Langkow got the Flyers on the board just 23 seconds into today's contest.
Recchi blocked a clearing attempt by Penguins defenseman Darius Kasparaitis and passed into the slot to Langkow, who flipped a backhander between the pads of Ron Tugnutt, who could not follow up his spectacular 70-save effort on Thursday.
Philadelphia continued its explosive start and went up 2-0 on the power play at 3:27 when Delmore's slap shot beat Tugnutt high to the glove side. Tugnutt was peppered with eight shots in the first four minutes and pulled after the second period. Peter Skudra stopped 10 of 11 shots in the third period in his NHL playoff debut.
"My legs felt a little sluggish and the condition of the ice didn't help," Tugnutt said. "It was really sticky out there, but that's not an excuse for anything. I'm not going to make any excuses. I look forward to the next game."
The Flyers again stunned the Penguins early in the second as Dan McGillis rifled a slap shot past Tugnutt just 16 seconds in before Recchi cashed in on another power play to make it 4-0 at 3:47.
"I think we did a good job with our discipline and composure," Philadelphia coach Craig Ramsay said. "We may have gotten a little sloppy later, but our discipline was solid. We stayed with our game. Everybody kept their head."
Tyler Wright got the Penguins on the board with 4:54 left in the period, ending rookie Brian Boucher's 185-minute scoreless streak. It was Pittsburgh's first goal since Alexei Kovalev scored 2:22 into the first period on Thursday.
Boucher recorded 29 saves after turning aside 57 shots in Thursday's marathon that ended at 2:35 a.m. EDT on Keith Primeau's goal 12:01 into the fifth extra session.
"We wanted to carry the momentum we had in Games 3 and 4 and get the crowd into it," Boucher said. "We wanted to try and make them quit. We did a heck of a job today, but we still have our work cut out. Hopefully, we can do it there (in Pittsburgh)."
The Penguins lost their cool after Delmore recorded his second goal to give the Flyers a 5-1 lead with 2:10 left in the second period. Matthew Barnaby, enraged after Flyers defenseman Adam Burt put a glove in his face, bumped an official and received a game misconduct.
With 1:15 left in the period, Philadelphia defenseman Luke Richardson was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for shooting the puck off Pittsburgh's Bob Boughner, but there were only two minor penalties in the final 20 minutes.
After Delmore completed his hat trick at 5:17 of the third period, fans showered the ice with hats, towels and even wigs.
Delmore has scored five goals in the postseason, all in the last three games.
"Tonight, when the third one went in, it was a great feeling for me," Delmore said. "There's not any words that can describe how I felt out there."
"Delly brings a lot to the table," Ramsay added. "He has that great enthusiasm. He did a wonderful job tonight of filling those holes and coming in on the play."
Overwhelmed in the first two periods, Pittsburgh showed some life in the third, getting goals from Kasparaitis and Rob Brown.
But the Penguins had dug themselves too deep a hole and will be facing elimination on Tuesday after winning the first two games of the series.
While the Flyers scored on their only two power-play chances, the Penguins were 0-for-2 and dropped to 2-for-24 in the series.