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Flyers don't feel pressure

Michael Leighton, making a second-period save Saturday, will start tonight’s Game 2 for the Flyers, coach Peter Laviolette said, despite allowing five goals on 20 shots.

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Michael Leighton, making a second-period save Saturday, will start tonight’s Game 2 for the Flyers, coach Peter Laviolette said, despite allowing five goals on 20 shots.

CHICAGO — Laughs and lighthearted groans came from a small group of Flyers on Sunday while they warmed up for practice by kicking a soccer ball in a basement corner of the United Center.

The day after the Flyers' 6-5 loss to the Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final, it was hardly an uptight picture of pressure.

Philadelphia pulled its goalie, gave up six goals without facing a power play and failed to hold three leads. But for all the Flyers have recovered from this season, they aren't about to fold.

"That's why it's a best-of-seven series," defenseman Chris Pronger said a day before Game 2. "The world is not ending, and the sun came up today."

This is the same team that got into the playoffs only by beating the Rangers in a shootout on the final day of the regular season. Then after ousting the second-seeded Devils, it rallied from a 3-0 series deficit and 3-0 Game 7 deficit to oust the Bruins.

"I don't think anybody is hitting the panic button or rushing to do anything rash here," Pronger said. "We just need to stay focused and play probably a little more relaxed."

Since the Cup final went to best-of-seven in 1938-39, the winner of Game 1 has won 54 of 70 series. Even that stat is not enough to sway the Flyers.

"Every loss is big in the playoffs. I'm not going to lie about that," center Danny Briere said. "But at the same time, coming in everybody was talking about how good the Blackhawks were. I haven't heard anybody giving us a chance. It's never over until it's completely over. We hear that cliche all the time. I feel it's never been as more true as it is with this team."

Saturday marked the highest-scoring Cup final game since June 1, 1992, when the Penguins completed a sweep of the Blackhawks with a 6-5 victory.

But among Chicago's six goals, none came from its top line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien. None even recorded an assist.

Toews, who leads the league with 26 playoff points, was minus-3 with only one shot. Kane, who has 20 points, was minus-3 with two shots. Byfuglien, the 257-pound forward who plays like a linebacker, was minus-3 with two shots.

"We maybe were chasing the puck a little bit too much and weren't protecting it and weren't supporting each other," Toews said. "As a line, we have to simplify things. As the game went along, we kind of started pressing on each other to get going. There were a lot of things we could have done better."

Maybe it was the Flyers defense led by Pronger, who played 32 minutes, 21 seconds.

"I think we just did a good job of denying them time and space," Pronger said. "If they didn't have the puck, they can't make plays. And for a lot of their shifts, we played in their end, forced them to play defense and really tried to deny the puck to both Kane and Toews."

Coincidentally, Philadelphia's top line of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne also went pointless.

But Chicago second-line wing Troy Brouwer, who scored twice, said he expects both top lines to come out firing tonight.

"Both … will be very determined," he said. "I know the guys on our team feel they can give more."

Flyers don't feel pressure 05/30/10 [Last modified: Sunday, May 30, 2010 9:51pm]
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