That's how you defend your home rink. And that's how you redeem yourself for taking a horrible, game-breaking penalty in overtime of Game 2.
Yes, Claude Giroux came up huge today. First, he picked up a perfect set up pass from the now-visible Danny Briere to give the Flyers a lead that they had just coughed up minutes earlier. Then a few minutes later, he put created what turned out to be the game-winning goal on a play that epitomizes why he's drawn comparisons to Peter Forsberg.
With the Flyers on the penalty kill, Giroux picked up the puck behind the Pittsburgh net. He shook Sergei Gonchar, then turned Kris Letang inside out before spinning back behind the cage and flipping an impossible pass through the crease to a wide-open Simon Gagne. Gagne buried the goal and buried the Pens in the process.
Jeff Carter also made up for his shortcomings in Game 2. On a first-period play that will no doubt make the highlight reels, Carter trailed the play, called for the puck as he crossed the blueline, and then deked into a slot area void of Penguins. He seemingly sped in unnoticed as he calmly flipped to the backhand to beat Marc-Andre Fleury. There was no doubt about it this time, and the Flyers had a 1-0 lead.
The tone was set, and Mike Richards would add to the lead a few minutes later with a power play goal. Things got a little chippy as the Penguins saw their chances dissipating early. Chris Kunitz absoultely destroyed Kimmo Timonen in the corner with a vicious (but clean) hit, attempting to get momentum back. Kimmo shot right back up and the play continued, but not before Scott Hartnell roughed things up. The players gathered, Tyler Kennedy came after Giroux, and G dropped him to the ice en route to completing a Gordie Howe hat trick. (For the record, he only got a roughing call... but that's just a technicality.)
Pittsburgh scored a big goal at the end of the first, and then tied the game at two early in the second. The Flyers could've packed it in, but they really showed a lot of poise in quickly coming back with Giroux's goal and taking control of the game right back.
Martin Biron was shaky in the first but settled in quite well. He wound up make 26 saves in the victory, several of them in key Penguin' power play situations. The Flyers defense also played on of the best collective games they've played in a while. On the penalty kill they look fantastic, blocking shots left and right. Ryan Parent and Timonen did an excellent job shutting down the potent Pittsburgh attack, and Matt Carle and Braydon Coburn had a nice performance too.
It was an impressive outing by the entire unit, even on the offensive end. A big key to the Flyers offensive success today was getting the defenders to contribute in the offensive pressure. The entire team did a good job getting pucks back to the D and then developing rushes from there. That, coupled with the team successfully getting traffic in front of Fleury really generated a lot of positive chances.
Philadelphia also hopped on a huge number of loose pucks, a credit to the aggressive yet restrained style they've played successfully (for the most part) played in the last two games.
The Penguins won't be happy with their performance today, and they're gonna bring it come Tuesday night. But we can't worry about that. If the Flyers keep up this level of play, this series will be tied up heading back to Pittsburgh.
1 down, 15 to go.