"What if the Boston Bruins didn't squander a 3-0 series lead?"
The Philadelphia Flyers forced a decisive seventh game with 2-1 Game 6 victory over the Bruins at Wachovia Center Wednesday night. The Flyers can become only the third team to win a best-of-seven series after dropping the first three games with a victory at Boston's TD Garden Friday night.
"It's certainly not a path you'd like to choose," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "You'd rather have done things differently through the course of the year and the playoffs. We find ourselves down 3-0 in the series and the players deserve a tremendous amount of credit because they won't quit. Every time they're pushed, they push back."
The Flyers -- who needed a shootout victory in the final game of the regular season to gain entry into the playoffs -- are already the sixth team overall and first since the 1975 New York Islanders to tie a series after falling behind 3-0. The Isles did it twice that playoff season, coming back to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins before falling in a Game 7 the next round to the Flyers.
The 1942 Toronto Leafs are the only other team to win a series despite a 3-0 deficit.
"It's nice, but we haven't done anything yet," Flyers forward and captain Mike Richards said. "We fought all the way back to tie it, but we still need that one more win."
In his first NHL playoff start, goalie Michael Leighton wasn't asked to be spectacular. Laviolette made liberal use of his top four defensemen -- especially Chris Pronger, who skated 26 minutes, 42 seconds -- and the blueliners limited Boston's second chances. The Flyers also finished Game 6 with 30 blocked shots to the Bruins' 10.
"We've been doing that all series," Leighton said. "That was the main thing the first three games, I don't think we did that as much. That's why we're here right now. We're blocking shots [and] we're doing what we have to do, and that's what wins hockey games."
Even when Leigthon was forced to scramble, the Bruins weren't able to capitalize until the final minute of regulation. The Bruins' best chances through the first 59 minutes included a shorthanded breakaway that Trent Whitfield shot into Leighton's chest in the second period and a cross-crease pass from Michael Ryder that Patrice Bergeron clanged off the post in the third period.
Milan Lucic became the first Bruin to solve Leighton in 82:43, a stint that began when he replaced an injured Brian Boucher in Game 5.
"I thought we found a better way to get the shots through," Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara said. "Again, we can get better at staying in the position out front and not be moved away to have that chance to put the puck in the nets for the rebounds."
Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask wasn't the beneficiary of the same type of aid. He faced the same amount of shots as Leighton (27) by the time he was pulled with two minutes left in regulation for an extra attacker, but he couldn't be faulted for either Flyers tally.
Forward Mike Richards poked in the puck that trickled out from underneath Rask seven minutes into the game. Daniel Briere gave the Flyers a 2-0 advantage with four minutes left in the second via a 4-on-3 power play.
Despite dropping three consecutive games and being the first team in 35 years to waste a 3-0 lead, Bruins forward Marc Savard said not all is lost -- yet.
"We need to stay positive," Savard said. "We have home ice. This is our last chance. That's it."