Claude Giroux wrapped up a dominant series with his sixth goal, Ilya Bryzgalov had his first outstanding effort in net and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 on Sunday to win their Eastern Conference opening-round series in six games.
Giroux scored only 32 seconds into the game, and the Flyers rolled from there. In a series where no lead was safe, the Flyers scored the first three goals and made it stand behind stout defense and stellar play out of Bryzgalov.
Bryzgalov allowed 20 goals in the first five games. He settled down in Game 6 and gave up only Evgeni Malkin's goal in the second period.
The Flyers had stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series before Pittsburgh won two straight. Philadelphia finished off the 108-point Penguins and wait to find out who they play in the next round.
A day before Game 6, Flyers forward Scott Hartnell called out his defense and Bryzgalov and said it was their turn to win a game.
Bryzgalov was at last the shutdown goalie the Flyers expected when they gave him $51 million to steady one of Philadelphia's weak links. He outplayed Marc-Andre Fleury and helped the Flyers advance to the conference semifinals for the third straight season.
Bryz stopped 30 of 31 shots in the game.
"It’s a team effort, like I said before, we’ve gotta all sacrifice something and pay the price –- no matter what price -- to win the game," Bryzgalov said.
Fleury had seemingly pulled together after some awful efforts in Games 2 and 3. He steadied the Penguins in a Game 5 victory and had the Penguins feeling confident about sending the series back to Pittsburgh for Game 7.
So much for that.
Moments after Giroux leveled Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, he took the loose puck and fired from the circle for a 1-0 lead. He gestured toward the crowd and slammed the glass in celebration, firing up 20,000 fans that hadn't had much to cheer about the last two games.
It was Philadelphia's first even-strength goal since Giroux scored one 27 seconds into the third period of Game 3.
The team that scored first had lost the first five games of the series. For once, the Flyers piled on.
The Flyers made it 2-0 on the second bad goal allowed by Fleury. He had seemingly stopped the puck and had it covered it up, but Hartnell poked it free and jammed it into the net for a 2-0 lead and Philadelphia's 12th power-play goal of the series.
From there, Flyers fans started their derisive chants of "Fleur-rrrrry! Fleur-rrrrry!''
He was rattled more by the Flyers in the second period than the crowd noise.
Erik Gustafsson was all alone when he fired an uncontested shot from just above the circle for a 3-0 lead.
Gustafsson scored one goal all season. The Flyers put his face on the big screen as he sat on the bench, and the crowd erupted and gave him a standing ovation. Gustafsson cracked a small smile when he looked up at the video board and realized those screaming fans were all for him.
The 3-0 lead looked shaky for a moment when Malkin scored his third of the series to make it 3-1. The Penguins scored 19 goals over Games 2-4 and certainly had the firepower to rally one more time.
The Flyers silenced them 34 seconds later when Danny Briere's shot trickled between Fleury's sprawled legs for his fifth goal of the series and a 4-1 lead. Brayden Schenn added an empty-netter in the final seconds.
Flyers fans chanted "We don't like you!'' in the waning moments, a poke at Crosby's comments that he didn't like anyone on the Flyers.
The Penguins were the odds-on favorite to win the Stanley Cup and could find the early elimination leads to sweeping changes on the roster.
The testy series concluded with a peaceful handshake line -- and the Flyers having several days of rest before the next round begins.