PHILADELPHIA — Fists were flying faster than shots on goal. Sidney Crosby and Claude Giroux even became knotted in the pushing, pulling and shoving, a pair of superstars willing to mix it up to prove which team was the baddest on the ice and the scoreboard.
The Penguins and Flyers talked trash, laid the smack down, and played one wildly entertaining game. The result was still the same. The Flyers rallied from another early deficit for a decisive Game 3 victory that placed them on the brink of an improbable sweep.
Danny Briere, Matt Read and Max Talbot each scored two goals to lead Philadelphia to an 8-4 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday in a fight-filled game in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
Giroux and Wayne Simmonds also scored to help the Flyers take a 3-0 lead in the combustible best-of-seven series. Game 4 is Wednesday night in Philadelphia. The Flyers scored 30 goals in the first three games.
"Our goal is to finish it right away," Briere said.
The goals might be hard to find on a highlight reel. This one was all about the brawls more suitable for a UFC card. Three players were tossed in the first period. There was a rare fight between superstars when Crosby squared off against Giroux.
Jordan Staal and James Neal scored twice for a Penguins team pushed to the limit by its hated, intrastate rival. Marc-Andre Fleury was benched after allowing six goals in two periods. He has allowed a whopping 17 goals in the first three games.
Coach Dan Bylsma said Fleury would start, "the next four games."
Hard to imagine at this rate, especially with NHL scoring leader Evgeni Malkin (109 points) yet to score a goal for the Penguins.
Each team had their top defenseman — Pittsburgh's Kris Letang and Philadelphia's Kimmo Timonen — tossed. So was Penguins forward Aaron Asham. But the scene ripped straight out of the pages of Ripley's came when Giroux and Crosby went at it against the backboard.
PREDATORS 3, RED WINGS 2: At Detroit, Shea Weber turned boos into silence with a goal early in the first period and Nashville held on to beat Detroit to take a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference series. Henrik Zetterberg scored with just under a minute left to pull the Red Wings within one, but they couldn't tie the game to force overtime. Game 4 is Tuesday night in Detroit.
PANTHERS 4, DEVILS 2: At Sunrise, Fla., Stephen Weiss scored the first two playoff goals of his 10-year NHL career, Jose Theodore stopped 23 shots and Florida won a playoff game for the first time in nearly 15 years, beating New Jersey even the Eastern Conference series at a game apiece. Marcel Goc had a goal and an assist for the Panthers, who survived a frantic Devils rally in the third.
KINGS 1, CANUCKS 0: At Los Angeles, Jonathan Quick made 41 saves, Dustin Brown scored on a long rebound with 13:30 to play, and the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings pushed the Vancouver Canucks to the brink of elimination capturing a franchise-first 3-0 lead in a playoff series.