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Flyers ignoring the odds

Instead, they are focused on the task at hand: Today's Game 6 vs. the Pens.

As they prepare for Game 6 today against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Wachovia Center, the Flyers know all about the numbers.

They know just about 8 percent of NHL teams that faced a three-games-to-one deficit rallied to win a best-of-seven playoff series.

They know none of the 13 teams in the Flyers' history advanced to the next round after falling into a 3-1 series hole.

They know that, even though they narrowed the Eastern Conference quarterfinals to three games to two with an impressive 3-0 win in Pittsburgh on Thursday, the odds are still heavily against them.

The Flyers don't care.

"You can look at the odds and all that stuff, but if you look at the series . . . we've been getting better and better each game, and I think Game 5 was a big confidence boost for everybody in here," winger Scott Hartnell said after an optional practice in Voorhees yesterday.

After a Game 1 clunker, the Flyers have generally outplayed the Penguins.

"We're finally getting rewarded around their net, and going to the net," said Hartnell, referring to the Game 5 win. "Still, we had some chances that [goalie Marc-Andre] Fleury made some incredible saves on. We still have to bear down around the net and keep on frustrating them."

But is the hole too deep? Is winning three straight against the Penguins too much for a Flyers team that has had three consecutive victories just twice since Dec. 18?

"We're still under pressure, with one more loss and you're done," winger Mike Knuble said. "But I think we'll take [having] Game 6 back in Philly. Again, you don't want to get ahead of yourself or anything. You have to win [today] and that's the task at hand."

Knuble said he expects the Wachovia Center "to be an absolute madhouse" today. "I've been here four years, and it'll probably be the most exciting game I've played in my career here, and I think all of us are looking forward to it."

Flyers fans, Knuble said, are "loud and obnoxious in a good way for us. When you're the home team, it's a great obnoxiousness. The weather is going to be good and people are going to be tailgating and will be in the mood to watch a hockey game - and that's going to add a lot of fun to the building and a lot of excitement. I imagine it will be one of the better games . . . in the history of the rink."

Said coach John Stevens: "I think it's important to realize there's going to be lots of energy in the building and we have to use that emotion in a positive way and keep it in a disciplined manner."

A Flyers win would tie the series and force a dramatic Game 7 showdown Monday in Pittsburgh at 7 p.m.

The Flyers clogged the middle and limited the Penguins' odd-man rushes for most of the series. That must continue today if they are going to extend their season.

Getting the power play going would also help. The Flyers have not connected in their last 18 power-play chances in the series.

"Obviously we have to shoot the puck more and, hopefully, we get one of those dirty goals," said defenseman Kimmo Timonen, referring to a score on a rebound.

In a series in which they faced a three-games-to-two deficit in their history, the Flyers have advanced to the next round just once in 12 attempts. Ironically, that exception was against Pittsburgh in 1989, when Flyers goalie Ken Wregget came to the rescue of an injured Ron Hextall in Game 7.

In the 13 series in which they faced a 3-1 series deficit, the Flyers forced a Game 7 three times - in 1968 against St. Louis, in 1981 against Calgary, and in 1987 against Edmonton.