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Bruins push Flyers to brink of elimination

MIKE RICHARDS said it now looks like the Flyers have a mountain staring them in the face. It may be bigger - and it's definitely scarier-than that.

MIKE RICHARDS said it now looks like the Flyers have a mountain staring them in the face.

It may be bigger - and it's definitely scarier-than that.

Tomorrow night, they will be staring down death, with the promise of a long summer ahead.

Despite gaining their first lead in the series just a few minutes after the drop of the puck, the Flyers quickly squandered it on their way to a 4-1 loss at the Wachovia Center in Game 3 of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Bruins. It was their first home loss in the playoffs.

Boston's mind-numbing, almost methodical, win left the Flyers looking to Game 4 to avoid being swept in a playoff series for the first time since the 1997 Stanley Cup finals.

The 1975 New York Islanders were the last team to erase a 3-0 deficit and win a series, one of only two teams in NHL history to accomplish that feat.

"We have to win one game," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said when asked about his team's game plan. "I think that's the first thing on the agenda, is to get a win in the column. There was a lot of good things we did tonight."

One of them was getting the early lead. But as quick as it came, it went.

Arron Asham scored just 2:32 into the contest, just the Flyers' third goal of the series from someone other than Richards or Danny Briere, but Blake Wheeler redirected a shot behind Brian Boucher at 4:11, knotting the score. The Flyers' first lead of the series lasted all of 99 seconds.

Another minute-and-a-half later, the Flyers were back in a hole - the same hole they have been in the entire series - when Miroslav Satan scored.

The Flyers had no explanation for giving up the lead so quickly.

"I don't even know, to be honest," Briere said, "In a span of, I don't even know how long it was, we were down again. I can't even explain it. That's where we get in trouble. So far this series we haven't had the chance to play with the lead. Finally, tonight we get one early on, and we gave it right back up."

While the Wachovia Center was busy oohing-and-ahhing over Richards' crushing hit on David Krejci at center ice - one that eventually sent Krejci to the hospital - Krejci started a concatenation of events that ended up with the puck in the Flyers' net.

Just before he was hit, Krejci dished the puck to Milan Lucic who launched it to Satan on a breakaway after Dan Carcillo tripped and fell. Satan gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead before 6 minutes had elapsed off the game clock.

"We came out and I thought we were just storming," Laviolette said. "I mean, our strides were strong everywhere and you look at the scoreboard and 8 minutes in we were down 2-1. I like our game, I don't like the scoreboard."

After Satan's goal - his 14th point in his last 13 playoff games against Philadelphia - the Flyers went on the offensive but couldn't solve Tuukka Rask. Over a 10-minute span in the first period, the Flyers outshot Boston 10-1.

The Flyers put in two strong periods of work and had nothing to show for it. The second period was more of the same: more shots, more shots blocked and more saves by Rask.

The Flyers outshot the Bruins, 15-9, in the second period and had two different chances on the power play to tie the game. Asham had Rask beaten for a second time but rang a backhand off the post.

"We outplayed them pretty much in the first two periods," Asham said. "Our confidence was fine, we just couldn't get the puck past Tuukka. He made some big saves for them and blocked a lot of shots."

Boston knew better than to squander its early third-period power play.

Former Flyer Mark Recchi whacked in a rebound from a Zdeno Chara blast just 2:30 into the third period. Chara's initial rebound bounced off of Wheeler's chest before landing on Recchi's stick on the far post.

After Recchi's goal, the Flyers seemed to lack the emotion and desperation necessary as they failed to send a single shot Rask's way on a power play in the final 5 minutes of the game.

"We should have bounced back after that," Richards said. "I thought we probably could have played a little better in the third period. We should have showed a little more emotion but, unfortunately, we didn't."

In all, the Flyers fired 71 attempts towards Rask - 35 shots, 21 attempts blocked and 15 that missed the net completely. The only Flyers to not have a shot on goal were Blair Betts, Ryan Parent and Andreas Nodl. James van Riemsdyk was credited with a game-high seven shots.

"Honestly, I don't think we gave up more than six or seven quality scoring chances to them," Laviolette said. "We probably pressured over 20 [on them]. We couldn't beat their goaltender."

Richards said he wouldn't give any credence to the suggestion that the Flyers are tired, even if they are relying on their top players more than usual in the absence of Jeff Carter (foot) and Simon Gagne (toe).

"I don't see why we should be," Richards said. "We had 10 days off, so I don't think we should be tired at all."

Tired or not, the Flyers have little time to decide if their season - now officially on life support - will be extended.

"It may seem like a mountain if you look at it in the whole," Richards said. "But if you break it down, it's just one game after another."

Slap shots

The Flyers outshot Boston, 35-20 . . . The Flyers are just 2-for-14 on the power play this series . . . Danny Briere and Mike Richards both had consecutive game-point streaks broken . . . The Flyers pulled goaltender Brian Boucher for 1:29 in the third period - while on the power play - to stop play and give their five players a rest, since Peter Laviolette already burned their timeout. Johan Backlund returned to the bench at the next whistle . . . Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid, who was on the ice for the Flyers' first-period goal, left the game with an undisclosed injury and did not return.

For more news and analysis, read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at http://go.philly.com/frequentflyers.

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