Clutch Briere keys Flyers' late Game 1 rally


PITTSBURGHDanny Brieres playoff numbers were impressive before the Flyers miraculous comeback win Wednesday at the Consol Energy Center. By the time he left the building, they were even better.

In what fast became a seemingly hopeless game for the Flyers, Briere scored two goals and lifted his team to within one after theyd fallen behind, 3-0, in the first period.

Briere was a huge part of why the Flyers fought back for a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins (see game recap)and it was only his first game back after returning from injury. Briere now has 98 points in 98 career playoff games, and 59 points as a Flyer.

Its reasons like that you simply cant count Briere out in the postseason, even after a particularly disappointing year. This is why they call him Danny Playoffs.

Hes done it so many times in the playoffs, I dont think it should surprise anybody, coach Peter Laviolette said. He had a great night tonight.

Only days ago, whether Briere would appear in the postseason at all was an uncertainty. He took a rough hit from Penguins centerman Joe Vitale at the end of the Flyers victory in Pittsburgh on April 1, and was deemed out indefinitely with an upper-back contusion.

He only returned to practice two days ago. Hed said he felt good, but wasnt confirmed for the game until early Wednesday afternoon. The Flyers never even officially updated his injury status until they established he would be in the lineup.

I didnt know if I was going to be able to be effective, but it worked out, Briere said. At the end of the day, all that matters, though, is winning the game. You can play as well as you want, you dont win the game, it doesnt matter. You get to celebrate with all your teammatesthats all its about.

Brieres line with Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds was the best of the Flyers lines all night. They spent much of the game on the ice against Sidney Crosbys notorious line, but connected nonetheless. With Brieres help, Schenn finished with a team-high three points (goal, two assists).

Hes a playoff performer, Schenn said of his linemate. Hes a great player. Its nice to have him back coming off injury. Two huge goals for us, and we need that veteran leadership.

Of course, Brieres first goal was mired in a bit of controversy. He caught a puck from Schenn as he charged up icewith his head up, he made sure to say during his postgame interviewand failed to notice he was clearly offsides. The referees, as it turns out, failed to notice it, too. Briere only learned of the oversight when reporters told him after the game.

The game is Brieres third multi-point game in his last six. He now has 11 points in that stretch, a marked improvement from his figures not that long ago. In fact, during a 29-game stretch from January to March, Briere had just one goal, and that one was an empty-netter.

But as is said, the playoffs truly are a second season.

Everybody said hes a different player in the playoffs, Jaromir Jagr said. And he proved that today.

Without saying it in so many words, Briere admitted his second goal was a lucky one, a goal Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury would probably like to have back. But two seconds after that goal, Briere drew a penalty on Brooks Orpik (the Flyers only power play of the night) that led to Schenns game-tying marker.

Brieres job is far from finished, of course. The Flyers Game 1 win was certainly a statement-maker, but theyll need to win three more to escape the series alive. Theyll need to win 15 more to bring home the Stanley Cup.

For now, though, Briere will get to enjoy his role in his teams remarkable comeback victory for a couple days.

Its pretty amazing, he said. Sitting here after the first period, all we were saying was, weve done it all year. Lets start with a goal. You never know what can happen.

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