Commentary

Flyers' blown lead in Game 1 may be detrimental

The Flyers began Game 1 of their conference semifinals versus the Canadiens the same way they ended the previous round: on fire. But they were unable to maintain the momentum, and it may ultimately cost them.

Updated: April 25, 2008, 11:54 AM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

1. It's not how you start but how you finish. The Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers were both coming off emotional Game 7 victories in the first round -- the Flyers needing overtime to dispatch the Washington Capitals -- but it was the visiting Flyers who had the most jump and controlled the play early in Game 1 of their second-round series. By the end of the first period, they were up 2-0 and looked poised to steal early momentum in the series. But the Habs tied the game with 28.6 seconds left in regulation, and then Tom Kostopoulos ended it 48 seconds into the first overtime to give Montreal a wild 4-3 victory.

[+] EnlargeTom Kostopoulos

AP Photo/Ryan Remiorz
Playing in his first career postseason, Tom Kostopoulos, right, has three goals and an assist -- including the game-winner versus the Flyers.
2. There was a bizarro turn of events in the Avalanche net Thursday night as Colorado and Detroit opened their series in typically dramatic fashion with the Wings holding on for a 4-3 victory. Detroit chased red-hot Avalanche goaltender Jose Theodore by scoring four times by the 1:13 mark of the second period. Then Theodore was dispatched to the team hotel because team officials said he was sick, meaning third-string netminder Tyler Weiman had to dress in case backup Peter Budaj got hurt. Theodore certainly didn't show the form he did in stonewalling the Minnesota Wild in the first round. Budaj was solid, stopping all 20 shots he faced. The issue for the Avs isn't necessarily whether Theodore feels better but whether they'll have the services of top players Peter Forsberg and Wojtek Wolski. Forsberg -- no surprise here -- was scratched with a groin injury, and Wolski was injured in the first period and didn't play again.

3. Another cast of unlikely heroes was in action Thursday night as the conference semifinals got under way. How about Jim Dowd scoring the first goal of the series for the Flyers? Dowd, 39, had five goals all season but has played well in the playoffs and now has a goal and an assist. Then there's Kostopoulos, a seventh-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who had seven goals all season but has managed to score three times this postseason. None was bigger, of course, than Thursday's game-winner in which he banged his own rebound past Martin Biron.

4. The Flyers have struggled to play with a lead this postseason, twice blowing two-goal leads to lose games to Washington in the first round. They bounced back to win the series, of course, but you have to wonder, after the Flyers managed the feat again Thursday, if it will ultimately cost them a berth in the Eastern Conference final. As for the penalty call on Mike Richards that set up Alex Kovalev's tying goal, Richards told Philadelphia reporters he thought he got Kovalev with his shoulder, but we didn't mind the call because replays showed Kovalev was tripped up by Richards' knee. The Flyers shouldn't complain too much, given that they scored the series-clinching goal against Washington on the power play from a call that was much more suspect.

5. Chris Osgood got his third straight start for the Red Wings after he took over for a struggling Dominik Hasek midway through the Wings' first-round series against Nashville. It might look like Osgood had an easy night of it, facing just 21 shots, but the veteran netminder was solid in the third period after the Avs had drawn to within one. With fewer than 10 seconds left in regulation and Budaj on the Colorado bench for an extra attacker, Osgood smothered a John-Michael Liles blast from the slot after the Avalanche defenseman snuck in from the point.

Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.