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Flyers win smackdown, push Penguins to brink

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 yesterday in Philadelphia. 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 in a fight-filled game in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

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.

"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.

Panthers 3, Devils 2: Stephen Weiss scored the first two playoff goals of his 10-year NHL career, Jose Theodore stopped 23 shots and host Florida got its first playoff victory in nearly 15 years to even the conference quarterfinal 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.

Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk scored in the first 2:02 of the third period, and Martin Brodeur made 20 saves for the Devils. Tomas Fleischmann had an empty-net goal as time expired. Game 3 in the series is tomorrow night at the Prudential Center.

Predators 3, Red Wings 2: Shea Weber knew he wouldn't be popular in the Motor City. The star defenseman didn't really care, he just wanted to win. Weber turned boos into silence with a goal early in the first period and Nashville held on to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

"I guess we're more focused on the game," he said.

Weber was jeered every time he touched the puck for smashing Henrik Zetterberg's face into the glass at the end of Game 1. -- AP

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