PHILADELPHIA -- There are people who will tell you the Flyers are cooked, that they can't keep doing this, that winning four of the next five is impossible.
Here's what is impossible.
Rallying to beat the United States Olympic goaltender while using three goaltenders.
Firing 54 shots at his Olympic backup in Game 2 and still losing, in overtime.
They replaced the goalie again Monday night, the Flyers did.
I know, stop the presses.
Only this time, they did it twice. OK, so technically Brian Boucher simply returned in the third period to the game he had started. But they had done all the other forms of goalie replacement.
In this game, you've got to constantly reinvent yourself.
"It'll make a great movie," Claude Giroux has said about this year's Flyers playoff run, and he said that before this series even started. He said that before Boucher allowed five goals over half of Saturday's Game 1, before Boucher left with an apparent hand injury Monday night, before Sergei Bobrovsky made six second-period saves, a few acrobatic, to keep the game tied while Boucher was mended.
He said that before the Flyers dominated the last period and overtime Monday night and still lost, firing and firing and firing at Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, before the winning goal was initially ruled to have hit the crossbar and not the back of the net.
Replays made it clear that David Krejci's blast from between the circles beat Boucher high. In a simpler time ...
Aw, let's not go there.
Because even without replays this team would complicate its path, its playoff existence, would find new and improved ways of driving you crazy, inducing prolonged midgame boos as they did Monday night while spending nearly two minutes chasing the puck in their own zone late in the second period, and deafening roars when they took control of the game in the third, outshooting the Bruins, 22-7.
"Even in the third period, they had us hanging in our zone a couple times," said Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk. "Timmy made not one, two or three, but he made a lot of phenomenal saves to even keep us in the game because they were playing really well. They were playing a strong game. Timmy just stood on his head for us and that is why he is one of the top goalies in the league."
Thomas was great. So was the defense in front of him, clearing dangerous rebounds repeatedly, impeding the sticks of their foes near the crease. The Flyers will rue their missed chances in that period, and into the overtime, but none of it would have mattered had they been a little more responsible defensively after James van Riemsdyk staked them to a 2-0 first-period lead.
It was only a blip, not representative of a night's work, but this game was truly lost a few hours before that one sloppy overtime turnover, over a two-minute span in the middle of that first period. The Bruins scored their first goal simply by outmuscling the Flyers in front of the net, a recurring theme so far in this series. Brad Marchand tied it less than two minutes later when he was left unmarked in the high slot.
Boucher wasn't bad. He stopped Daniel Paille on a breakaway after the Bruins had tied it. He made 38 saves, kept it at two-all with two big third-period stops with just under six minutes remaining. Milan Lucic pushed down the left side and feathered a cross to Nathan Horton, but Boucher got his pad out to stuff it. Less than a minute later, he denied a tip-in try.
On the other end, Kris Versteeg, still without a playoff goal, picked up a loose puck along the side of the net and fed Richards in the slot for a point blank try. Thomas stoned him.
He stoned Mike Richards 10 times. James van Riemsdyk, who almost won this game on his own, scored twice on eight quality shots. The Flyers had a great chance to win the game in regulation when Zdeno Chara was sent off for a high hit on Danny Briere. Missing Chris Pronger, they were dysfunctional on it, but a late icing by Boston set them up with one final and nearly successful chance to win it, with 4.8 seconds left.
A shot off the faceoff tricked just under the stick of Briere, who had the entire Bruins net to shoot at.
It would have been the 23rd shot the Flyers fired at Thomas in that third period, to seven for Boston.
Fret not folks. To paraphrase Peter Laviolette Monday night, his team's got a lot more where that came from. More heart-in-throat hockey is headed your way as we head to Boston, where fans up there have been tortured by a team nearly as mercurial as your own. Yes, the Bruins beat your team twice on its home ice, but now comes their real test:
Winning at home.
"The pressure's on them now," Laviolette said.
The way this postseason has gone, it actually made sense.