Flyers embody the spirit of Rocky with never say die belief

By Julian Linden

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - As the home to Rocky Balboa, Philadelphia has always reveled in playing the role of the sporting underdog but few of the city's teams have truly embodied the spirit of the fictional boxer than the Flyers with their incredible run through this year's Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Flyers defied the odds just by making the playoffs, beating the New York Rangers in a shootout in the final game of the regular season. But their unlikely run to the NHL final already has the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster.

They won their first-round playoff against second-seeded New Jersey then staged an improbable comeback to win their Eastern Conference semi-final against number six Boston, becoming just the third NHL team to survive a 3-0 deficit and take a best-of-seven playoff.

Victory over the Montreal Canadiens saw them advance to the Stanley Cup finals but they were suddenly back on the canvas after losing the first two games, each by a solitary goal, away to the red-hot Blackhawks from Chicago, the home of one of Balboa's fiercest opponents, Clubber Lang.

Needing to win Wednesday's third game in Philadelphia to avoid falling behind 3-0, their luck finally seemed to have dried up.

Twice they led, only to see the Blackhawks equalize. Then when the visitors took the lead in the third period, the scriptwriters were starting to pen an unhappy ending.

The Flyers managed to tie the score at 3-3 and push the game into overtime but again their good fortune deserted them when they had a goal disallowed, albeit correctly.

However they found a way to overcome their disappointment and get the winner to trim their series deficit to 2-1. The never-say-die Flyers now have the prospect of drawing level on Friday in Game Four at home.

"(Behind) 2-0 for us is comfortable. We're okay with that," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette told a news conference.

"We know how to battle through it. Once we wake up tomorrow morning, we know we have to hold serve on home ice. I think the guys will be fine with that."

Claude Giroux, who scored the winning goal six minutes into overtime, said the team had found some bizarre enjoyment from the seemingly hopeless situations they kept finding themselves in.

"Anytime we get adversity we find a way to get it done. I don't know, we just got a lot of character in the room," he said.

"Guys really want to win. So I think when the guys are on the same page, it's a lot more fun. We're having fun. When you have fun, you play good."

(Editing by Steve Ginsburg)