PHILADELPHIA - One Flyers fan in a lively tailgate scene shouted what a demoralized Philadelphia fan base was feeling.
"Come on Flyers, you're our only hope!"
When it comes to championships in a city defined this month by heartbreak, he might be right.
Claude Giroux, Chris Pronger and the rest of the Flyers gave their fans a needed morale boost, remaining undefeated with a 5-4 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night.
Andrej Meszaros scored the go-ahead goal in the third period, and James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek also scored for the Flyers in their home opener. Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov won his third straight start and 10 players had a point against the defending Western Conference champions.
"The guys seem to fit into what we want to play right away and that's huge," van Riemsdyk said.
The Flyers have been a needed bright spot in a city suffering through a major sports hangover because of the Phillies' unexpected elimination in the NL division series and the Eagles' miserable 1-4 start that has coach Andy Reid under fire.
"It kind of disappoints me to see the Eagles getting written off. There's still a lot of season left to play," van Riemsdyk said. "But it's nice to have a full building and have the passion of the fans come out even more. But at the same time, those teams still mean a lot to the city."
The Flyers delivered in front of nearly 20,000 fans badly needing a reason to cheer. All the new faces shone in their first real game. Voracek, Jaromir Jagr and first-round draft pick Sean Couturier all had points.
The most valuable offseason acquisition was Bryzgalov, who gives the Flyers their first star No. 1 goalie in ages. Bryzgalov stopped all 20 shots Saturday in a 3-0 win over New Jersey for Philadelphia's first shutout since April 6, 2010. He was shaky against Vancouver, as 3-1 and 4-2 leads were sliced to one before he allowed Daniel Sedin to beat him for the tying goal early in the third.
Meszaros wasted no time putting the Flyers back in front, this time for good, rushing the ice and snapping a wrister past Roberto Luongo 59 seconds later for the winner.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Mikael Samuelsson, Henrik Sedin and Chris Higgins scored goals for Vancouver.
"We want to be playing our best game right now, we're not happy with the way things are going," Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "We are good enough to play a full 60 minutes. We are not doing that. When we do play, you see what happens out there."
The fans were ready to go wild and saved their loudest cheers for Pronger, in his first home game as captain, and forward Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds was involved in two preseason dust-ups — a man threw a banana at him and he had an altercation with Sean Avery — and the fans showed their appreciation for one of the newest Flyers with a huge ovation.
Simmonds and Voracek were involved in two of the biggest trades in recent Flyers history. Voracek was acquired from Columbus in the deal that shipped out perennial 30-goal scorer Jeff Carter and Simmonds was part of the trade that sent former captain Mike Richards to Los Angeles.
Richards, furious with the deal at the time, makes a quick return to Philadelphia on Saturday night.
PHT: A comeback win in Game 3 gave Ottawa hope, and the Senators seek a repeat result tonight to level the series.
PHT: After coming back home in an 0-2 hole, the Sharks are now even with the Kings after holding on to win Game 4 Tuesday night.
Video: NHL from NBC Sports
Highlights: Sharks even series with Kings
The San Jose Sharks capitalized on their scoring chances in the first period and the early part of the second period in Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal series against the Los Angeles Kings. After falling behind by two goals, the Kings almost cut the lead in half in the second period, but the referee blew the play dead as the puck was about to cross the goal line. The series is now tied at two.
Check out photos from the Kings' Stanley Cup victory parade in LA.
Stanley Cup playoffs
Check out photos from the NHL postseason action.
Stanley Cup winners
A look at the teams that have earned the right to hoist Lord Stanley's prize since 1965.
Some of Hollywood's hottest celebrities take in NHL games.
Check out the ice girls from around the National Hockey League.