Nerves are a legitimate excuse for a poor start in Game 1 of a series.

Usually not for Game 5, though.

But that's what several Flyers blamed for their 7-4 loss to the Blackhawks on Sunday, which put them in a three-games-to-two hole.

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"We were a little too ready," Flyers forward Ville Leino said. "I think we were a little nervous. We weren't loose enough to make plays when we had (chances), and nobody wanted the puck. We didn't make plays. We were just giving it to them. Just gave it back. We've got to be smarter and work hard, and we have to want the puck."

Defenseman Kimmo Timonen said the team might have shown its inexperience by thinking ahead to possibly winning the Cup on home ice in Game 6 - something they won't be able to do now.

"That might be one of those things. Not many of us have been here before," Timonen said. "We knew the situation. If we won today, we go back home, those kind of things. Now we have to learn from it."

Coach Peter Laviolette, surprisingly, didn't disagree.

"It was clearly something," Laviolette said. "I guess if it was nerves, it was nerves. But we got outworked pretty good. We got outbattled. They were quicker to loose pucks. Quicker on the forecheck."

Captain Mike Richards stopped short of using the word nervous, but even he admitted the team's mindset was off.

"We came out tentative," Richards said. "Didn't move our feet and turned a lot of pucks over."

While they get to return to the comfort of the Wachovia Center for Game 6 on Wednesday, the Flyers can't win the Cup without winning in Chicago, site of a potential Game 7.

And if nerves were a problem in Game 5, what will happen in Game 7, when they stakes are even higher?

"It's not easy to play, obviously, on the road. It's easier to play home," Leino said. "But we've just got to be ready on the road. It shouldn't be that big of a difference."


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