THE CHANTING began in the third period - not the "U-S-A . . . U-S-A" of the pregame, not as fervent, not as anticipated. This was different, three different letters. This was about a person, about a performance, about the present and the future.

And it came out of nowhere.

"J-V-R . . . J-V-R . . . J-V-R . . ."

"It's a pretty cool feeling," James van Riemsdyk said, and he allowed himself the quickest and tiniest of smiles. "But it would have been better to come in a winning game - that's the tough part."

It is that. The Flyers have now officially dug themselves into another hole. They again will be given an opportunity to test the resolve for which they have become so famous. They threw an incredible punch at the Boston Bruins last night, but they still find themselves buried in their second-round playoff series, 0-2.

Despite a dominating, two-goal performance by van Riemsdyk - the Flyers' burgeoning young star who made foray after foray at the Bruins' goal and took a turn on three different lines in the third period - the Bruins held on through the end of regulation and then won the game in overtime, 3-2.

The winner was scored by David Krejci at 14 minutes of overtime. It was a goal, a slap shot from between the circles, that beat Brian Boucher cleanly and immediately ricocheted out of the goal. The referees did not see it but, after the next stoppage, a video replay confirmed the obvious.

And now, again, the Flyers must dig. And now, JVR will be counted among those to lead them. He had eight shots on goal last night, and several other big scoring chances besides.

"I had a lot of good chances," he said. "I'm probably not going to be able to sleep well tonight, thinking about some of those. It's tough. But we're going to get back at it in Game 3 and be ready to go."

The first period began as if in a Flyers dream. After "U-S-A . . . U-S-A . . . U-S-A" and after "God Bless America," the home team played as if shot out of a cannon and scored after only 29 seconds, when van Riemsdyk converted on a two-on-one pass from Claude Giroux.

Nine minutes later, it was van Riemsdyk again, on a power play, getting the second rebound of an original shot by Kimmo Timonen. It was JVR's seventh goal of the playoffs, and only begins to tell the story of just how good he has been. Several times last night, he made the kinds of plays that joined speed and strength in a beastly combination. He has been an undisputed force.