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Aftermath: Penguins 4, Flyers 1

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
   
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| Highlights | Crosby, Staal
QUICK ANALYSIS
 
The Penguins put together one of their finest performances en route to a victory over the Philadelphia Flyers to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Pittsburgh dominated the first and third periods – the second was a draw – and easily dispatched cross-state rival Philadelphia in the opening tilt of the postseason.

Pittsburgh’s talent overwhelmed goaltender Martin Biron and the Flyers defense. The Penguins maintained constant pressure and slowly killed Philadelphia. The Flyers were self destructive at times. When the game was out of hand, the Flyers tried to take some liberties on the Penguins and the game ended on an ugly note.

There is no love from the City of Brotherly Love. You can expect the animosity will only get worse as the series continues. Bur for now, Pittsburgh couldn’t have asked for a better start.
 
WHAT HAPPENED
 
(AP) - Almost seemed as if the Pittsburgh Penguins were playing last season's conference finals against the rival Flyers all over again.

The Penguins got a goal and an assist each from stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and shut down the frustrated Philadelphia Flyers' fleet of scorers for a 4-1 victory Wednesday night in the opening game of the first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, idle for long stretches in the first two periods as his teammates controlled play at the other end, made 26 saves as the Penguins won their fourth consecutive conference playoff series opener.
 
SHOT OF THE NIGHT

Rob Scuderi lit up Philadelphia's Darroll Powe (photo by Getty)
ESSENTIALS
 
What Worked Well: Adapting Style
The Penguins played an excellent blend of their attacking offense and disciplined defense. Pittsburgh played a in a more defensive posture than we’ve seen under interim head coach Dan Bylsma. But it didn’t hinder their offense and the synergy worked to perfection as Pittsburgh scored four goals and shut down the Flyers’ vaunted offense.

What Could Have Gone Better: Shutout
Marc-Andre Fleury played lights out goaltending for the first 55 minutes of the game. However, his shutout bid ended when the Flyers scored on a late power play in the third period. Though he may be disappointed, Fleury was brilliant throughout the game, making 26 saves and frustrating the Philadelphia offense. 
 
DIFFERENCE MAKER
 
Jordan Staal was phenomenal. The 20-year-old looked like a man amongst boys. He led all Penguins’ forwards in ice time with 20:36 minutes (Sidney Crosby, 17:16; Evgeni Malkin, 17:01), played physical and his defensive play was key to silencing Philadelphia’s explosive offense. Staal also had an assist, four shots, two hits and won 79 percent of his faceoffs (11-of-14).
 
SCORING SYNOPSIS
 
The Penguins scored a power-play goal to take an early lead in the first period. Sidney Crosby had the puck in the near circle and fed it to Evgeni Malkin, who was below the goal line. Malkin’s attempted centering pass hit Flyers goalie Martin Biron’s pad and deflected towards the slot. Crosby kicked the puck to his stick and threw a shot far side. The puck hit the post, then caromed off of Biron’s pad and across the goal line. The referees reviewed the goal and determined that there was no “distinct kicking motion.” Pittsburgh 1, Philadelphia 0.

The Flyers turned the puck over in the neutral zone and the Penguins made them pay with their second goal of the game. Jordan Staal picked up the puck and pushed it ahead to Tyler Kennedy. Pittsburgh had a three-on-one chance with Kennedy, Staal and Matt Cooke. Kennedy carried the puck all the way to the top of the crease and wristed a shot through the five-hole of Biron for his first career postseason goal. Pittsburgh 2, Philadelphia 0.

Malkin made a great individual play to give the Penguins a 3-0 lead. Malkin pressured Mike Knuble by the far halfwall in the Flyers zone. Knuble tried to make a bounce pass off the boards behind the net to a teammate on the opposite side but the puck caromed into the slot. Malkin collected the puck and Biron stretched out for a poke check. Malkin coolly pulled the puck around Biron’s stick and slipped it into the goal. Pittsburgh 3, Philadelphia 0.

Pittsburgh added to its lead on Mark Eaton’s first career postseason goal. Crosby won a faceoff in the Flyers zone and Pittsburgh worked the puck to Eaton at the far point. Eaton’s shot deflected off of a Flyers’ stick and behind Biron. Pittsburgh 4, Philadelphia 0.

The Flyers finally got on the board with a late power-play goal in the third period to end the shutout. Simon Gagne carried the puck down the middle and his shot went off of the goal post. The rebound went right to Mike Richards, who buried it into the vacant cage. Pittsburgh 4, Philadelphia 1.
 
INTRIGUING NOTABLES
 
The Penguins scratched forwards Eric Godard and Miroslav Satan and defenseman Philippe Boucher. Sitting Godard may have been influenced by the fact that Philadelphia’s tough guy, Riley Cote, was out of the lineup. The decision to sit Philippe Boucher means the Penguins went with the defensive unit that carried them through the final 20 games of the regular season.

Matt Cooke was clipped in the face in the Flyers zone during the first period. In a great video image, he yelled at the referees (no penalty was called) with two pieces of gauze up his nose and blood running down his face.

Mark Eaton made an incredible play to eliminate a two-on-one opportunity for the Flyers in the first period and the Penguins holding a 1-0. Mike Richards had the puck with Scott Hartnell alongside him. Eaton flopped to the ice and deflected Richard's attempted pass to thwart the scoring chance.

Gary Bettman on the Penguins after the first intermission:
“I would note that as we talk about the state of the franchise here in Pittsburgh, this is the 108th consecutive sellout. The club announced today a renewal of its radio deal. There was an announcement that their TV ratings, locally, set an all time record. I think they averaged 6.9 per game, which is spectacular. I noticed a lot of steel across the street (for the new arena) so things are looking pretty good in Pittsburgh and that’s nice to see.”

Bettman also called the Penguins the NHL's model franchise.
 
GAME NOTES
 
> Pittsburgh leads the opening round series over Philadelphia, 1-0, and is 1-0 at Mellon Arena in the postseason.

> Interim head coach Dan Bylsma recorded his first career postseason victory behind the bench.

> Pittsburgh 64 percent of faceoffs in the game by going 38 for 59.

> Scoring Summary:
PIT, S.Crosby PP (1), 4:41 1st period: Penguins 1, Flyers 0
PIT, T.Kennedy (1), 1:39 2nd period: Penguins 2, Flyers 0
PIT, E.Malkin (1), 6:28 3rd period: Penguins 3, Flyers 0
PIT, M.Eaton (1), 10:27 3rd period: Penguins 4, Flyers 0
PHI, M.Knuble PP (1), 15:25 3rd period: Penguins 4, Flyers 1

> Sidney Crosby scored a power-play goal and added an assist.

> Evgeni Malkin, the NHL’s scoring champion, netted a goal and chipped in an assist.

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves in the win.

> Tyler Kennedy scored his first career postseason goal

> Mark Eaton tallied his first career postseason goal.

> Mellon Arena sold out for the 108th straight game with a standing room only attendance of 17,132. The Penguins have sold out every game in the past two seasons. Pittsburgh is 70-29-9 in during that span.
 
THREE STARS QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
   
1. J.Staal, PIT
2. M.Fleury, PIT
3. S.Crosby, PIT
"One of our goals was to set the tone and certainly after the first period ...
I think the whole period long we forced them to play in the
defensive zone a lot, which is one of the situations
we want to keep replicating."
- Dan Bylsma
 

 


Author: Sam Kasan

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