The Comeback Kids
Penguins scratched and clawed to erase two one-goal deficits, including a late score in the third period to force overtime, en route to their 3-2 overtime victory over the Philadelphia Flyers to take a 2-0 series lead in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“It was a pretty even game,” defenseman Brooks Orpik
said. “That’s about as hard as you have to battle to get a point here.”
Guerin netted the first game-tying goal at the 16:38 mark of the second period. The play started in the Penguins end when Crosby intercepted the puck and dished it out to Evgeni Malkin
. Malkin controlled the puck through the neutral zone, eluding a Flyers defenseman, and dishing it to Guerin at the top of the near circle. Guerin wristed the puck over a downed Flyers defender and past goaltender Martin Biron's stick side for the point.
“It’s been a couple years since I’ve been in the playoffs,” Guerin said. “So, just to be a part of this feels really good. To be able to contribute feels even better.”
Malkin was credited with the Penguins’ third period power-play goal that tied the score at 2-2 with just over four minutes left in regulation. Gonchar first passed the puck across the blue line to Kris Letang
, who took a one-timed shot that deflected in off of Malkin’s skate.
Guerin netted the game-winning goal in overtime, his second of the game, to finish off the Penguins comeback in style. Pittsburgh was rewarded a rare five-on-three advantage late in the overtime period when Guerin faked a pass and shot the puck into the top shelf.
”It was late in the period and the ice was choppy. Those guys did a really good job of being patient,” Orpik said. “Those guys did a good job of staying composed and Billy got another one for us.”
The Penguins now head to Philadelphia for the next two games in the series with a 2-0 advantage.
“Obviously 2-0 is a lot different than 1-1, especially going back to their building,” Orpik said.“The (Other) Save”
Frank Pietrangelo is well known in Penguins' circles for "The Save." Marc-Andre Fleury
added his own version with a nail-biting, highlight-reel save in the third period which prevented the Flyers from gaining a 3-1 lead and allowed the Penguins to tie the game and force overtime.
“(A save like that) means the world to the team,” Guerin said. “It gives you a second life. You get energized by that and you realize that your goalie helped keep you in the game. That’s what we ask from him at this time of the year.”
The NHL’s second-leading goal scorer, Jeff Carter, carried the puck into the Penguins zone with a two-on-one advantage. Carter’s attempted cross-crease pass was rejected by Sergei Gonchar’s stick. Fleury slid to his left on the pass but the puck deflect back to Carter, who had an empty net to shoot at. Fleury somehow managed to stop the shot with his toe, saving the game for Pittsburgh.
“I was a little far from the inside post – it wasn’t the best spot,” Fleury sheepishly admitted. “I just tried to get my pad over there and it hit my toe, so it worked out well.”
Indeed, it did work out well for the Penguins, who tied the score at 2-2 just minutes later. Without Fleury’s spectacular save the series could possibly be tied at 1-1.
“The playoffs are all about timely scoring and individual plays that turn the momentum,” Bylsma said. “I haven’t seen the replay other than on the jumbotron looking up, but it looked like a for sure goal – it’s going in – but somehow Marc-Andre gets a pad on it. It’s a remarkable save and certainly kept the game within reach for us at that point.”
Fleury turned away 38 shots in the contest to backstop the Penguins to a victory. At the other end of the ice, Martin Biron also played a solid game, turning aside 46 shots. It was a battle of the goaltenders.
“Both those goalies played unbelievable,” Orpik said. “But that one save Fleury made on that two-on-one where it hit Gonchar’s stick and back to Carter, that was one of the better saves I’ve seen him make.”Papa Guerin
Bill Guerin proved himself to be every bit the veteran the Penguins expected him to be with his game-winning overtime goal. Guerin was patient with the puck, faking a pass and then shooting the puck past the right shoulder of the unsuspecting Biron.
“Tonight, he kept saying the right things and doing the right things,” Bylsma said. “He’s patient - the way he takes a step to the middle, and it looks like he calmly puts it in the net. I’m not sure he was calm on the inside and no one was calm on the bench. That’s what he brings to our room. His experience factor.”
Guerin though, in a typical veteran approach, is already turning his attention to Game 3.
“Bottom line – everyone knows it in the playoffs: one goal, two goals, whatever you do, when the game is over the game is over,” Guerin said. “You have to get ready for the next one.” Chemistry Lesson
Guerin has played for eight NHL teams in his career, but after the Penguins’ second playoff victory he had great things to say about the chemistry in the Penguins locker room.
“This team has incredible chemistry,” Guerin said. “The guys all get along great, which is important. They have fun together, but they also hold each other accountable each and every night. The toughest people to answer to are your peers. I think that’s the great sign of a close team is when you can hold each other accountable like that.”Physical Play
As far as physical play goes, the Penguins exceeded expectations on Friday, outhitting the Flyers 50-29. Orpik racked up 14 hits just by himself. Matt Cooke
and Kunitz each tallied five hits in the contest: Welcome to playoff hockey.
“Tonight it was more of a playoff feel, that’s for sure,” Orpik said.
“This is a game where we were tested,” Bylsma said. “Philadelphia played a good game. They played hard, they were physical and I think they got to their game a number of times throughout the 60 minutes and overtime. Our team had to stay with it. We had to stay focused. We were tested, but our team stayed with it, we stayed in the plan.”
“I think this was a huge win for us, especially because we were at home and to be able to be going to Philly with the 2-0 advantage is pretty big,” Fleury added. “We know this is going to be a fight to the very end and this was a huge win.”