It was precisely the kind of start the Penguins were hoping for – Pittsburgh scored early in the first period which led to a 4-1 victory over the Flyers and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“One of our keys to the game was getting off to a good start,” interim head coach Dan Bylsma said. “Certainly we got the advantage there with the power-play goal in the first period, but throughout the period we forced them to play in the defensive zone a lot, which is one of the situations we want to keep replicating.
“Tonight we were able to get out with a lead, get to the offensive zone, and play the game that we wanted to play, especially in the first period. That’s the challenge. We wanted to get that start. We got that start and then we kept that momentum going throughout the game.”
It was the Penguins’ first playoff game since Game 6 of last year’s Stanley Cup Final, but that didn’t affect the Penguins’ mindset.
“It was an important win not just because of last year, but because you want to start the series off right,” captain Sidney Crosby
said. “Especially being at home, you want to start out on the right foot, so, last year is done. We’ll take the experiences from it but I don’t think that was in anybody’s mind. We certainly want to be tough at home and establish that early.”Two Career Firsts
Two Penguins are no long scoreless in postseason play. Forward Tyler Kennedy
and defenseman Mark Eaton each recorded their first career playoff goals in the game.
Kennedy, who scored what proved to be the game-winner, tallied his score during a Pittsburgh three-on-one rush. Kennedy carried the puck into the Flyers zone with Jordan Staal
and Matt Cooke
. Kennedy opted to hold the puck and slid a shot through Martin Biron's five-hole for the score.
"He did a great job obviously and he is so confident that he can get that goal," Staal said. "I'm glad he buried it."
"They took Cookie away so I just put it on net and it went in," Kennedy said.
However, Bylsma disagreed with Kennedy’s assesment.
"I think he was ignoring the other two guys on purpose," Bylsma joked.
Eaton scored on a shot from the far point. Eaton one-timed a pass that deflected off of a Philadelphia player's stick and into the net.
"When you are the last guy in the offensive zone, my job is just to make sure the puck gets through," Eaton said. "You don't want it going off of any pads and have any breakaways the other way. I just wanted the puck to get through."Go North Young Man
Bylsma preaches a North-South system to his players which emphasizes the offensive attack as a way to keep the opponent out of the Penguins own end. So far, the system has been a huge success for the Penguins, who frequently outshoot their opponents and keep the action in the opponent’s zone.
That’s been our mantra since coach Bylsma took over. The more you can play in their offensive zone, that’s the best defense for us, limit their time on our defensive zone. That’s our objective and we try to stay down there as long as we can. - Dan Bylsma
“That’s been our mantra since coach Bylsma took over,” Eaton explained. “The more you can play in their offensive zone, that’s the best defense for us, limit their time on our defensive zone. That’s our objective and we try to stay down there as long as we can.”
The Penguins continually carried the puck north Wednesday night which resulted in a two-goal lead after the first 40 minutes of play.
“We try to play in the offensive zone because the bounces go in your favor,” Bylsma said. “I thought for the most part, and especially in the first period, we did a good job of going north with the puck and making their defense turn. One of our goals was to set the tone and certainly after the first period we accomplished that.”Roster Effort
One of the major storylines with the Flyers is the fact that they boast six players with 20 goals or more. However, the Penguins proved their depth on Wednesday with a diverse group of players chipping in points. The Penguins blue line also played a solid game. Overall, the team contributed 10 hits and 19 blocked shots in the win.
“It takes everyone, right from ‘Flower’ (Marc-Andre Fleury
) on out,” Crosby said. “Fleury made some big saves and our defense did a great job of blocking shots and getting sticks on guys and our forwards came back hard. There are times when guys are going to make mistakes out there but we are there to help a guy out. Or Flower is there to save one, so we need to continue to do that.”
“First and foremost the focus for every individual on our team, and it was clear tonight by the way our guys played, is the team and the different aspects of the team,” Bylsma said. “Those are things you are going to have to get on a roll with, feel good about and execute because you are going to need them in different situations. A lot of guys in some different situations did some good things.”
“We were confident that if we play our game for 60 minutes we were going to give ourselves a good chance to win and I think we were pretty happy with our performance,” Eaton said. “They are a deep team, they are a good team and we need to be ready for that.”One Down, Three to Go
The Penguins might have rolled out to a great start, but there are more games to be played in this series, a fact the Penguins are not taking lightly.
“We played well, we did a pretty good job, but it’s only one game,” Eaton said. “We need to keep building and keep going. They played well and had their opportunities and we are going to be ready for that Friday.”
“We were opportunistic, guys chipped in, we buried our chances around the net and we know how they are going to play,” Bylsma said. “They are a proud team and they played hard until the end and we won, 4-1. We got one win and now we have to move on.”