Entering their first-round Stanley Cup showdown, the Penguins and Flyers were about as evenly matched as you could get. So it is no surprised to anyone that Philadelphia survived elimination with a 3-0 victory at Mellon Arena Thursday night and will force a Game 6.
“Going into the playoffs everybody knew that it was not going to be easy, especially playing against a team like the Flyers because they always play with heart and they never give up,” blueliner Sergei Gonchar said. “Obviously, it would have been nice to finish (the series Thursday) but that didn’t happen so (Saturday) we have to be focused and make sure we are ready because it’s going to be a tough game.”
“We know they are going to be energized,” Sidney Crosby
said. “We have to play a solid road game. We’ve been in this situation, we’ve played there, a lot of us four or five times in the playoffs so we know what to expect.”
The 3-0 loss was not an indication of how close the game actually was. Pittsburgh dominated the play early, outshooting the Flyers 15-5 in the first period, but ran into a stellar performance by Philadelphia netminder Martin Biron.
“The first period we had yesterday was great,” defenseman Brooks Orpik
said. “We had them back on their heels. We played in their zone most of the period. I thought we had all of the momentum there. I think guys just got a little frustrated that we came out of the period 0-0 with the way we played. Sometimes you run into hot goalies and you just have to stay with it and keep playing the way we were playing in the first period.”
“It’s playoff hockey and there are going to be changes of momentum,” Crosby said. “It comes down to execution. If we put two goals in during the first period (Thursday) night, we’re not talking about this problem. The game comes down to execution and both teams are going to get their chances and it’s a matter of putting them in.”
The Penguins still hold a 3-2 series advantage and can advance to the next round of the playoffs with a win in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon. The Penguins are trying to forget about Game 5 and concentrate on ending the series in Game 6.
“We always talk about when you win a game in a series you enjoy it for a little while and then you move on,” veteran forward Bill Guerin said. “You have to do the same with a loss, you have to think about it for a little bit but then it’s time to move on and get ready for the next game and that’s what we are trying to do here. Guys are upbeat, we’re still confident.”
“We realize it’s a big challenge,” Crosby said. “(Thursday) night is done with. We are up 3-2 with a chance to close it out. It’s a good challenge for us going in there. They are going to be desperate again and we need a big game from everyone.”
The Penguins remain confident and positive heading into Game 6. Despite the ups and downs of the series, the Pittsburgh still leads the series and has a second chance to close it out.
“You’re up 3-2, that’s the bottom line,” he said. “I don’t think it matters how you win games, you just have to find a way to win games. Maybe we are lucky to be in the position that we are in, but it is what it is. We’re one game away from moving on. That’s how guys have to look at it.”