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Puck (un)luck to blame in Pens' Game 2 loss

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Nothing quite sums up NHL playoff action like Games 1 and 2 of the Pens-Flyers First Round matchup.

The Pens completely dominated the Flyers in every facet of Game 1, leading to a 7-0 win that matched the club record for largest margin of victory (twice accomplished before).

But just two days later, the Flyers flipped the script with a 5-1 victory on Friday night at PPG Paints Arena to even the series at 1-1.

Let's get one thing straight. The Pens probably deserved a better fate for their efforts. Pittsburgh outshot Philadelphia, 35-20, in the game and tilted the ice in its favor. The Pens brought a strong battle level and competed on every loose puck, all the way to the bitter end. In fact, there wasn't much difference in play for Pittsburgh in from Game 1 to Game 2.

So what was the difference between their Game 1 victory and Game 2 loss? Certainly, special teams was a factor.

The Pens went 0 for 4 on the man-advantage, an unusually off night for a unit that had been so lethal in the regular season. Meanwhile, the Flyers connected for two power-play goals in the contest.

But this was more than just a couple of power-play goals. The real culprit tonight for the Pens' loss is more simple: Puck luck. Or more accurately, the lack thereof.

* In the first period with the game still scoreless winger Patric Hornqvist whipped a shot on net that eluded Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott, but clanked off of the outside post.

* Later in the same period, Hornqvist again threw a puck on net from the lower circle that glanced off of the red pipe.

* Early in the second period, Philly scored its second goal of the game to take a 2-0 lead when Sean Couturier's centering pass deflected off of defenseman Kris Letang and into the net. An unfortunate bounce against.

* With the Flyers holding a 2-0 lead halfway through the frame the Pens generated a 4-on-2 rush and worked the puck to Riley Sheahan. His shot, you guessed it, went off of the crossbar and out of play.

* As time was running out in the second period the Pens were working on a power play. Phil Kessel carried the puck toward the slot and goes across to Sidney Crosby at the side of the net. Crosby had an empty net and only had to tap the puck easily across the goal line. Instead the puck overshot the goal and missed wide of the far post. Crosby, in frustration, broke his stick on the net and the period expired.

Crosby's miss perfectly encapsulates this game. Crosby finishes that play 99 times out of 100. Tonight was that one time in which the puck didn't go in.

The series will shift to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4. And if we've learned anything from the opening two games of this affair, it's to expect the unexpected in Game 3 Sunday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center.

Only in hockey can the outcome of a game be so drastically different from game to game. The Flyers were embarrassed in Game 1 and they responded with a clutch victory in Game 2 to even the series.

This series has been turned upside down. And now it's the Pens' turn to respond.

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