Talk about a turn of events.
In a 3-0 series hole, the Pittsburgh Penguins faced elimination and the notion of being swept by their cross-state rival Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers had dominated the series to this point, scoring eight goals in each of their previous two games and erasing multi-goal deficits as they’d been doing all season long.
Tonight, a sense of urgency clearly kicked in for Pittsburgh. We didn’t see the Dan Bylsma hockey that won the Penguins a Stanley Cup in 2009 and led the team to the second-most wins in the entire National Hockey League in 2011 despite missing Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal each for half of the season, but we saw what this squad is capable of offensively.
The Penguins potted 10 goals en route to a 10-3 victory. Here’s what happened:
|01:16||PHI||-PPG Claude Giroux (5) Wrist – ASST: J. Jagr (5) AND W. Simmonds (2)|
|03:37||PIT||Evgeni Malkin (1) Backhand – ASST: P. Dupuis (4) AND R. Park (1)|
|08:05||PIT||-PPG - Matt Niskanen (1) Slap – ASST: S. Crosby (4) AND S. Sullivan (3)|
|15:06||PHI||-PPG - Kimmo Timonen (1) Slap – ASST: C. Giroux (5) AND D. Briere (2)|
|15:52||PHI||-PPG - Jakub Voracek (2) Snap – ASST: W. Simmonds (3) AND S. Hartnell (3)|
|16:19||PIT||Sidney Crosby (3) ASST: M. Niskanen (2) AND E. Malkin (5)|
|17:29||PIT||Jordan Staal (3) Wrist – ASST: E. Tangradi(1) AND M. Cooke (2)|
|03:07||PIT||-PPG - Kris Letang (1) Snap – ASST: S. Crosby (5) AND S. Sullivan (4)|
|07:21||PIT||-PPG - Jordan Staal (4) Snap – ASST: T. Kennedy (1) AND M. Cooke (3)|
|10:55||PIT||-PPG - Steve Sullivan (1) Slap – ASST: M. Fleury (1)|
|14:59||PIT||Pascal Dupuis (2) Snap – ASST: C. Kunitz(3)|
|16:03||PIT||Jordan Staal (5) Snap – ASST: D. Engelland(1)|
|04:04||PIT||Evgeni Malkin (2) Snap – ASST: C. Kunitz (4) AND T. Kennedy (2)|
With 40-goal scorer James Neal suspended for the match, Jordan Staal had the best night of all, coming up with a hat trick.Malkin had a goal and two assists, and Crosby had a decent night as well, with his behind-the-back deflection goal and two assists. That wasn’t good enough for one of the game’s stars, though – at least in Philadelphia.
The game was called tightly all night. Of the eight penalty calls in the first period (five on Pittsburgh, three on the Flyers), I would guess maybe three of them would have been called in the first three games of the series. That lasted all night.
The Penguins’ power play went 4/9, though Philadelphia had a better success rate, going 3/5.
While an offensive outburst like this is always welcomed, the best part of the night was probably the play of Marc-Andre Fleury.
After being pulled for Brent Johnson after two periods on Sunday and having allowed 17 goals in less than three games, Fleury looked like the Fleury of 2009 tonight. He made numerous saves at key points in the game and was very solid after allowing three goals in the first period.
If Fleury can keep the confidence he played with in the final two periods going into next game, the Penguins stand a chance.
I know it’s cliche, but it’s extremely important to remember that this was a single game. On Friday, the Penguins will still be down 3-1 in the series. They’ll still need to win three straight games. It won’t matter whether the Penguins won by a goal or seven goals tonight. It’ll be 0-0 when the puck drops, and they’ll still have to outscore the Flyers.
They will have confidence, though. After being vastly outplayed in the first three games of the series, maybe a little confidence will go a long way, especially in the case of Marc-Andre Fleury.
Until then, we wait.
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