Thursday, April 19, 2012

Round One, Game Four: Penguins vs. Flyers Recap

Live to fight another day. That was the mission for the Pittsburgh Penguins when they arrived at Wells Fargo Center to take on the Philadelphia Flyers in a game that saw the end of their season as a possible outcome. Mission accomplished. Not only did the Penguins live to fight another day, they reversed roles. The Penguins looked like the Penguins again and the Flyers looked like the Flyers again. There is still a long way to climb but the message has been sent that it is not going to be easy.

Scoring the first goal is just about the worst thing that a team can do in this series. The Penguins scored first in the three games prior to Wednesday night and lost. The Flyers shared that same fate. Claude Giroux put Philly on the board first with his fifth goal of the series. Evgeni Malkin finally welcomed himself to the playoffs when he scored to tie the game. The goal was his first playoff goal since the Pens played Ottawa in the first round of the 2010 playoffs.

One thing that was made apparent from the start was that the referees would not tolerate what happened in Game Three which saw Craig Adams, Arron Asham, and James Neal all get suspended. Penalties were called for the smallest of infractions and power plays were aplenty. Matt Niskanen gave the Pens the lead in the first period with a power play goal. The Penguins got themselves in trouble late in the period when they took three penalties in the span of 50 seconds. With the extended power play, the Flyers capitalized to take the lead on power play goals by Kimmo Timonen and Jakub Voracek.

The lead for the Flyers was short lived. Just 27 seconds after Voracek's goal, Sidney Crosby scored off of a deflection of a shot by Niskanen from the point. And Jordan Staal scored his first of an eventual hat trick to give the Penguins the lead going into the first intermission and for good.

The second period was all Penguins, all the time. They scored on the first three power plays that they earned in the period. After the first one which Kris Letang scored, Ilya Bryzgalov was pulled from the net in favor of Sergei Bobrovsky and he had no better luck. Pascal Dupuis and Staal scored to cap off a five goal period. Staal's goal was his second of the period and gave him the hat trick.

Malkin scored his second goal of the game early in the third period and that capped off a 10-3 victory for the Penguins. And what was even more promising than the 10 goals was the fact that Marc-Andre Fleury didn't allow a goal in the final two periods. If he gets hot, that could be the best chance that the Pens have.

As hard as the referees tried, there was still some extracurricular activities that could possibly lead to suspensions. This time, it was the Flyers getting frustrated. Zac Rinaldo was issued a double minor and a game misconduct for hitting Zbynek Michalek in the head and then punching him in the face with both hands while he was on his knees. Pavel Kubina could also be hearing from the league after a cross check on Matt Cooke who shockingly was been the one guy in this series who has kept his cool.

One shift at a time. One period at a time. One game at a time. That is the mindset for the Penguins right now and it should be. Looking ahead is not an option because there will be nothing to look ahead to if business is not taken care of. The first of four do or die games was a success. Now they need to come home where they have had little success against the Flyers and do it again.

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