The Whiteout looked pretty good, I thought. I don't mind if the Pens are wearing black while the fans wear white. It's the unity of letting the visitors know they don't have much of any support in the building.
So it was almost business as usual for the Pens. Get the win at home to start the series. Game 2 will be huge - the Flyers will be desperate to get the split.
First off, the Versus guys really aren't doing very well so far. They started the game without giving the starting lineups, and they didn't mention who was scratched. We got one mention about Timonen, but nothing other than that. Lame.
Both teams were a bit tight out of the gate. That was exemplified best by Ryan Whitney putting a backhand clearing attempt over the glass from his own zone, resulting in the only power play of the first period.
The Flyers managed a few shots, but nothing serious. The Pens killed off the penalty with no damage done.
Geno was flying early in the first, and his speed paid off on a turnover at the Pens' blue line. Malkin took the puck, went to the left to Malone. Bugsy whipped the puck all the way across the ice to Sykora, who deftly flipped a backhand over Biron who appeared to be out of position. You could almost say the shot was Ruutu-like. 1-0 Pens.
The Flyers tied the game when Mike Richards faked a shot, got Fleury to commit and then tried a wrap-around. It would have gone harmlessly through the crease (Richards was about a step short), except that Flower was diving back to stop the attempt and it deflected off of his pads and into the net. 1-1 tie.
Not long after that, the Flyers showed the blueprint on how they're going to have to win games - they got the puck to the net and then ferociously crashed the net. Three players converged on Lupul, allowing Richards to pick the puck out of the pile and easily deposit it over a downed Fleury. 2-1 Flyers.
Just when you started to feel like things might be bleak, Sid redirected a Hossa shot after Biron had played the puck one direction and gone the opposite way to get back around the net. Not a good play by Marty. 2-2 tie.
Fleury was able to make a great poke check save on Umberger on a mini-breakaway. The Pens will need Flower to be huge like that.
Then, with time ticking down in the period, the dagger arrived. The Pens had applied some good pressure, courtesy of Malkin's line, and the Flyers cleared the puck with 15 second left in the period. Before you could say "locker room", Whitney had found Malkin near the right wing boards. Geno took the puck, walked in and blasted a wrist shot that found the net to the far side of Biron. Probably a bad goal to allow, especially considering the time on the clock. 3-2 Pens.
One thing that was obvious to me in the first is that the Flyers weren't able to compete with the speed of the Pens. Both Crosby's line and Malkin's line were flying. The Flyers will need to respond with grit and determination if they want to compete over the series.
If you have Game 1 between the Flyers and Pens, why do you put a feature about Brian Rafalski growing up in Michigan on during the first intermission? Who thinks this is a good idea? I like Rafalski as much as the next guy, but a relatively obscure name from a team in the other conference?
Things slowed down a bit in the second.
The Flyers were awarded a power play on what looked like a solid hit by Brooks Orpik. Even if it was a penalty, it was worth two minutes to see Hartnell get crunched.
On the ensuing power play, Geno had a short handed chance and was plastered by Mike Richards. He took a minute getting himself up, and then when the Flyers didn't get the puck deep, he stayed behind the defense to see if anything good would happen (this is more commonly known as cherry-picking).
Something good did happen, as the Flyers turned the puck over just inside the Pens' blue line, and Gonchar fed Geno for a breakaway.
Malkin did a move I think could be best described as "EAT IT!" He took a slapshot from 10 feet out that blasted by Biron. Pretty unusual to see a guy do that, but could there have been a more appropriate way to answer the hitting of Richards? 4-2 Pens.
The Pens got their first power play when Carter accidentally hooked Hal Gill. It was inadvertent, but he did put the USS Gill on the merry-go-round and took him for a spin.
The Pens had the power play on the backside of the 4 on 4, but they couldn't do anything with it.
The rest of the period was grind it out hockey. There was some puck possession and some cycling by the Pens, but nothing that amounted to any scoring. Hossa had a nice chance but couldn't stretch out far enough to beat Biron.
Heading to the third, no one had done anything stupid, and the Pens had the Dreaded Two Goal Lead.
Okay - a feature on Mario Lemieux - that's a bit better, but why couldn't we get features on the players involved in this game? Or get one from each side? Who makes this mystifying decisions?
No dice for the Flyers. They were unable to beat Fleury, and until a late bit of pressure, they didn't really challenge him either.
For the first 14 minutes of the third, the Flyers only had three shots on goal. During the remainder of the period, all but one shot was from FIFTY feet or further.
Simply put, the Pens put the sleeper hold on them. Randy Jones hit the outside of the post/crossbar, and Jeff Carter had a decent chance when the puck rolled off of his stick, but there wasn't much else.
Ryan Malone missed the empty net, and there were some shenanigans late. The real question is if the Flyers lose game two, will they try the five on five fight nonsense they did last time?
- Biron - 21 shots - 4 goals - ouch!
- Malkin wasn't backing down from anyone tonight. He has the size to take care of himself.
- Hossa was shrugging guys off like they were flies in the offensive zone.
- Besides Richards, did you notice anyone from the Flyers having a particularly good game after the first period? I didn't.
- Ruutu sure does like to stretch out his shifts... it helps his cause that he's on the far side of the ice from the bench.