Friday, April 17, 2009

Penguins 3, Flyers 2 (OT)

Instant playoff classic.

This one had a bit of everything, and the Boys of Winter did not disappoint.

The Flyers played a great game. They brought everything they left out of Game 1, and then some. They had a few moments that weren't what they needed them to be, and it cost them... big time.

The Pens were in a hole for much of the night. The Flyers, by withstanding the early charge, showed that this was different than Wednesday night. The Pens, to their credit, didn't stop coming (they had double-digit shots in every period).

The Flyers grabbed the early lead on a deflection power play goal by Hartnell. It was painful watching him celebrate. Fortunately, he wasn't much of a factor for the rest of the evening. He amazingly stayed out of the penalty box.

The Pens, just when it seemed they might never score, tied the game on a great goal by Bill Guerin late in the second period. Geno threw a great pass across, getting it past Gagne and over to Guerin, who beat Biron.

Sadly, the only thing that goal did was make the break between periods a bit more tolerable. As soon as the third started, Staal couldn't get much on a puck in front of a wide open net (he had a bad angle) and Darroll Powe (who?) scored coming down the wing to give the Flyers the lead.

The Flyers almost made it 3-1 when Fleury somehow stopped Carter from depositing the puck into a WIDE open cage. It was a save with what looked like the front of his skate blade. Unbelievable. The guy on Versus had it right - it was a great save, but Carter (a 46 goal scorer) HAS to score there. That was one of the two big mistakes the Flyers made tonight.

The Flyers did a great job of sitting on that lead, until a hooking call on Carter put the Pens on the power play with about four minutes left to play. It may have been a weak hook, but it was a power move by Staal. It was also karmic retribution from earlier in the game when Hartnell blatantly threw his stick at the puck, which should have been a penalty shot (nothing was called).

The power play showed up when Geno deflected a Letang shot off of his knee and behind Biron. HUGE goal late in the game.

In OT, things were going pretty well until the last 5 minutes of the period. Gill decided that Briere, who was on his knees, didn't really need to get up, and applied a crosscheck to him. That earned the USS Gill two minutes in dry dock.

The Pens killed most of the penalty, but Mike Knuble must have felt sorry for Gill sitting over in the penalty box, because he applied a pretty dumb crosscheck of his own, right to the back of Brooks Orpik while both were standing in front of Fleury. REALLY dumb - there was no need.

30 seconds later, Claude Giroux slashed Kunitz's stick, breaking it on a rush into the offensive zone, breaking it. There was no choice for the refs there - that's an automatic call. You almost felt bad for Giroux... almost.

The Pens had the two man advantage for 1:30. They only needed 1:04. Gonchar worked the puck down low to Guerin, who waited patiently for Biron to slide ever so slightly off of his post. As soon as Marty started moving, Guerin made the only move that counted, notching his second goal of the game and giving the Pens the victory.

A few notes:
  • A really great game by both teams. There was some nastiness, but none of the stupidity that was present on Wednesday.
  • Brooks Orpik - 14 hits (that's not a typo).
  • The Pens fourth line was a strategic strength. Bylsma was able to use them more than Stevens was able to use his. I think that contributed to fresher legs in the OT for the big guns, who had an extended shift on the 5-on-3.
  • Sunday will be HUGE.
Next up: A Sunday afternoon showdown in Philly.

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