Inconsistency has been the hallmark of this team in over the past month. That was the defining characteristic again last night.
The first period was excellent. After that, things were not so good.
The Pens jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one period. They dominated the game over the first 10 minutes, scoring twice and forcing Laviolette to call timeout. I thought when the Pens scored late in the first to make it 3-0 that they were on their way.
It was not to be, however. Danny Briere scored on a breakaway, though he was clearly offside. He scored again in the third period on a flukey goal from the half-wall when Sid screened Fleury and neither could stop the shot. That was when you had an idea that things might not work out well. Briere also was plastered by Brooks Orpik, drawing the Flyers only power play chance, which they converted to tie the game at 3-3.
I won't even talk about the OT.
The power play let them down as well. The Pens had three chances but weren't able to generate a serious threat. They look good on the rush, but if the Flyers sit back and force the Pens to set up and make a play in the zone, they're not able to do it. That needs to be better. It was what killed them last year against the Lightning.
The main problem is that the Flyers focused on playing hockey and the Pens weren't able to match them in the latter two periods. That's the key for the rest of the series - can the Pens find a way to dictate the play? When they do, they put themselves in a great spot to win games. When they don't, like last night, things don't go well.
If they aren't able to figure it out, this series won't go very well either.