Malkin's 3 points gives Penguins 1-0 series lead
Pittsburgh tops Philadelphia 4-2 to take 1-0 series lead
Game #1 – Pittsburgh Penguins 4 – Philadelphia Flyers 2
The Penguins continued their run for the Stanley Cup by beating the Flyers 4-2 in Game #1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Pittsburgh’s record in the playoffs is now 9-1, with the only loss coming to the Rangers. Marc-Andre Fleury played great while Martin Biron was not as good as in the previous playoff series, thanks in part to Evgeni Malkin’s 3-point night.
The first 20 minutes were as wild and crazy as expected. Petr Sykora opened the scoring 6:19 into the game, assisted by Ryan Malone and Evgeni Malkin to give the Pens’ a 1-0 lead. The one goal margin lasted less than 2 minutes as Mike Richards popped in the tying goal plus he added another goal at the 12:50 mark to give the Flyers’ the 2-1 lead. Sidney Crosby tallied the equalizer while Malkin scored the third goal for the Pens’ with 7 seconds left in the period to take a 3-2 into second period.
The rest of the game saw one more goal scored by Malkin for his second of game and third point of the night. It came shorthanded, where he missed a break-away, got hit hard after the shot, and got back up very wobbly. As he was heading the bench Ryan Whitney fed Malkin another breakaway pass who decided not to go fancy, but just hammer a slap shot from the slot past Biron to give the Penguins a 4-2 lead and eventual victory.
This win gives Pittsburgh the 1-0 lead in the series, but more importantly, convinced them that Biron is human. The Pens are on a hot streak winning 9 of their last 10 playoffs games and look to be unstoppable. Philadelphia is going to have to do much better defensively or this may be a sweep.
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Here are the key factors in this series as stated in our 2008 Eastern Conference finals preview:
Malkin recorded 3 points (2 goals, 1 assist) including the game-winner. Briere finished the game with a -2 plus/minus and an ear full from Jarkko Ruutu every time the play stopped. Whatever he is saying, is working.
Biron was not the same Biron that got the Flyers here. He only faced 21 shots and yet he allowed 4 goals. That is a save percentage of .810 while Fleury’s was .920 who was hit with 7 more pucks. If these numbers continue, it will be an early exit for Philly.
This game really proved the importance of Kimmo Timonen. His skill was missed, but his speed was missed more. The Pens were avoided hits and winning almost every puck race. Every single defenseman on the Flyers’ finished in the minus, except for Jaroslav Modry. Braydon Coburn needs to do more with his 25 minutes on the ice.
The game was very even at first and quickly became a one horse race. What I saw Friday night gives me reason to believe this series may be done earlier that I predicted. The Flyers need a spark on the offense, while Biron’s expectations are not being fulfilled in the net. Ugly start for Philadelphia on every scale.
Pittsburgh leads series 1-0.
By Kevin Chaves
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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