by Tony on 04/25/09 at 08:41 PM ET
It looked like a continuation of Game Five.
The Flyers got a nice bounce of the puck and took advantage of some shoddy Penguins’ defense to surge out to a 3-0 second period lead at the Wachovia Center.
But the frantic Flyers’ crowd wasn’t happy too much longer, as the Penguins finally starting getting some bounces going their way, and Sergei Gonchar’s third period goal turned out to be the series-clincher as the Penguins closed out the Flyers, 5-3.
It has to be a crushing loss for the Flyers, who arguably were the better team in at least two of the four games the Penguins won. Of course, that doesn’t count on the scoreboard, and it’s the Flyers who will be the ones on the golf course soon.
It couldn’t have started much better for Philly, as two-way beast Mike Richards stole the puck from Max Talbot (more on him in a minute), and put a backhanded shot on net that Marc-Andre Fleury. But in doing so, Fleury got out of his net, and Mike Knuble was there to poke the puck to the top shelf giving the Flyers a 1-0 lead with 2:12 left in the first.
But they weren’t done. Not even a minute later Joffrey Lupul took advantage of Kris Letang being way out of position and fired a slapper from the right slot to the top shelf past Fleury to make it 2-0.
The Flyers continued the momentum early in the second period. Danny Briere burnt Brooks Oprik on a give and go with Simon Gagne and fired a wrister past Fleury to give the Flyers a 3-0 lead, and it really looked like the route was on. I have to admit, I was already thinking about Game Seven.
But that’s when a curious fight occurred between former Penguin farmhand Daniel Carcillo and Max Talbot. Carcillo probably got the decision in the fight over Talbot, but many people have already said it provided the Penguins with a spark. I don’t know about that, truthfully. Talbot didn’t do anything spectacular to warrant the boost in momentum. Now, should have Carcillo accepted to fight ?? Absolutely not.
That said, only 14 seconds after the fight, Evgeni Malkin shifted it into a gear not seen for a few games. Malkin took control of the puck behind the Flyers’ net, and came around to fire a wraparound that Marty Biron initially stopped, but Malkin poked the puck to get it underneath Biron. Ruslan Fedotenko then was able to poke it once again past Biron and into the net to cut the Flyers’ lead to 3-1 at the 4:35 mark of the second period.
The Penguins struck again a couple of minutes later when on a 4-on-4 Fedotenko took control of a loose puck and fed it to Tyler Kennedy. Kennedy skated in on Biron and fired a wrister that Biron stopped but left a big rebound. Mark Eaton pinched in and was able to bat the puck out of the air and past Biron to make it 3-2 Flyers.
They completed their comeback late in the second period when Bill Guerin brought the puck the length of the ice and down the left-hand boards. Guerin then fired a backhanded shot to the net that Biron stopped with a stick save, but the puck rebounded once again into the air. And, once again, a Penguin was there to bat the puck out of the air and into the net. This time it was Sidney Crosby to score the goal with 3:01 left in the second, and the Flyers’ crowd was stunned.
If they were stunned then, they were shocked a couple of minutes into the third period when Malkin brought the puck into the Flyers’ zone and left it for Gonchar. Gonchar took his time and then fired a slapper from the right slot that Biron couldn’t stop and the Penguins suddenly had the lead 4-3 with 17:41 left.
The Flyers certainly had their chances to tie it up. Mike Richards had a wide open net but Rob Scuderi was there for a diving poke check. Claude Giroux hit the post midway through the period. But the biggest chance was the wrister by Lupul that Fleury stopped with his left skate with about five minutes left.
From there, the Penguins eventually got the empty net with about a minute left and Crosby was there again to steal the puck and make an initial scoring attempt to the open net but was wide. Crosby grabbed the rebound, swung around the net and backhanded it to the open net and the 5-3 series win.
- Great series. The Penguins will be a better team after having to go through Philadelphia.
- Big game for Eaton. Besides the huge goal, was a team-high +4. Conversely, Richards and Kimmo Timonen were -3.
- Yet another gooseegg for the Penguins’ powerplay, going 0-for-3.
- 4 blocked shots for Gonchar.
- 4 hits awarded to Kunitz.
The Penguins should get several days off now, having to wait for the completion of the Caps/Rangers and Devils/Canes series.
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Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.
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