Penguins hold 2-1 lead over Flyers: Crosby, Malkin power Penguins offense

Matt Rushforth, Assistant Sports Editor

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     The Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins have been rivals since the beginning of both organizations’ existence, a matchup otherwise known as another professional sports version of “the battle for Pennsylvania”. After three games of play in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Penguins hold a 2-1 lead over the Flyers.

     The first game of the series showed why the Penguins are back-to-back Stanley Cup champions, and in search for their third consecutive Cup and sixth in franchise history. The Penguins came out on their home ice and held nothing back, running past the Flyers by a score of 7-0 on April 12. Thirty-year-old captain Sidney Crosby continued his hall of fame career and netted his third career postseason hat-trick in the victory.

     From the beginning of the game to the end, the Penguins were pedal to the medal. The goals started just two minutes into the game with a tally from Brian Rust to give Pittsburgh fans something to cheer about just minutes in. Forward Carl Hagelin then put one past Flyers goaltender Brian Elliot about ten minutes in, which was followed by an electrifying highlight reel back hand goal from superstar Evgeni Malkin.

     But all eyes were on Sidney Crosby as he batted the puck out of mid-air over Philadelphia goaltender Brian Elliot. Crosby then went on to put it another highlight reel goal off a redirection, again to the top shelf. Both goals showed the greatness of the three-time Stanley Cup Champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist.

     The second game in Pittsburgh showed a different Flyers team, as the previously pulled goaltender Brian Elliot stopped 34 Penguins’ shots. All five Flyers goals were scored by different players, which ambushed head coach Dave Hakstol with questions on what he did differently in Game 2. It put a smile on Hakstol’s face when he admitted the Flyers changed nothing in their lineup from Game 1 in Game 2. Just another reason for hockey fans to love the playoffs, each game brings a whole new story.

     Game 2 also brought a different Sidney Crosby, as the star was denied by Elliot on a break-away and missed a wide-open goal that he normally wouldn’t have a problem putting in the back of the net. Crosby was held pointless in the Game 2 Flyers victory.

     The loss made it Penguins’ goaltender Matt Murray’s third loss out of his 17-home playoff starts. The 22-year-old made just 15 saves in the loss.
Game 3 brought tons of hype as the series traveled to Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia with the teams knotted 1-1. Sidney Crosby expected nothing less as he was booed the first time the announcer said his name and the first time he touched the puck. There were also pictures all over the web of a picture of Crosby in every urinal at Wells Fargo Arena.

     But Crosby came back to his normal self in Game 3 as he put together a four-point night off a goal and three assists in a 5-1 win for the Penguins, putting them up in the series 2-1. It was entertaining watching Crosby have a big smile on his face when he silenced Wells Fargo Arena with a wraparound goal midway through the opening period.

     Evgeni Malkin also tallied a goal in Game 3 off a one-timer on the power play in the second period. A bullet to the top shelf off a slap shot from Malkin again proved how dangerous the Penguins can be when they are up a man on the ice. Pittsburgh scored a league leading 25 percent of the time on power plays in the regular season.

     Crosby was then involved in a goal just five seconds later as he won the faceoff at center ice and dangled his way into the Philadelphia zone to find a leading Brian Dumoulin, who went on to put one through Elliot’s legs, giving the Penguins a 4-0 lead midway through the second period.

     Game 4 is a big one at Wells Fargo Arena and you can count on the Philadelphia fans to be as loud and rambunctious as ever as the Flyers look to knot the series up at two games a-piece.