Magnificent Malkin Scores 2 as Pens Win Game 1

The Pittsburgh Penguins continued their unbeaten record at home in these playoffs as they beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night.  Evgeni Malkin was the star of the show as he picked up 3-points (2G, 1A), to include his first career short-handed goal.  With 17-points (8G, 9A), Malkin now leads all scorers in the NHL post-season.  Sidney Crosby, who picked up his 3rd goal of the post-season, is tied for second in scoring with 15-points (3G, 12A).  Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 26-of-28 shots for a 0.929 save percentage and extended his playoff record to 9-1 this season. 

In the first period, the Penguins struck first at 6:19 on a beautiful backhander by Petr Sykora that hog-tied Philadelphia netminder Martin Biron.  Working up the middle of the ice, Evgeni Malkin passed the puck to Ryan Malone on the left wing and continued to drive to the net.  With the defensemen backing up on Malkin’s drive, Malone fed a cross-ice pass through an open lane to Petr Sykora coming down the right side.  Sykora kept the puck on his forehand until Biron made a move, and then quickly shifted to his backhand and lifted the puck over Biron and into the net to make it 1-0.  But the Flyers battled back just a little over two minutes later as Mike Richards beat Marc-Andre Fleury on a scrambling wraparound that deflected off the back of Fleury’s leg and into the net.  The play was briefly reviewed after the referee lost sight of the puck to confirm that the puck went into the net before the whistle.  R.J. Umberger and Brandon Coburn were credited with the assists.  With the score tied 1-1, the Flyers continued to crash the Penguins net until it paid dividends at 12:50 as Mike Richards picked up his 2nd goal of the night by collecting the trash and whipping it into the net.  Joffrey Lupul and R.J. Umberger picked up the assists on the play to make it 2-1 Flyers.  At 14:11, the Penguins tied it back up on a beautiful redirect by Sidney Crosby off from a hard pass by Marian Hossa along the boards.  But the play of the period goes to Evgeni Malkin with just 6.9-seconds left in the period as he took a Ryan Whitney pass at the Flyers blueline and walked it in and picked the far corner of the net to make it 3-2.  The Penguins killed off the only penalty of the period, and were alightly outshot 12-11  by the Flyers. 

In the 2nd period, the game tightened up significantly over the 1st with the Flyers outshooting the Penguins just 7-6.  At 3:35, Brooks Orpik took a holding call behind the Penguins net to put the Flyers on the power play.  With about one minute killed off in the penalty, Evgeni Malkin got the puck and drove down to the Flyers net where he was pummeled into the boards by Mike Richards.  As the play moved back up ice, Malkin was slow to get up and trailed the play back to the blueline.  In the opposite end, Marian Hossa knocked Mike Richards off the puck allowing Sergei Gonchar to then make a long up-ice feed to Malkin who was still hanging at the blueline.  Malkin skated the puck in all alone short-handed in front of Biron and let a wicked slapshot go from 15-feet out that beat Biron mercilessly to make it 4-2.  It was the perfect answer to the hit placed on him by Mike Richards, and was particularly special as it was Malkin’s first career short-handed goal.  The Penguins ended the period 0-for-1 on the powerplay and successfully killed of their only penalty.

Malkin

 

Philadelphia Flyers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game One
Image details: Philadelphia Flyers v Pittsburgh Penguins – Game One served by picapp.com

Despite pressing in the 3rd period, the Flyers were unable to solve Marc-Andre Fleury as he turned aside all 9-shots thrown at him.  The Penguins, looking to protect the lead only managed 4-shots on net in the final frame.  At 18:32, there was a gathering near the Penguins end of the ice as one of the Flyers players put a late hit on Kris Letang.  Both teams mixed it up with pushing, shoving and face-washing.  In the end, it was Malkin for roughing, Hatcher for  roughing and Upshall for cross-checking and a game misconduct.  As a result, the Penguins played the last minute and a half on the powerplay. 

The Penguins and Flyers meet up again at Mellon Arena on Sunday night as the Penguins look to extend their home ubeaten record and take a 2-game lead over the Flyers.  In other news, Pittsburgh’s Wilkes-Barre team beat the Flyers’ Phantoms farm club Friday night to win that AHL playoff series in five games.

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