Penguins Shutout Flyers 6-0 and Advance to Stanley Cup Finals!

The Pittsburgh Penguins are the 2008 Eastern Conference Champions after decisively beating the Philadelphia Flyers 6-0 in game 5 on Sunday.  The Penguins maintained their perfect post-season home record.  In fact, the Penguins have won their last 16 home games, a streak that has been intact since February 24th.  Marc-Andre Fluery posted his league-leading 3rd post-season shutout and Sidney Crosby added 2-assists to his point total to regain the league lead in playoff points (21).  The Penguins are advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1992, and will play the winner of the Detroit Red Wings and Dallas Stars Western Conference Championship Series.  If the Stars manage to beat the Red Wings, the Penguins will get home ice.  Otherwise, the first 2-games will be played in Detroit.

Philadelphia Flyers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Five
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In the 1st period, the Penguins jumped out to a quick lead on a power play goal at 2:30.  The Penguins took just 12-seconds to score after Mike Knuble took a hooking call, as Ryan Malone tipped in a shot from the point by Sidney Crosby.  Marian Hossa also assisted on the goal.  At 9:50, the Penguins made it 2-1 on an even strength  goal.  After battling with Ryan Malone behind his net, Martin Biron lost his stick and had to quickly move back into position.  With the play still developing behind the net, Evgeni Malkin managed to recover it and pull it back around on the short side and deflect it in off from Biron’s leg.  Ryan Malone picked up the lone assist.  The Penguins finished the period 1-for-2 on the power play and outshot the Flyers 10-5.  The Penguins killed off their only penalty, but Ryan Malone took a high-stick call at the 20-minute mark that carried over in full to the second period. 

The Penguins started the 2nd period by successfully killing off the Malone penalty before dominating the Flyers in every aspect of the game throug the remainder of the period.  After the penalty expired, the game momentum tilted permanently in the favor of the Penguins after Marc-Andre Fleury stopped back-to-back shots by Daniel Briere and Mike Richards.  Briere threw a hard shot on net that Fleury kicked out with his pads onto the stick of Richards.  Richards attempt was then stoned by another flash pf the pads by Fleury, before the puck was cleared out of danger by Sergei Gonchar.  At 8:24, Sidney Crosby showed how he can dominate at both ends of the ice.  With the Flyers charging into the Penguins zone, a back-checking Crosby picked the pocket of the Flyers offense and reversed the direction of the play.  He then raced to the other end of the ice and made a picture perfect pass from the boards onto the stick of Marian Hossa, who buried the puck behind Biron for his 9th goal of the playoffs.  Max Talbot picked up the other assist on the play.  Then while on the power play at 11:42, Ryan Malone scored his 2nd of the night to make it 4-0 as he deflected a Sergei Gonchar shot past Biron.  Marian Hossa also picked up an assist.  Then, with just 8-seconds left in the period, Jordan Staal scored his 3rd goal in 2-games as he collected a rebound in front of the net and threw it over Biron’s shoulder on the backhand.  Shots were 9-8 in the period in favor of the Penguins, who were 1-for-1 on the power play.

In the 3rd period, the Penguins continued to press the Flyers and never let off the gas.  At 4:03, the Penguins put the final nail in the Flyers’ season as Pascal Dupuis deflected a Marian Hossa shot past Biron to make it 6-0.  Brooks Orpik and Marian Hossa had the assists.  The Flyers outshot the Penguins 8-6 in the final frame, but failed to convert on the lone power play as Hal Gill sat for hooking.

Philadelphia Flyers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Five
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Both Marian Hossa and Marc Andre Fleury have silenced their critics who said before these playoffs that they would not be able to deliver the goods.  Quite the contrary.  Marc-Andre Fleury has posted a 12-2 record with 3-shutouts along the way.  He leads the remaining goaltenders with a 0.935 save percentage, second only to Dan Ellis of Nashville (0.938).  He has given up just 1.83 goals per game, second only to Chris Osgood who has a 1.65 GAA in 2-fewer games played.  What is more impressive is that he has been able to register this performance after a lengthy layoff during the regular season due to a high ankle injury.  As for Marian Hossa, he has put up 19-points (9G, 10A) in 14-games this post-season and he looks like he is just starting to blossom.  One might forget that he is playing on a line that had barely played together before the start of the playoffs due to injuries to both himself and Sidney Crosby. 

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Despite the critics, the entire Penguins team has excelled.  Their big players have played big in the playoffs and their often-criticized defense has shown just how under-rated they have been.  It is for these reasons that the Penguins find themselves with the best record in these playoffs having lost only 2-games, and the most shutouts at 3.  They are also the only team that remains unbeaten on their own ice in these playoffs.  It is certainly impressive and fun to watch this young group of talented players achieve so much as a team, so soon. 

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