The Pittsburgh Penguins met a much different team on Friday night than the one that showed up on Wednesday, but they came away victorious and took an ever important 2-0 series lead over the Philadelphia Flyers. It took the better part of 4 periods and two come from behind goals for the Penguins to seal the deal by a score of 3-2. In the end, it ultimately came down to poor discipline on behalf of the Flyers that lead to a minute and a half 5-on-3 sudden death powerplay opportunity for the Penguins. The game winning goal came off from the stick of Bill Guerin with just 1:31 left in the first overtime period while Mike Knuble (cross checking) and Claude Giroux (slashing) sat in the penalty box for the Flyers. The 5-on-3 opportunity for the Penguins came after they successfully killed of a minute and half of their own penalty on Hal Gill (cross checking). To the credit of the officiating staff, none of the three calls in overtime were questionable.
For Bill Guerin, the game winner was his second goal of the night as he also scored the Penguins’ first goal, an even strength tally that tied the score at 1-1 in the 2nd period. “It’s been a couple years since I’ve been in the playoffs,” Guerin said after the game. “So, just to be a part of this feels really good. To be able to contribute feels even better.” At age 38, Guerin has brought the veteran presence that the Penguins need, both on and off the ice. “Tonight, he kept saying the right things and doing the right things,” Bylsma said. “He’s patient – the way he takes a step to the middle, and it looks like he calmly puts it in the net. I’m not sure he was calm on the inside and no one was calm on the bench. That’s what he brings to our room. His experience factor.” It is that type of veteran leadership that is so important to a young team like the Penguins. He understands what it takes to win, and he also understands that you must always focus on the next shift and not dwell on the past. “Bottom line – everyone knows it in the playoffs: one goal, two goals, whatever you do, when the game is over the game is over,” Guerin said. “You have to get ready for the next one.”
Marc-Andre Fleury had an absolutely incredible night in net for the Penguins, stopping 38 of 40 shots (including 10 in OT) for a 0.95 save percentage. Fleury made a stunning highlight reel save in the 3rd period that prevented the Flyers from taking a commanding 3-1 lead late in the game. Fleury made an improbable move from one side of the crease to the other and made a toe save on Jeff Carter’s shot toward an open side of the net. The sure goal for the Flyers was thwarted by the raw athleticism and determination of Marc-Andre Fleury, who is showing every sign that he is in the zone that took the Penguins all the way to game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals last season. “(A save like that) means the world to the team,” Guerin said. “It gives you a second life. You get energized by that and you realize that your goalie helped keep you in the game. That’s what we ask from him at this time of the year.” Fleury said, “I was a little far from the inside post, it wasn’t the best spot. I just tried to get my pad over there and it hit my toe, so it worked out well.” Dan Bylsma recognized Fleury’s pivotal play in the post-game press conference. “The playoffs are all about timely scoring and individual plays that turn the momentum. I haven’t seen the replay other than on the jumbotron looking up, but it looked like a for sure goal – it’s going in – but somehow Marc-Andre gets a pad on it. It’s a remarkable save and certainly kept the game within reach for us at that point.”
Evgeni Malkin quietly went about his business picking up 3-points (1G, 2A) and Sergei Gonchar had 2-points (2A). Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang each added an assist. The Penguins ratcheted up the physical play by outhitting the Flyers 50-29. Brooks Orpik was a beast on the ice racking up an incredible 14 hits just by himself. “Tonight it was more of a playoff feel, that’s for sure,” Orpik said.
The Penguins and Flyers now travel to Philadelphia for game 3 on Sunday. The 3PM matinee will be aired in High Definition on NBC.