The Pittsburgh Penguins moved one game closer to a sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night as they won Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals by a score of 4-1. Marian Hossa continued to prove his playoff worth by scoring his 7th and 8th post-season goals, including the game winner. Sidney Crosby picked up 2-assists to move into first place in the post-season points race. Marc-Andre Fleury extended his record to 11-1 as he stopped 17-of-18 shots for a 0.944 save percentage on the night. With the win, the Penguins become the 4th team in NHL history to win 11 of their first 12 playoff games. The last team to do so was the 1983 Edmonton Oilers.
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In the 1st period, the Penguins dashed the Flyers hopes early as they jumped out to a two goal lead on goals by Ryan Whitney and Marian Hossa. At 5:03 with 30-seconds remaining on a Derian Hatcher hooking penalty, Ryan Whitney attempted a cross-crease pass to Sidney Crosby who was waiting at the far post. The puck hit a Flyers defenseman instead and deflected into the net on the nearside as Martin Biron slid across the crease to thwart Crosby. Sidney Crosby and Sergei Gonchar were credited with the assists on Whitney’s first goal of the post-season. At 7:41, Marian Hossa made a beautiful move at the blueline to get around one defenseman and then shot the puck on net between the legs of the next defenseman. The shot beat a surprised Biron who looked like he was anticipating a pass from Hossa to Crosby. Sidney Crosby was credited with the lone assist. At 10:59, the Flyers drew within 1-goal as R.J. Umberger picked up a rebound of off the post on a wrap-around attempt by Vaclav Prospal and beat Marc-Andre Fleury. Vaclav Prospal and Daniel Briere were credited with the assists on the play. The Penguins outshot an anemic Flyers offense 8-5 in the 1st period, converting on 1-of-2 powerplays and killing off 3-penalties. In the 2nd period, the Penguins stifling defense shut down the Flyers. In fact, in the 29-minute stretch from R.J. Umberger’s goal in the 1st period through the end of the 2nd period, the Flyers only managed 3-shots on goal. The Penguins picked up 9-shots on goal in the 2nd, and were 0-for-1 on the powerplay. Despite it all, the Flyers only trailed by 1-goal as they entered the 3rd period. In the 3rd period, the Flyers managed to get their offense moving a bit more as they outshot the Penguins 10-8. But it was too little too late as Marc-Andre Fleury shut the door tightly on the Flyers. At 9:58, Ryan Malone tightened the noose on the Flyers as he picked up his 4th goal of the post-season. Evgeni Malkin turned over a bad pass by Steve Downie near the blueline and raced up ice. Petr Sykora collected the puck after it was poked off from Malkin’s stick and fed a nice pass to Ryan Malone for the goal. Right after the pass, Sykora was leveled by Steve Downie. Sykora laid on the ice for a moment and was assisted off the ice, but returned in later shifts and appeared to be okay. Evgeni Malkin picked up the other assist on the play to place him 2nd in post-season points at 18, 1-point behind leader Sidney Crosby. At 19:06 with Martin Biron on the bench for the extra attacker, Marian Hossa took a feed from Hal Gill and deposited it into the empty net to seal the win for the Penguins. There were no penalties in the 3rd period.
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Sidney Crosby was the 1st star of the game with 2-assists, and Marc Andre Fleury was the #2 star. Marian Hossa looked great on the ice again as he has silenced the critics of his post-season play by notching his 15th point in 12-games (8G, 7A). With 1-assist on the night, Sergei Gonchar (10-points) is tied for 2nd among defensemen scoring in the post-season, just 1-point behind Niklas Kronvall of Detroit. Gonchar made a beautiful sliding poke check to disrupt a Mike Richards’ breakaway chance in the 2nd period. The Penguins are now just one win away from their first Stanley Cup Finals in 16-years, dating back to the 1991-92 season in which they won it all.
The Penguins return to the Wachovia Center on Thursday night to try and finish off the Flyers in 4-games. Detroit is also poised to finish off their series in 4-games against Dallas on Wednesday night in Dallas. Should the Penguins meet up with the Red Wings in the finals, it would be the first time this year as the two teams did not meet in the regular season. They did meet up twice in the pre-season.