Opening up a series, especially against a heated rival, you want to set the tone. The Penguins did tonight, outshooting the Flyers 33-27, blocking more shots 19-17, winning more faceoffs 38-21 and although hits were 37-30 Philly, the Pens seemed like they kept up in that department too.
- From the very beginning Pittsburgh jumped on the Flyers with their aggressive puck control, possession and shots. 4:41 into the game Evgeni Malkin throws it on net, Sidney Crosby crashes the net and knocks the puck in. 1-0 Pens and they'd never look back.
- The Pens wouldn't strike again until Tyler Kennedy lead a 3 on 1 rush and popped it right by Martin Biron. 2-0 Pens.
- It would stay that way until the 3rd period when Mike Knuble played the puck back away from Malkn and it took a wacky bounce off the boards. Malkin pounced, as the league's leading scorer is apt to do, and scored the easy goal. 3-0 Pens.
- Four minutes later Crosby wins a draw back to the point and the unstoppable offensive dynamo Mark Eaton drills on that Biron can't get to. 4-0 Pens.
- The Flyers would at least put one on the board when they had a powerplay and got traffic to the net. One shot glances a post, a player drives hard to the net and Simon Gagne bags one. 4-1 Pens and that's your scoring summary.
Aside from just the scoring though, here's the game within the game.
- Kimmo Timonen got hit right off the first shift of the game and never seemed the same, favoring his leg throughout the night. Though Timonen would go on to play 21:32 (below his season average of 24:31) it seemed to hinder him when he didn't push off very well to get in Eaton's scoring lane for the fourth goal.
- Jordan Staal and TK had a whale of a game together. Several shifts they, along with Matt Cooke, cycled the puck early and often. Kennedy found the back of the net and Staal came close. Staal also won 11 of 14 faceoffs. Philly had no answer for the Pens third line tonight and if that continues that's a huge edge for Pittsburgh going forward.
- Malkin one goal, one assist and Crosby one goal, one assist. The big boys gotta rack up the points and they did. Crosby also won 12 of 16 draws.
- Chris Kunitz was credited with 4 hits but he was running over guys like a freight train. The aspect he's bringing to the team is something that's been missing from the top line and something more that the Flyers didn't seem ready for.
- The other first line winger, Bill Guerin, made a statement too. In the dying moments of the game, Philly was getting a little physical, with noted pest Scott Hartnell getting a game misconduct with 14 seconds left. Guerin could tell the Flyers were trying to send a message, so he delivered one of his own getting in a fight and slamming down Braydon Coburn.
- Marc-Andre Fleury was fortunate to have his posts bail him out a couple of times, but he was generally steady and did make the 26 saves on 27 shots. Can't say the same for Martin Biron, who never looked comfortable and was burned for the four goals.
A solid game one. The Pens came out and they took care of business. They were faster and more aggressive than Philadelphia and outclassed them tonight. But a seven game series is a long one and it's not something you win on the first night. Adjustments will be made, bounces and calls could go the other way next game sooner or later.
Still, a good night to have with the Pens asserting their dominance over their opponent. Keep it up boys, keep it up.
1 WIN DOWN, 15 MORE TO GO!
**By the way, if you'd like to participate in the Pensburgh Charity Initiative, we're donating money on behalf of my friend Eric. The idea is to donate in cents the jersey numbers of Pens goal scorers. So tonight's official donation is (87 + 48 + 71 + 7) or $2.13. All the proceeds go to the Mario Lemieux Foundation.