Nearly a year ago, October 8 to be exact, the Penguins and Flyers faced off at the Wachovia Center (now Wells-Fargo Center, damned naming rights) in what was a huge early season showdown for the Pens. After struggling with both New York teams, the Penguins had just been shut out by the Phoenix Coyotes on home ice the night before.
Would they come out in Philly just as flat?
In what would become affectionately known as the "Biting Game", the Pens first visit to Philly turned out to be exactly what the doctor ordered - a back-and-forth 5-4 win by the Black and Vegas Gold as the team would go on to win the next 6 games to jumpstart the season.
The Mighty Guins opened the scoring just 48 seconds in with a power play goal (GASP, you can score when the other team has a man in the box??) from Malkin. Staal and Danny Briere traded goals to conclude the 1st period scoring. What a pass by Malkin it was too, then Staal with the wingspan of a 737 to just drag the puck around Ray Emery.
If you didn't already miss Staal enough as it is.
Briere scored for the god damn case of TastyKakes on the PP to tie the game, but that was before Billy G. had something to say. A horror line change for the Flyers allowed the wily old vet to sneak in alone, beating Emery and making it look easy for his first goal of the season. And he was smilin' like a butcher's dog!
The Penguins* then scored a couple minutes later...OK not really. With a couple seconds remaining in a 4-on-4, Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn decided Halloween had come early in the city of Brotherly Love, shooting the puck into his own net through the legs of Emery. Although the goal was credited to Alex Goligoski, Coburn's generosity had given the Guins a 4-2 lead.
A 5-on-3 goal by Jeff Carter (do we ever kill those?) brought the game back within one before TK scored while sprawled on his back in front of the net.
Carter scored again with time evaporating off the clock, as the Flyers had an extra skater and MAF had a player stick. Ho-hum.
That's also coincidentally when Hartnell felt like he was in the mood for some fine French-Canadian cuisine, also known as Kris Letang. The two combatants got tied up behind the Penguin goal after Flyers "captain" Mike Richards plowed into Fleury, and both fell to the ice. But a few seconds later, Letang emerged from the scrum holding his hand as if he'd been cut or injured, leaving everyone confused as he momentarily disappeared into the tunnel behind the bench. No, he wasn't cut, said Disco Dan to the official. He was bit by that neanderthal!
A 5-4 win for the good guys. And exactly what the Penguins needed. Can a trip to Philadelphia early in the season, after a very mediocre start once again be what the Penguins need in 2010? Games at the First Union/Wachovia/Wells-Fargo/Random Financial Services Center have always lit a fire under the likes of Crosby, Fleury and Malkin - and now with the pressure of getting their first home win relieved, can the Pens finally get back to just playing hockey again?
We'll find out at 6.