Dress Rehearsal a success: Pens turn back Flyers 4-2 in regular season finale

April 7, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) congratulates Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz (14) after Kunitz scored against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
After 81 games, we knew it would be the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers in the playoffs. And that the next game would mean everything, while this one meant virtually nothing. But still there was that nagging issue about the Flyers' 5-0 streak in Consol, the matter of Evgeni Malkin shooting for a 50 goal season and whether or not any fireworks would go off.

Answers, in order: snapped, success, not much.

The Pens got off to a great start when Pascal Dupuis snapped a loose puck in for a goal, extending his NHL season long point streak. But then, as has seemed habit, the Flyers would strike back late in a period when Brayden Schenn evened the score shortly before the first period ended.

Pittsburgh recaptured the lead when Chris Kunitz snuck a trickler by Sergei Bobrovsky, but then Jaromir Jagr scored his first goal in sixteen games against the newly inserted Brent Johnson to tie it yet again. Johnny would settle down and that's all the goals that Philly would get.

Then hopefully John Tortorella got as good of a look as Peter Laviolette did from the front row, when the two whiny, crying, gutless superstars in Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby scored goals to be the difference in the game.

The last period saw not too much activity as both teams looked to get out of the regular season without any injuries and get ready for next week, when it counts.

Some more thoughts on the game:

-Not many fights, as we feared when it was seen that Jody Shelley and Steve MacIntyre got jerseys for the game. The refs were all over this one. Noted dipshit Zac Rinaldo put a garden variety hit from behind into the boards on Zbynek Michalek and got a five minute major and tossed from the games. The zebras pretty well established early that this one wasn't going to get out of hand.

-Preservation was the name of the game. Crosby and Malkin barely played in the third period. Marc-Andre Fleury got pulled in the second. Claude Giroux didn't even dress for Philly. Both teams were definitely looking ahead to next time.

-Domination in the faceoff circle, as the Pens won 66% of the day's draws. Jordan Staal (74% on 19 faceoffs), Richard Park (75% on 12) and Joe Vitale (69% on 13) were particularly effective.

-Brian Strait, for the second game in row, looked a little out of sorts with more turnovers and goals against while he was out there. Get well soon, Matt Niskanen.

-50 goals for Evgeni Malkin. Not bad for a guy who's knee was ripped to shread last year. Getting 50 was a key for him to play today and kudos to him for going out and putting the icing on an MVP season.

So for now, that's the regular season. The Penguins end in the 4th seed and face down these very Flyers. Buckle up and hold on tight, the real season is about to begin.



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