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Game 4 Recap: It's Marc-Andre Fleury's world, you're just living in it

As my series outlook goes, you take care of your home ice and then split the first two on the road and you're in great shape.  The Penguins accomplished just that, by winning 3-1 tonight to take a commanding 3 games to 1 series lead.  But this recap can not go any further without recognizing the night's greatness that Marc-Andre Fleury provided.  45 saves on 46 shots.  The Penguins were out-shot 34-13 after the first period and the only reason they're coming home with the lead.

Scoring recap:

--The Pens would strike first, immediately after a Flyers power-play ended in the second period, Chris Kunitz collected a pass from Matt Cooke and went down the side. Kunitz threw the puck to the net with Sidney Crosby driving hard to the far post. Puck careems off of his stick, arm and body and both Crosby and the rubber disc ends up in the net. Martin Biron wasn't interfered with, and Crosby never made a kicking motion, so the goal stood even if it was unusual.

--The Penguins third line of Cooke, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy found their mojo again with several good shifts of cycling. It would pay off four minutes after the first goal with Cooke finding TK and then a little dangle by Kennedy to deposit the puck by Biron. The way the Flyers were waiving their sticks at Kennedy reminded me of the way the Pens did at Flyers players in Game 3.  2-0 Pens now.

--Then it became the Marc-Andre Fleury show in full effect. MAF was up to everything the Flyers threw at him in the second period, stopping all 15 shots and flashing the glove on several big-time saves. Fleury was seeing the puck well and looked very comfortable. And once he gets in that zone it's really tough to beat him.

 --Finally, mid-way into the third period after tremendous pressure the puck bounced out to wildman Daniel Carcillo and he roofed it, a situation no goalie could still hold onto. 

 --The Pens would hang on the rest of the way with Maxime Talbot finally putting the dagger in with a little less than a minute left.  The game was 3-1 and now the series is too.


Various thoughts on the game:

  • The immediate thing to notice was the amount of post-whistle scrums in Game 4, compared to Game 3. Or, more appropriately, the lack there of. The Penguins didn't succumb to the rough-and-tumble "Flyer style" hockey. And, really, it didn't look like that Philadelphia was as aggressive or attempting to instigate as much as they did in their first game back at home.
  • Through two periods, only two Penguins had less even-strength ice time than Bill Guerin were 4th liners Max Talbot and Craig Adams as well as the struggling Petr Sykora. The Pens seem to be picking their spots for the 38 year old Guerin, and hopefully they'll be able to receive the benefits of no drop-off in play from Billy G.
  • Matt Cooke, two assists (couldn't have had the goals without him) but he took two penalties and almost got goaded into a couple more, including an inadvertant high stick (that didn't get called) but still. Cooke is that unguided missle and you never know when he's going to fly off and really hurt the team.
  • In the final minute, Dan Byslma sent out Adams, Talbot and Staal as his three forwards and the combo of Hal Gill + Rob Scuderi for defensemen to take the big face-off.  If you're wondering who the coach trusts the most to hold a one goal lead, now you know.
  • And now who the coach doesn't trust: Kris Letang was on the ice for the Flyers goal (which happened about halfway into the 3rd period), and Letang didn't get 1 single second of ice-time after it.  Did Letang mess up in the sequence before the goal, did he blow an assignment somewhere along the line?  I didn't notice it, and I was watching Versus, so of course they didn't say. 
  • Sidney Crosby, with the game's first goal, pushed his series total to two goals and four assists.  Mike Richards and Jeff Carter have two goals and two assists combined through four games....Who sucks now, Philadelphia fans.

In conclusion, the Penguins have Marc-Andre Fleury to thank.  Though the team blocked 20 shots (defensemen blocking 12 of those) but MAF definitely bailed them out time and time again.  The Penguins didn't play their customary puck possession game, the Flyers did well to keep the action in the Pens zone for much of the game.  But Fleury carried the night and now the Penguins have three chances to beat Philly once and move on to the second round of the playoffs.