Flashback to the early spring of 2008.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were a year removed from having been dispatched by the Ottawa Senators in a very quick five games. They were never really in the series a year prior in 2007 and were humbled very quickly in their first postseason appearance of the new era of Penguins hockey.
2008 had a different feel to it going into the playoffs, having had that small taste of playoff experience for the young team.
The roster itself HAD a different feel even. They had added a few free agents like Petr Sykora and Adam Hall and they made the gigantic splash at the trade deadline, going out and acquiring Marian Hossa.
Even having a different feel, facing the Senators again, who weren’t the machine they were a year prior and in the playoffs as the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference, they were still a good team.
The Penguins were ready from the start though. The 4-0 win for the Penguins in Game 1 of the series was a first of many things.
First home game playoff win for this new chapter of Penguins hockey. First playoff goal for Evgeni Malkin. First playoff shutout for Marc-Andre Fleury.
But none of these things were the highlight of the game. It was the Gary Roberts Show.
Less than a minute into the game, he lets it be known it was his night, kicking some guy around behind the net before scoring the opening goal of the game. He also would put the finishing touches on the game, scoring his second of the night, making the score 4-0 with just over a minute left in the game.
He still wasn’t done though. With time running out, he was still laying body blows, which led to a big scrum, and several Senators players trying to get a piece of him.
42-year old Gary Roberts going at it with Cody Bass, playing in his first NHL playoff game. What a time to be alive.
It was 12 years ago today, but it feels like a lifetime ago.
This game would be a microcosm of the series, as the Penguins would discard the Senators in a 4-0 series sweep, ultimately en route to an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final two months later.