NHL Playoffs: Did the Referees Cost the Pittsburgh Penguins a Win in Game One?

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NHL Playoffs: Did the Referees Cost the Pittsburgh Penguins a Win in Game One?
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

For one of the most hyped first-round playoff series in a long time, Game 1 of the Penguins-Flyers series in Pittsburgh didn't disappoint.

Sure, there weren't any bench-clearing brawls or fights in the stands, but both teams delivered a delightfully entertaining 62.5 minutes of hockey. 

Just three minutes into the game, Sidney Crosby scored for the Pens, giving them the momentum to jump out to a three-goal lead after the first period. 

In what is a huge testament to the determination and intensity of the Flyers, the visiting team stormed back, shutting down the Penguins' incredibly talented power play and taking the game in overtime. 

Jakub Voracek is the new Rocky Balboa in Philadelphia. At least for the next two days. 

It's too bad the referees had to steal the spotlight. 

On Daniel Briere's second-period goal—Philadelphia's first of the game—the linesman missed a clear offside call.  

From a Penguins perspective, it's easy to say that this missed call is a direct reason why the Flyers are up one game rather than the other way around. If he had called the play offside—which it clearly was—the Pens would have won the game 3-2. It's simple logic. 

However, Penguins fans shouldn't get too caught up in this non-call.

While it is certainly frustrating, the linesman will probably watch the rest of the playoffs from the comfort of his own living room, and the Penguins need only to look in a mirror to see why they lost Game 1. 

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It wasn't because of bad officiating. It was because Jordan Staal and Kris Letang decided to watch while Voracek potted the overtime winner. 

They didn't lose because a referee made a very common mistake. They lost because Marc-Andre Fleury gave up an awful rebound on a weak shot from the half boards when it mattered most. They lost because they gave up a two-goal lead in the third period. 

To put it simply, the Penguins did not deserve to win on Wednesday night, regardless of officiating.

The Flyers out-worked them in the second and third periods—not to mention the extra stanza—and showed a determination that has lingered within the Philadelphia organization since they came back from three games against the Boston Bruins in 2010. 

Pens fans shouldn't waste time blaming the officiating in Game 1. 

Rather, they should hope their team plays with more hustle, more heart and more drive in game two. 

They need to play more like the Flyers.

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