The story of the Philadelphia Flyers' 8-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals? Offense, offense and more offense.
The first period featured a whopping six goals and a fight between Sidney Crosby and Claude Giroux after Sid the Kid slashed at Ilya Bryzgalov’s glove on multiple occasions. It was a rare fight between superstars and it was a beauty. They took the referee down with them as both players were delivering blows.
They were a part of a first period that saw a ridiculous 60 minutes worth of penalty minutes doled out in the first 13 minutes of the game. It’s clear these two teams aren’t fond of one another and the intensity and Wells Fargo Center crowd reflected as much. There was 133 total penalty minutes in a game that was all about surviving.
Down 3-1 at the time of the fight, Crosby did not provide the spark needed to infuse life into a team that appears to have raised the white flag in the 2012 playoffs. The Penguins weren’t used to being down multiple goals so early. They held a 3-0 lead in Game 1 and a 3-1 lead in Game 2, only to blow both of them.
Down 3-0 in the series with Game 4 at Philadelphia, Crosby and the crew are going to need a small miracle to lift themselves out of the hole they have dug themselves into.
After looking to be a strong candidate to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup, the wheels have completely fallen off for the Penguins. Stick a fork in ‘em, they are cooked.
Here is one of the only superstar fights you’ll ever see. It started off a bit weak, but the action really heats up as the two fall to the ice with the poor ref stuck in the middle.
Joe Reedy may be the Cincinnati Bengals beat writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer, but he can still provide us with the insane stats of the legendary first period:
First period in Philly -- 6 goals, 18 penalties, 3 game misconducts, 72 penalty minutes— Joe Reedy (@joereedy) April 15, 2012
Fights have been up in the playoffs and the outrage has been coming from all different directions. Sunday’s game provided plenty of ammo to the argument, but The Daily’s Dan Wolken doesn’t mind:
I'm not going to pretend that I'm horrified about all the fighting we've seen in the playoffs so far. It's been pretty entertaining.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) April 15, 2012
Denver sports anchor Vic Lombardi points out what the biggest issue for the Penguins was all afternoon:
I'm no hockey expert but it looks like the Penguins can use some help in the defensive zone.— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) April 15, 2012
As time was winding down, the Philly crowd started a rather cocky chant, as Bleacher Report assignment editor Tom Kinslow reminds us:
"You can't beat us" is ringing through the Wells Fargo Center. Well done #Flyers fans.— Tom Kinslow (@TomKinslow) April 15, 2012
Danny Briere: A
What more could you ask for?
He registered two goals, an assist and won six of seven faceoffs. Both goals and the assist came in the first period, as Briere came out of the tunnel firing on all cylinders.
If Briere can keep up this torrid pace, the Flyers are going to be incredibly tough to knock out in a seven-game series.
Claude Giroux: A
Anytime you can register a Gordie Howe hat trick, you get an “A” grade.
He was not cool with Crosby’s antics and let him know as much.
Watching your team leader put his neck on the line had to of fire up his teammates, and the proof was in their inspirational play for the remainder of the game.
The fight sent a message that was received loud and clear.
Max Talbot: A-
Talbot did it all.
He connected on both of his shots for two goals and had five hits that set the tone for an afternoon full of fast, flying fists.
Ilya Bryzgalov: B-
Normally, allowing four goals gets you a seat on the bench. On Sunday, it meant you won comfortably. He had 35 shots come his direction and after a shaky first two periods, Bryzgalov shutout the Penguins in the third period to ensure the comfortable win.
James Neal: A
He scored two goals and dished out an assistant as the catalyst of the Penguins' offense. It was his relentless play around the net that saved his team from being completely embarrassed.
Sidney Crosby: C
He was chirping and fighting, yet he didn’t have much of an impact on the actual game. He notched one assist, but the team needed more from their star in such an important game.
Marc-André Fleury: F
There is no easy way to say this…Fleury is the man that should take the majority of the blame for this playoff meltdown. He allowed six pucks to get past him in 28 shots for an awful save percentage of 78 percent.
His confidence is shot and is about to endure the longest offseason of his career.
Brent Johnson: F-
I’m not sure if you can get an F-, but Johnson deserves one after his putrid performance. He had four saves and allowed two goals. That’s a 66 percent clip. He was supposed to stop the bleeding when he was inserted in the beginning of the third period.
Instead, he simply made the game out of reach with his slow reaction time. Who is going to play goalie in Game 4?