Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals was everything that a hockey fan could have hoped for.
The momentum swung more than Mike Emrick's wife. There were goals, spectacular saves by Marc-Andre Fleury, and of course, a collapse of epic proportions by the Philadelphia Flyers. What more could you ask for?
The game started off in the usual manner with NBC throwing out preposterous assumptions about the Flyers having a better chance of winning Game 6 because they were on their home ice.
Pierre McGuire was replaced by Darren Pang in the flesh this afternoon on NBC, but the spirit of the biggest joke in sports lived on between the benches with Pang's stuttering responses and below-average, open-ended questions.
By the four-minute mark of the second period, the Flyers had mounted a three-goal lead.
After quick goals by Mike Knuble and Joffrey Lupul at the end of the first period, and an early tally by Daniel Briere in the second, it looked as though the Penguins might have dug themselves too deep of a hole.
Yes, you read the previous sentence correctly, Daniel Briere scored a goal in the playoffs.
If you gave up hope after the Flyers' third goal, shame on you for six weeks.
Exactly one year ago today, the Pens erased a three-goal deficit against the New York Rangers in last year's playoffs and went on to win the game, and eventually the series.
If there's one thing that the past two seasons have taught us about this group of Penguins, it is that they are never out of a game, especially when Daniel Carcillo is on the opposing team.
Up by three goals, Carcillo was coaxed into dropping the gloves with Max Talbot.
Now dropping the gloves when you're up by three goals in a regular season game in mid-November might be excusable.
But engaging in a round of fisticuffs with one of the opposing teams' agitators when you're ahead by three goals in a deciding game of a playoff series is just plain stupid.
What's even better is that just minutes before the fight, Eddie Oljoke was praising Carcillo, saying that both John Stevens and Wayne Gretzky encouraged the youngster to play whistle-to-whistle because he has deceptive hockey skills that are too valuable to a team to be wasted away sitting in the penalty box. Great analysis, as usual.
Carcillo may have gotten the best of Talbot in the bout, but Max was able to rally his teammates behind him by putting himself in a position to be a game-changer.
Sidney Crosby told Darren Pang after the game that when your teammate drops his gloves, the rest of the guys on the bench want to rally behind him, to show their support, and to make his effort worthwhile.
Andy Warhol couldn't have painted a better picture-perfect performance than the Penguins put on in the next 35 minutes.
Talbot shushed the Flyer crowd as he headed to the sin bin, while Carcillo motioned for the crowd to "get the f--k up."
The next motion Carcillo should see in his professional hockey career is the Flyers' GM telling him to "get the f--k out of Philadelphia."
Less than 30 seconds after the scrap, a sleeping giant was awakened.
Evgeni Malkin proved why he is currently the best player in the National Hockey League by making sure that the Penguins took advantage of the shift in momentum.
Geno flew into the zone, curled around the net, stopped on a dime and slid the puck toward the net.
A scramble ensued in front of the net, and Ruslan Fedotenko was able to get the pickle-stabber on the biscuit and force it in behind French Toast to make it 3-1 Flyers.
Just over two minutes later, Tyler Kennedy got the puck to the net, and Toast was unable to corral it.
Mark Eaton flew in out of nowhere to swat the puck out of midair and into the back of the cage. 3-2 Flyers. Eaton has played six of the best, most consistent hockey games of his career in this series.
Sidney Crosby (who sucks) tied the score at three before the end of the period when a Bill Guerin shot deflected off of Toast's glove and into the air, where Sid swiftly batted it home.
The stage was set for an epic third period battle.
The Pens didn't waste much time grabbing the lead early in the third period as Malkin gained the offensive blue line and dropped the puck back to Sergei Gonchar, who unloaded a wicked slap shot that Biron still hasn't seen. 4-3 Pens.
The Flyers would post just five shots on goal for the rest of the third period. Fleury turned aside all of them.
In the game's dying seconds, the Flyers pulled Biron in hopes of tying the game and forcing overtime.
The Pens had somewhat of a different plan for the outcome of the game.
Crosby (who sucks) picked off a weak pass in the neutral zone and flew into the Flyers' zone, staring at the gaping net in his path.
He was forced wide by a Flyers' "defenseman" but recovered the puck behind the net, soared around to the opposite side, and buried it on the back hand to seal the deal.
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has just left Philadelphia.
Final Score: Pittsburgh 5, Philthadelphia 3
Series: 4-2, Pittsburgh Wins
- If you're looking for a good photo-op in Philadelphia this week, be sure to check out all the local golf courses.
- The NBC crew got increasingly quiet with each goal the Penguins scored, and was virtually silent after Gonchar gave them the lead early in the third period. What a feeling.
- To Daniel Carcillo: Thanks for the series, joke.
- See you in Round Two.