There was more buildup to this game than there has been to Jenna Bush's upcoming wedding. The difference is: more than 12 people actually cared about the result of the former.
Would Marty Biron be able to stave off the most talented offensive core he has faced during these playoffs? Could Derian Hatcher do something, anything, effective in the defensive zone? Would the "officials decide yet another game"?
The same answer can now be given to all of those questions: no.
The Mellonites were out in full force again tonight, dressed in all white, and ready to get this series under way. The Pens only needed six minutes to bring the raucous crowd to their feet.
Evgeni Malkin took a pass at center ice, gained the blue line, and dished it to Ryan Malone on the left wing. Malone sent a pass cross-ice to Petr Sykora, who froze Biron, then flipped the puck to his backhand before putting it top shelf to give the Penguins the early 1-0 advantage.
About two minutes later, Mike Richards took the puck for the Flyers, wrapped it around the net behind Fleury, and snuck it in off of MAF's leg pad. VERSUS immediately cut to one of the most homosexual things shown on television since the latest edition of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy by showing a bar somewhere in Philadelphia with grown men jumping up and down, flailing their arms like six year old girls.
The goal was initially waved off, most likely because the officials were trying to fix the game in Sidney Crosby's favor, but after review, the goal counted and the game was tied, 1-1.
Four minutes later, Mike Richards took advantage of a loose puck in front of the Penguins' net, and scored over Fleury, who was down and out on the play. 2-1 Flyers. This was the last sign of offensive production for the Flyers in the game.
Marty Biron left the net to play a puck, but Gary Bettman told him in his earpiece to turn the puck over to Marian Hossa so that the Penguins could tie the game. Biron obliged, Hossa fed a hard pass in front to Crosby, who redirected the puck between the pillows of Biron to tie the game, 2-2.
With seven seconds remaining in the period, and Derian Hatcher being incapable of clearing the puck in order to make a line change, Evgeni Malkin capitalized by ripping a hard wrist shot past Biron to make it 3-2 Pens heading into the first intermission.
Early in the second period, Brooks Orpik registered what seemed like his first of 50 hits in the game, by destroying a Flyer behind the Penguins' net. But, Orpik's free hand wrapped up the Flyer before the hit, and he was sent to the sin bin for holding.
On the ensuing Flyers power play, Evgeni Malkin stole the show yet again. Malkin got a shorthanded opportunity, but Biron made the save, and Mike Richards launched Geno into the boards (insert irrelevant diving accusation here). Malkin got up, but before he could make it to the red line, Hossa picked Danny Briere's pocket, and Sergei Gonchar sent a pass up the ice to a wide open Malkin at the opposite blue line.
Malkin, remembering his pathetic attempt at a penalty shot in the previous series, decided to bury his head and shoot the puck as hard as he could. The decision payed off, as Geno beat Biron, scoring the first shorthanded goal of his career, and giving the Pens a 4-2 lead.
A 4-2 lead would be all the Penguins would need. The game got a little more physical in the third period, as the Flyers tried to claw their way back into it. But, Orpik, Letang, Gill, Scuderi, Roberts, Ruutu, Malkin, Hossa, and even Sidney Crosby, were able to match the Flyers' physicality, and shut the door on their way to victory.
- The Penguins have won their previous 14 games at home (regular season and playoffs).
- This Penguins team is the first in franchise history to have a 6-0 home record in the playoffs.
- Kimmo Timonen would not have made a difference tonight. Flyer fans, keep telling yourselves that he would have, we know you need to place the blame somewhere.
- Both teams turned the puck over a lot tonight. The difference: the Penguins capitalized on the turnovers; the Flyers did not.
- As I predicted, Daniel Briere was invisible during this game.
- Fleury has a 19-3-1 record in his last 23 decisions (regular season and playoffs).
- The Flyers have lost Game One in all three of their playoff series'.
- Besides the hideous red beard, did anyone even notice Hartnell tonight?
- John Stevens has some sort of disease under his lip.
- VERSUS was not complete garbage tonight: they had a solid piece on Le Magnifique (Mario Lemieux) during the second intermission. Joe Beniati's voice is slightly less intolerable than Emrick's, and any resident of Philadelphia would be more tolerable to listen to than Eddie Olczyk.
- Malkin has recorded 18 points (8G, 10A) in 9 games against the Flyers this season.
- To quote 'the Badger' Bob Johnson: "You can lose three games, and still win the series."
- Game Two is Sunday, 7:38 PM ET, Mellon Arena. (I will be in attendance, but no one really cares.)