Penguins-Flyers: Hold On Loosely, But Don't Let Go
Pittsburgh Penguin Jordan Staal paid respect to his late grandfather in the best way that he knew how.
Just 24 hours after his grandfather's funeral in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Staal netted the lone Penguin goals of game four.
However, the 19-year old's third period heroics weren't enough for the Penguins to overcome a three goal deficit established by the Philadelphia Flyers in the first 20 minutes of action. The Penguins fell 4-2, but lead the series 3-1.
This game mirrored Game Four of the Penguins' series against the New York Rangers in the previous round. The Penguins wanted to win this game, whereas the Flyers needed to win this game.
The Flyers came out of the gates looking like a much different team than they have been in the previous three games in this series.
They were backchecking hard, and forechecking even harder. The Flyers finally managed to sustain an offensive attack that lasted for more than two consecutive shifts, as they carried the play in the first period.
Joe Beninati takes us all back to the seventh grade by using the word "ditto" during his commentary. I thought that it wasn't physically possible for the VERSUS broadcasts to get increasingly worse as the playoffs progress, but once again, they proved me wrong.
Head official Brad Watson continued his lasting reputation of being the most inconsistent referee in the league tonight.
Nine roughing penalties called for after the whistle scrums? Seriously, who else calls that a penalty in the Conference Finals?
Daniel Briere was Watson's first victim. He was penalized for tripping at 5:57 of the first period.
On the ensuing power play, Mike Richards got his 900th shorthanded breakaway of the series, but Marc Andre Fleury closed the door.
Marian Hossa got a chance going the other way, but Martin Biron turned him aside.
Finally, Joffrey Lupul took advantage of an odd-man rus and beat Fleury top shelf to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
Four minutes later, Briere recalled that he is a professional hockey player and finally scored a goal on the power play to make it 2-0 Flyers.
After some more penalties, and tempers starting to flare, Jeff Carter cashed in on another Flyers' power play to extend the lead to three goals at the end of the first period.
The Flyers recorded 17 shots on goal during the first period, just one fewer than they managed in the full 60 minutes of Game Three.
The look on Michel Therrien's face as he left the bench after the final buzzer of the first period sounded pretty much summed up how all Penguin fans felt at the end of the opening frame: stunned.
The second period got underway and both teams stepped up the physicality. Briere surprised himself by getting a wide open look at the net, but Marc-Andre Fleury made a good kicksave to keep the Penguins' comeback hopes alive.
The Penguins outshot the Flyers during the second period, but struggled to provide themselves with any good scoring chances. The second period ended, still 3-0 Flyers.
If the Penguins stood a chance at pulling off a third period comeback, they would need an early goal. They would get just that, off the stick of Jordan Staal.
Tyler Kennedy drove the net and got a shot off. Staal trailed his linemate and was able to tap the puck between the post and the right pad of Biron to make it 3-1 Flyers.
The goal energized the Penguins, but they continued to struggle to get good looks at the net. Those good looks that they did manage, Biron made the saves.
With just over six minutes left in the game, Staal took a pass in the slot from Kennedy and was able to beat Biron to make it 3-2 Flyers.
Various shots of the crowd at Wachovijoke Center would make you think that they had just witnessed a mass murder.
The Penguins pressed the attack for the next five minutes, but were once again unable to generate any good scoring chances.
In a complete role-reversal, the Flyers' defense bottled up the Penguins on their side of center ice, and held on for the win.
Joffrey Lupul added an empty net goal to seal the deal with just over 30 seconds remaining in the game.
The series now shifts back to Pittsburgh on Sunday for Game Five at 3:00 on NBC.
- Brad Watson is a joke.
- I never really took much notice to it before tonight's game, but, Sidney Crosby spends way too much time talking to the officials. Some on-ice microphones picked up Jason Smith telling Crosby "you complain after every play" which was very true tonight. Sid needs to tone it down, and just play his game.
- Pascal Dupuis has been disappointing offensively recently. He is playing on the top line with Hossa and Crosby, and gets at least three glorious scoring chances every game. Sid set him up three times tonight, and each time Dupuis failed to even put the puck on the net.
- Biron stopped 36 of 38 shots, an impressive performance.
- Can the Flyers be the first to put a black mark on the Penguins' perfect home record during the playoffs? You know they sure as hell are going to try.
- Epic performance by Jordan Staal in the third period tonight. The last three days have undoubtedly been an emotional roller coaster for the youngster, but he showed his true grit by putting his personal issues aside and putting on a show tonight.
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