Flyers Stave Off Elimination, Blank the Penguins in Game Five

Steve PrudenteCorrespondent IApril 24, 2009

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 23:  Claude Giroux #28 of the Philadelphia Flyers congratulates teammate Martin Biron #43 after shutting out the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs  on April 23, 2009 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.(Photo By Dave Sandford/ Getty Images)

Penguins can't fly, but they can lay eggs.

Behind a strong 28-save performance from Martin Biron, the Flyers played a near perfect game five and defeated the Penguins 3-0 to force a sixth game.

Credit the goaltending, credit the goal-scorers, credit the officials (yes, I said it). Whatever the reason, everything came together tonight.

This win is important not only in that it pushed the series to six games, but it also showed the Flyers can win in Pittsburgh in the playoffs, something they haven't done in nine years.

Early on, as expected, the bodies were flying around. The Pens were whistled offside at about the 2:30 mark, and no surprise, the know-it-alls in the stands booed.

A couple minutes later, Sidney Crosby found himself in the middle of a Darrol Powe/Mike Richards hit sandwich. Powe actually ended up taking the brunt of the hit, but it still sent a message: the Flyers were not going to back down tonight.

A few seconds after that, Evgeni Malkin fell down and justifiably no penalty was called. The fans let the officials have it again.

The Flyers got a fortunate break about midway through the period when Tyler Kennedy had an empty net on a wrap-around attempt. Biron was clearly fooled and had moved the other way, leaving an easy slam-dunk for Kennedy. Unfortunately, for the Pens, Kennedy isn't really as good as their fans make him out to be, and he slammed the puck into the left post.

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There were many points in the game where the momentum could have shifted one-way but didn't, and this was one. Who knows what happens if the Penguins get on the board before the Flyers? It's a totally different game if they do.

Minutes later, the Pens were whistled on another obvious offsides, and again the fans booed. The period ended in a scoreless tie. The Penguins out shot the Flyers as they have for most of the series, this time 15-5.

Five minutes into the second period, Sergei Gonchar was unable to keep the puck in his offensive zone and was whistled for another obvious offsides. Of course, the fans disagreed. At this point, you have to wonder if they even know what the word "offside" even means.

The Penguins then squandered a great opportunity when a slap shot knocked Biron's stick clean out of his hand. Braydon Coburn alertly used his stick to pass the paddle back to Biron.

During this exchange, Chris Kunitz had a break up the left side and Crosby cutting to the net, but Kunitz couldn't settle the puck down and didn't generate a scoring chance.

A minute later, Daniel Carcillo brought the puck into the offensive zone near the far side of the ice. He dropped it off to Arron Asham, who ripped, as Bill Clement called it, a "twine-seeking missile" right over Marc-Andre Fleury's glove and just inside the top right corner. 1-0 Flyers.

Needing an answer, the Penguins were able to generate some pressure. Biron gave up a juicy rebound that was put in by Evgeni Malkin to tie the score…

…But once the play went under review, it was shown that Malkin last touched the puck with his skate and clearly kicked it in. No goal.

I watched all the angles and rewound it on the DVR several times. Initially it looked like Malkin was able to get a stick on it to nudge it in. On second and third glance, it was actually Matt Carle's stick. Good call.

Just two minutes later, the refs actually gave Pens fans a reason to complain. Mike Knuble committed an obvious crosscheck in the offensive zone, but it was not called.

They would eventually call Daniel Briere for roughing Brooks Orpik (as if that's even possible, as Orpik leads the series in hits) on an icing touch-up. Didn't matter, as the Penguins went 0-for on the power play for the second straight game.

Minutes later, Max Talbot was tripped, and then Orpik took down Mike Richards near the end of the period. Neither was called. At least the officials were consistently inconsistent.

The period ended with the Flyers up 1-0. Philly actually outshot Pittsburgh 11-to-5 in the second frame.

Just two minutes into the third period, Fleury showed a flash of his game four self, sprawling across the crease to rob Scott Hartnell of a rebound chance. Flyers fans had to be thinking that it could be a backbreaking momentum changer, much like the Jeff Carter miss in game two.

As it turns out, however, Claude Giroux, who played yet another stellar game, had other ideas; he and Powe were able to penetrate the slot, and when a pass from Matt Carle deflected off Powe to Giroux, it was a no-brainer. Flyers up 2-0.

The Flyers now had to prove they could hold the advantage, and received help from another fortuitous bounce near the midpoint of the period. It was on the penalty kill as well.

I'm not sure who took the shot, but a Penguin banked one off the glass behind Biron; it came off the side of the net and was nearly chipped in. Marty was able to keep it under his right pad to keep the Pens off the score sheet and the momentum remained with Philly.

Keep in mind, this is the same area where Knuble had an unfortunate bounce off the boards land at Malkin's feet in game one. Malkin scored to put the Pens up by three and they coasted to an easy victory.

Knuble added a goal four minutes later to all but ice the victory.

With 30 seconds left in the game, Crosby laid his stick into Richards' back for no apparent reason. It will be interesting to see if this is interpreted as "message sending," as the game was clearly out of reach at this point, but knowing Campbell and Bettman, all is well in Crosbyland.

For Marty Biron, this was just his second playoff shutout in his 22nd playoff appearance. Pittsburgh out shot the Flyers 28-26 again.

I've said it all series: Marty hasn't played bad; he just hasn't had the goals to help him out.

The Flyers as a whole haven't played very poorly in the series, save for games one and four. They were just a few breaks away from having a couple more wins, and they very well could have swept the last four.

The fact of the matter is: they didn't get it done then. They did tonight and they need to do it again Saturday and Monday.

The series now shifts back to Philadelphia for game six and you can bet it's going to be a good one.

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