Penguins-Hurricanes Game One: Eric Staal-ed

WoooooSenior Writer IMay 19, 2009

PITTSBURGH - MAY 18:  Philippe Boucher #43 of the Pittsburgh Penguins waves to the fans after their 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes during Game One of the Eastern Conference Championship Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 18, 2009 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Cam Ward's rear end is probably sore from all of the kisses it received before the opening game of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Marc-Andre Fleury on the other hand, has flown relatively low under the radar of the so-called hockey experts on VERSUS and NBC's version of Dana Carvey's twin brother from that Master of Disguises movie. You know you're itching to Google that.

In a series that most people aren't giving the Canes a chance to win, Carolina did little to change any minds in Game One.

Sure they only lost by a goal, but they forgot to come out of the locker room for the first 57 minutes of regulation.

Fleury stopped 23 shots in the winning effort while his counterpart Ward turned aside 28-of-31 Penguin shots.

Both goalies made their share of sensational glove saves, in particular Ward on Guerin and Fleury on some guy who never scored more than 15 goals in a season.

Miroslav Satan opened the scoring by coming out of the penalty box and taking a lead pass from Matt Cooke. Satan deked Ward, Paul Marice's glasses, two chicks in the front row, and the entire town of Wilkes-Barre before he buried a smooth backhander to make it 1-0 Pens.

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If there's one thing you've come to enjoy about the Penguins in recent years, it is their ability to maintain momentum after a big goal, and often put another one on the board relatively quickly.

Evgeni Malkin fulfilled your red light fantasies by taking a pass from Bobby Boucher and sailing a crisp backhander past Ward from the slot, making it 2-0 Pens.

The Penguins have played very few solid second periods this postseason. The second period of Game One wasn't much different.

Jalen Rose got the Canes on the board around the 13-minute mark and Ward stonewalled the Pens to keep it close heading into the final frame.

About halfway through the third period, Matt Cullen headed to the box and the Pens' power-play hit the ice.

After almost a full two minutes of struggling to maintain possession in the offensive zone, the Pens finally settled things down.

Malkin to Crosby to Boucher to make it 3-1 Pens. Gaaaaatoooooraaaadeeee.

With about two minutes showing on the clock, the Canes remembered they were down by two in the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals and started trying.

Brooks Orpik got an elbow up into the chops of some joke in the corner and gave the Canes the man advantage.

Ward left the net and it was six on four. Joe Corvo found the back of the net after his shot trickled through the pads of Fleury. Canes cut the lead in half at 3-2.

The Canes kept pushing until Eric Staal made his first appearance of the game with under 30 seconds on the clock.

Staal was posted up outside the Penguins' crease and the puck somehow found its way through traffic right to his tape.

Staring a gaping cage in the face, Staal choked.

The VERSUS post-game crew had no idea what to talk about after the Penguins took Eric Staal out of the game.

Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has just left the building.

Final Score: Pittsburgh 3 Carolina 2

Series: 1-0 Pittsburgh

- Eric Staal-ed.

- Ward is a big deal. Fleury was a bigger deal in Game One.

- Anyone know the average age of the Canes? Seems to me like they have a fair amount of veterans on their roster.

- How rewarding it must have been for Miro Satan to notch his first goal of the playoffs after spending the last two months of the season in the AHL. Unfortunately, barring an injury or a total collapse, that probably means the end of the line for Petr Sykora this postseason.

- The Pens hit the snooze button once again after mounting the two goal lead in the first period. Teams that are better than Washington and Carolina will capitalize on those opportunities and win the game.

- Game Two: Thursday night, 7:30, the Igloo. Do It.

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