Prior Playoff Game Ones: 2012 ECQF v. PIT

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Flyers

With playoff hockey previously slated to start today, PSN has decided to take you back to when playoff hockey was fun in Philadelphia. We’re going to take you back to a couple first-day playoff games where the Flyers came out victorious. The first game we take a look at is game one of the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals versus the team we all love to hate, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Overview

Philadelphia finished the 2011/12 campaign with 103 points, good for the fifth seed in the playoffs. Five points ahead of the Flyers sat their first-round foe, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Boasting the NHL’s leading scorer in Evgeni Malkin (109pts), the Penguins were riding a wave of momentum, and the Flyers were looking to squelch that momentum in the first round of the playoffs.

1st Period

The Penguins came out like a bat out of hell, scoring three first-period goals. The first goal came just 3:43 into regulation off the stick of none other than Sidney Crosby. Sid found himself batting a puck along the boards to Kris Letang. Letang took the pass and wristed one on Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. Bryz made the save, and after brushing off a check from Braydon Coburn, Crosby found the puck on the backhand of his stick and hit it home.

About four minutes later, Flyers defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon tried a deke around Penguins defenseman Paul Martin. Bourdon lost the puck, as Letang gathered it and fed it to Jordan Staal, leading to a two-on-one. Joined by Tyler Kennedy, Staal fed the puck past Andreas Lilja, and Kennedy one-timed it home, giving the Penguins an early 2-0 lead in the first period.

The Flyers’ best chance of the period came off the tape of former Penguin Jaromir Jagr. Brayden Schenn sprung Jagr on a breakaway, Jagr went for the wrister, but Marc-Andre Fleury had the answer, fending off the attempt and keeping the score at 2-0 Pittsburgh.

With less than a minute remaining, the Flyers found themselves back on their heels again. Braydon Coburn and Steve Sullivan were battling along the boards. The puck broke free, and Crosby fed it back to Sullivan. Sullivan went behind the net, fed the puck between his legs to the front of the net. Bryzgalov caught the puck with the back of his stick, bouncing it into the air. Pascal Dupuis was there to jam it home, giving the Penguins a 3-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

2nd Period

The second period wasn’t nearly as eventful as the first, but it began the Flyers’ comeback. As a Penguins powerplay expired, Jagr fed a fresh out of the box Claude Giroux, leading to a breakaway. Giroux gathered the puck to the left of Fleury, hesitating, then feeding the puck across the crease to a streaking Scott Hartnell. Fleury had the answer, denying Hartnell on the far side, keeping the game 3-0 Pittsburgh.

The Penguins had control of the puck around 6:15 into the period, as Aaron Asham fed Joe Vitale in the neutral zone. Vitale lost the puck in his skates, allowing Brayden Schenn to feed Danny Briere. Briere had gotten behind Brooks Orpik, and roofed on one Fleury, giving the Flyers their first goal of the evening. Upon review, Briere was clearly offsides, but this was before coaches challenges were allowed. The goal counted, and Flyers fans everywhere let out a sigh of relief.

3rd Period

The third period started out slow, but the pace picked up almost nine minutes in. Jagr played the puck off the boards to Giroux in the offensive zone. Giroux backhanded a pass to Matt Carle, who was driving the lane. Carle unleashed a wrister, and Fleury made arguably his best save of the night, keeping the Penguins ahead by two.

Not 30 seconds later, Brayden Schenn was playing the puck along the near boards. He flipped a pass off his backhand, finding Briere along the boards. Briere spun and wristed one towards Fleury. Fleury was being screened by Crosby, and the puck seemed to glance off of Crosby’s skate and past Fleury, cutting the Penguins lead in half.

The Flyers completed their comeback, scoring their third unanswered goal with about seven and a half minutes remaining in regulation. Jagr entered the zone with 23 seconds remaining on the man-advantage. He dished the puck to Hartnell by the blue-line, who took a slapshot on net. On it’s way to Fleury, the puck was re-directed by Brayden Schenn, and flew just over Fleury’s right pad, evening the game at 3.

No more pucks would enter the back of the net that period, so the game entered the first 20 minute overtime period.

Overtime

A little over two minutes into the first overtime period, Jakub Voracek was draped over by Jordan Staal as he skated away from the net. Voracek spun and backhanded a shot towards Fleury. The shot went wide, and was gathered by defenseman Matt Carle. Carle took a shot on Fleury, as the rebound fell at the skates of Kris Letang. Voracek drove the net, found the mishandled puck by Letang, and slammed it home to give the Flyers the 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

What Happened Next

The Flyers and Penguins played six games in the series. Highlighted by 56 goals and a ton more penalty minutes, this series ranks in a tie for sixth in most goals by both teams in a playoff series in NHL history. The Flyers would go on to win the series in six games, and account for 30 of those goals.

Mandatory Credit – © Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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