As a continuation of PSN’s playoff series, we now move onto some notable game three’s in playoff history. Playoff series’ against the Pittsburgh Penguins are always memorable for one reason or another. This one was no different. The Flyers faced off against the Penguins in the first round of the 2009 NHL Playoffs, and stakes were high.
The Penguins came into the playoffs with the fourth seed. They had two of the league’s three top scorers in Evgeni Malkin (113pts) and Sidney Crosby (103pts). The Flyers came in as the fifth seed with two 80-point scorers themselves. Jeff Carter led the Flyers all season with 84 points, and Mike Richards was close behind with 80 points.
The series was a toss-up, with both teams accumulating 99 points on the regular season. The Flyers had a duo of solid netminders in Martin Biron and Antero Niittymaki. The Penguins had a duo of lethal scorers in Malkin and Crosby. The Penguins had swept the first two games at home, and the Flyers were looking to get back into the series, as it traveled to Philadelphia for games three and four.
There was plenty of scoring throughout the game, and it started off right away. Nearly three minutes into the contest, Scott Hartnell found himself along the near boards. He fed Joffrey Lupul in the middle of the ice at the blue line. After cutting to the right, Lupul left a drop pass for a streaking Jeff Carter. Following a deke around Bill Guerin, Carter went backhand on Marc-Andre Fleury and put the Flyers up 1-0 early on.
A little over two minutes later, the Flyers found themselves on the powerplay. Simon Gagne sent the puck around the boards to Danny Briere. Briere backhanded the puck along to Mike Knuble who dished it along to Mike Richards on the far boards. Richards sent a snapshot to the net, and found Gagne for the tip in. The Flyers were up 2-0 just 5:14 into the first frame.
Things got chippy seconds later, as Chris Kunitz took a run at Kimmo Timonen on the forecheck. Ryan Parent let him know that wasn’t going to happen without repercussions, and as play stopped, multiple scrums ensued. The one focused on the most was a young Claude Giroux taking on “one tough hombre” Tyler Kennedy, as described as Pierre McGuire. Kennedy threw a punch, met another from Giroux, and was taken down and held on the ice by G. The Flyers let the Penguins know early that this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.
With 15 seconds remaining in the period, Max Talbot nailed Braydon Coburn on the forecheck. With the puck knocked loose, Ruslan Fedotenko swooped in to feed Evgeni Malkin to the left of Martin Biron, who one-timed it home, putting the Penguins on the board just as the first period was about to end. The Flyers would carry a 2-1 lead into the locker room.
The second period saw the same amount of goals that the first did, in the same proportion as well. The Penguins kicked off the second frame as Crosby shook off a Timonen check along the boards to get free to the middle of the ice. He dished to Rob Scuderi at the point, who wound up and slapped one past Biron. The Penguins had evened things up against the Flyers, 2-2, just 13 seconds into the second period.
Four minutes and change later, Giroux would find Darroll Powe streaking up the middle. Joined by Danny Briere, Powe would wrist one on Fleury. Fleury made the save, but gave up the rebound to Briere. Briere skated across the crease, then fed the puck back through to Claude Giroux. Giroux slammed one home from Fleury’s doorstep, putting the Flyers back on top 3-2.
About four more minutes later, the Flyers would find themselves on the penalty kill. Sergei Gonchar would find himself being chased down by Claude Giroux in his own zone. Giroux would gain control of the puck and skate it behind the net and to the other end of the ice. With Letang draping over him, Giroux would reverse direction, skate behind the net and back to the other end of the ice. He then dished the puck across the crease to Simon Gagne who tipped it past Fleury, expanding the Flyers lead back to two goals.
The second frame would end much like the first, with the Flyers scoring two goals and the Penguins only scoring one.
The Flyers would take a 4-2 lead into the final period of the game, and would press even harder on the gas pedal.
3:42 into the period, Dan Carcillo and a handful of Penguins would partake in a scramble in front of the net. With the puck at Carcillo’s skates, Arron Asham would swoop in and play it along the boards to Andrew Alberts at the point. Alberts would wind up and take a slapshot, but it wouldn’t find twine. The rebound would bounce out to Jared Ross, who would tap it home for the 5-2 lead.
The Penguins refused to back down, as just under five minutes later, they would get one back. Malkin would find himself along the boards, dishing the puck to Sergei Gonchar at the point. Gonchar would bank a pass off the near boards back to Malkin. Malkin would walk it in towards the net, using Kimmo Timonen as a screen, and wrist one past Biron to make the score 5-3 on the powerplay.
With time winding down, the Penguins were attempting to get back on the rush and pull within one. Knuble breaks up Letang’s possession of the puck, and Braydon Coburn swoops in to take control. Coburn chips the puck ahead to Simon Gagne who hits the empty net from just beyond center ice, putting the final nail in the coffin of a 6-3 victory for the Flyers in game three.
What Happens Next?
After taking game three, the Flyers would drop game four to the Penguins, going down 3-1 in the series. With their playoff hopes on the ropes in game five, the Flyers would come out and score the shutout, winning 3-0. With game six back in Philadelphia, the Flyers would look to force a game seven. The Penguins wouldn’t have it, and took game six, and the series, winning 5-3.
The Penguins would go on to defeat the Washington Capitals in seven games during the next round. In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Penguins would sweep the Carolina Hurricanes, heading to their second consecutive Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wings.
This time around, it was the Penguins who hoisted Lord Stanley, defeating the Red Wings in seven games.
Mandatory Credit – Jim McIsaac/Getty Images