Things could just as easily gone from bad to worse for the Pittsburgh Penguins. In their quest to win the Stanley Cup for the third straight time, they received a small setback in the form of a 5-1 loss in Game 2.
With the win, and the series shifting back to Philadelphia, the Flyers had the everything working for them.
Murray to the rescue
Pittsburgh was going to have to endure a heavy storm to start the game, luckily they had an umbrella by the name of Matt Murray over them. After allowing four goals on 19 shots in Game 2, Murray returned to form and held the fort down as the Penguins slowly collected themselves in the first period.
Murray is at his best when he is able to slow the game down and impose his calm, calculated will on the opposition. He doesn’t dive around and make highlight reel-type saves because, when he is at the top of his game, he reads and anticipates the play so well he is in position before the play gets to him.
Every now and again, when a big glove save is needed, he’ll break one out like an old bottle of wine.
Difficult to stop or slow down Crosby
Despite being heavily outshot in the first, Pittsburgh found themselves with a 1-0 lead after Sidney Crosby scored his fourth of the series on a wraparound attempt that beat Brian Elliott.
With three additional assists on the night, it gives him seven points in three games in this series. Overall in his career, Crosby has scored 15 points (5 G, 10 A) in nine career games against the Flyers in which the game was played in Philadelphia.
The Flyers held a 20-9 advantage in shot attempts (68.97%) while at 5v5, and also out-chanced the Penguins 12-3 (80%), but couldn’t solve Murray.
By the time the second period rolled around, the Penguins either got some great coaching from Mike Sullivan or finally realized they were playing a playoff game and pulled away from the Flyers to take a 2-1 series lead.
Pittsburgh would tack on four more goals, steamrolling the Flyers by the score of 5-1. Despite being out attempted 2-to-1 in the first period, they owned 60% of the shot attempts in the second and third frames.
Two goals in five seconds?
The Penguins attacked quick and often, as shown by Brian Dumoulin scoring just five seconds after Evgeni Malkin extended the lead on the power play, firing home a one-timer from Phil Kessel.
While both teams got their chances with the power play, Pittsburgh took advantage of their seven power plays, scoring on three of them. Derick Brassard, Malkin, and Justin Schultz all scored with the man-advantage for Pittsburgh, recovering from their 0-2 performance in Game 2.
Now with the lead in the series, the Penguins will have two days to rest and come up with a strategy to avoid another slow start.
Game 4 will take place on Wednesday, in Philadelphia and will be televised on NBC SportsNet. Gametime will be 7 pm ET.
What can the Penguins do to avoid a slow start in Game 4? What do the Flyers have to do differently to avoid a repeat of this game? Let us know what you think in the comments below!