The Pittsburgh Penguins faced off against the Philadelphia Flyers and the hostile crowd within the Wells Fargo Center for Game 4 of this opening round series. Pittsburgh added another five-goal night as that now makes it back-to-back games that they have scored five goals.
Penguins' goaltender Matt Murray showed why he's one of the best in the playoffs by shutting out the Flyers and becoming the fastest goalie in NHL history to reach 25 career playoff wins. Pittsburgh now takes the 3-1 series lead back home with the opportunity to wrap up this series and face either the Washington Capitals or the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second round.
Murray stands strong for Pittsburgh
Through four games, Murray has a .958 even strength save percentage and during five-on-five play, he has allowed only three goals. For the second time this series, Murray has shutout the Flyers and has also earned his fourth shutout in his last seven playoff games dating back to last year.
Goaltending wins games in the playoffs and Murray is proving it.
The first period was a great one for the Flyers, but they weren't able to get the puck past Murray. When the first period ended with them down 2-0, they went back to the locker room knowing that it would be a long night for them.
4:33 into the first, Evgeni Malkin made it 1-0 Pittsburgh off a pass from Sidney Crosby on the power play. This would begin Philly goaltender Brian Elliott's terrible night and Crosby's historic one. With this assist, Crosby tied Pittsburgh legend Mario Lemieux for the most playoff points in Penguins' history.
The Flyers applied pressure for most of the period, but with just under five and half minutes left, Pittsburgh struck again because of the superb play of their goaltender. After two and a half minutes of sustained pressure by the Flyers, Malkin and Phil Kessel turned a 2-on-1 into a goal to double the Pittsburgh lead.
The Flyers attacked Murray with everything they had, but nothing was working. Normally you don't say that the game is over after one period, but when Murray made the fantastic save on Travis Konecny (see above,) it showed that he was locked in.
Murray's amazing play would translate over into the second and third periods as Pittsburgh held onto their 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
Crosby passes Lemieux for most points
Murray's stellar play would continue for Pittsburgh as they added two more goals in the second to really take the life out of the Philly bench and their fans. Murray stopped all seven shots by Philly giving him a total of 17 for the game heading into the second intermission.
Kris Letang added to the Pittsburgh lead and made it 3-0 with 11:57 remaining in the second. His goal gave him a career 72 playoff points which ties Larry Murphy for most by a Penguins' defenseman.
After the Letang goal, Elliott's night was done as Michal Neuvirth came on in relief. Elliott allowed three goals on 17 shots in 28:04 played. This was Neuvirth's first action since March 28th.
Philly was dominated after the Letang goal and seemed like they didn't have much fight left as Crosby added a wraparound goal to make it 4-0 Penguins with just under 10 minutes left in the second and the third still yet to be played. Crosby's goal saw him pass Lemieux for most playoff points by a Penguin in franchise history.
The second ended with Pittsburgh up 4-0 and looking at the chance of ending the series at home.
Pittsburgh is now one game away
It was more of the same in the third as Philly couldn't muster up a lot and Murray remained strong. Pittsburgh added another goal late in the period by Riley Sheahan that just added more salt to the wound for Philly as Pittsburgh won 5-0. Murray stopped all 26 shots he faced and looked just superb in the win.
Pittsburgh now has the opportunity to close the series out at home and move on to the second round. If they continue to play like they have in their three wins, it should be wrapped up Friday night as Pittsburgh will be the third team to move onto the next round.
Philly always does has the possibility to surprise, but I wouldn't expect it.
Philly's head coach Dave Hakstol called this the "biggest game of the series so far" and his team fell flat on their faces. Philly had one good period, then couldn't do anything. They were also facing an unbeatable goalie, but they still weren't good in periods two or three.
This lackluster play is most likely going to cost them the series as they now have to win three games in a row to move on, and that isn't going to happen.
Pittsburgh has all of the momentum going into Friday, April 20th as they face off against the Flyers for what should be the final time this season at 7 P.M. E.T.
Do you think the Flyers have a shot? How far do you think Pittsburgh makes it? Tell me in the comments below.