And then there were 13: Powerhouse Pens fall flat

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What began as a promising Stanley Cup run ended humbly on Sunday as the Pittsburgh Penguins lost 5-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers, losing their Eastern Conference quarterfinal four games to two.

In the end, the Pens were unable to dig themselves out of an 0-3 series hole — though they did make things interesting by winning Games 4 and 5.

What happened?

The Penguins fell apart defensively, especially on the penalty kill. Philadelphia set a franchise record with 12 power play goals in the series, scoring on over half its opportunities with the man advantage (finishing at a stunning 52 percent.)

Such an anemic power play would’ve been bad under normal circumstances, but in this series? It killed the undisciplined Pens, who accumulated nearly 150 penalty minutes and had three players (Craig Adams, James Neal and Arron Asham) suspended.

All told, the Penguins allowed 30 goals in six games.

Who takes the blame?

Lots of fingers will be pointed at Marc-Andre Fleury, and rightfully so. He let in a series of questionable markers and finished with horrific numbers (.832 save percentage, goals-against average over four). Pittsburgh’s leading penalty killers — Brooks Orpik, Zbynek Michalek, Pascal Dupuis and Adams — also have to shoulder some of the blame as well.

Evgeni Malkin will likely want to forget this series as well after being outplayed by 19-year-old Flyers rookie Sean Couturier.

What will they do about it?

The Pens need to find a capable backup netminder. Even though Fleury was nightmarish at times, Brent Johnson — who’d fallen out of favor earlier this season — only made one appearance this series, which spoke volumes of Dan Bylsma’s lack of faith in him.

Other than this, there’s not much Pittsburgh can do. It has 18 players on the books for $59 million next year — including maligned defenseman Paul Martin, signed until 2015 with an average annual cap hit of $5 million.

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