So far, Adam Gretz’s PHT preview is correct: the Pittsburgh Penguins definitely have an advantage over the Philadelphia Flyers when it comes to goaltending.
Many believed that the Flyers would give Brian Elliott the hook after he allowed three goals in the first period. That didn’t happen, nor did Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol make the call after Jake Guentzel made it 4-0. It wasn’t until Sidney Crosby scored another baseball-style goal to make it 5-0 that Elliott finally was pulled/taken out of his misery.
Check out Crosby’s hat trick, which includes that baseball-style goal:
Elliott ended up allowing five goals on 19 shots before Petr Mrazek replaced him. The Penguins ultimately won Game 1 by the humiliating final score of 7-0.
Game 2 takes place on Friday, airing on NBCSN. Check out the series schedule below.
A tough start in the first period
Just 2:38 into the contest, Bryan Rust beat Brian Elliott to score the first goal of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Flyers had an opportunity to make it 1-1, but perhaps because of a brief whiff on a one-timer, Matt Murray was able to get over and generate one of the best early stops of the playoffs. If you’re taking out your “Jump to Conclusions” mat, then maybe you’d say that this is as painful a reminder of the Penguins’ edge in net as any of the goals Elliott gave up:
Carl Hagelin made it 2-0 midway through the first period, but it was Evgeni Malkin who provided that “Oh no” moment for Flyers fans. Shortly after exiting the penalty box, Malkin got the puck, lowered his shoulder, tore through Philly’s defense, and scored the sort of sheer-will goal that typifies “beast mode Malkin.”
Check out the first three goals in this clip:
That third goal came with almost six minutes remaining in the opening frame, yet it almost felt like it was the final nail in the coffin for Elliott’s Game 1. Hakstol obviously disagreed.
[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]
You wonder how healthy Elliott really is, and whether or not he’s rusty. The veteran goalie only played in two games after being sidelined since Feb. 10, and Elliott faced two non-playoff teams in the Hurricanes and Rangers.
This can be a “burn the tape” game for the Flyers, as the bottom line is that they’re merely down 1-0 in this series. Still, there are plenty of questions, including “How will Philly bounce back?” and “Who will start in Game 2 for the Flyers.”
The Penguins certainly didn’t welcome their cross-state rivals back to the playoffs in a friendly way.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.