It took until the sixth game but the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers finally had their series turn into complete chaos.
The Penguins were able to close out the series on Sunday afternoon with an 8-5 win what was clearly the most physical, chippy, and just downright crazy game of the series.
What made it all so wild? Well let’s go through this piece by piece if we can.
First, the Penguins were trailing by a pair of goals with less than 10 minutes to play in the second period only to rally and tie the game before the intermission, with Jake Guentzel‘s third goal of the playoffs in the final minute being the equalizer.
From there, Guentzel took over, scoring three consecutive goals to open the third period to help the Penguins take a 7-4 lead.
The third goal, the one that completed the hat trick, came moments after the Penguins had to kill off a Kris Letang penalty after he attempted to cross-check Flyers forward Sean Couturier through the Penguins’ net. In any context it would have been a bad, selfish penalty, but given that the Penguins were only leading by one mid-way through the third period of a potential knockout game it was … bad. After coming out of the box Letang appeared to get away with a trip on Sean Couturier, allowing the Penguins to keep possession of the puck and Guentzel to score his third goal of the game.
Just 10 seconds later Guentzel scored again, capping off a 16-minute stretch of hockey where he scored four consecutive goals.
After leading the league in postseason goal scoring a season ago he is now tied for the league lead as of Sunday with his teammate, Sidney Crosby.
Crosby also scored his sixth goal of the playoffs on Sunday.
Including the playoffs, the Penguins played five games in Philadelphia this season and not only won all of them, but scored at least five goals in all of them.
They scored at least five goals in eight of their 10 games against the Flyers this season, losing the only two games they did not top the five-goal mark.
That was just part of the physicality from this game, most of which went uncalled on both sides.
When it came to the actual game, the Penguins needed another offensive outburst in Philadelphia because Sean Couturier did everything in his power to try and single-handedly will his team to a win.
After returning from injury on Friday and scoring the game-winning goal, he recorded five points on Sunday — factoring in all five Flyers goals — and recorded his second career postseason hat trick.
It was not enough because, well, the Flyers just simply did not have an answer for the Penguins’ offense.
Defenseman Radko Gudas had a particularly brutal game and was guilty of costly plays on the two Penguins’ second period goals to tie the game.
They also had more issues in net.
Michal Neuvirth replaced Brian Elliott in Game 5 and played well enough to get the win, making a highlight last minute save on Crosby. He was not anywhere near as good on Sunday giving up seven goals on the 27 shots he faced (the Penguins’ eighth goal was an empty net goal).
The Flyers used three goalies in this series — Elliott, Neuvirth, and Petr Mrazek — while none of them finished with a save percentage higher than .857.
All three of them gave up at least two goals to Crosby.
With that, the Penguins have now won nine consecutive playoff series. They will play the winner of the Washington Capitals-Columbus Blue Jackets series in the second round. They have played the Capitals in the second round in each of the past two seasons. The Capitals lead the series 3-2 entering Game 6 in Columbus on Monday night.