The first game of the Penguins home and home with the Philadelphia Flyers was as good a game as possible….for the Flyers. The Penguins were manhandled, and lost 4-0. The points were meaningless for the Penguins, and it showed. Stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, defended by Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, had only three shots between them, much to the delight of the orange clad throng at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Penguins are dealing with a plethora of injuries, missing James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Pascal Dupuis and goaltender Tomas Vokun. The Penguins led the NHL prior to the start of the game with 397 man games lost to injury, a trend that is alarming for the Penguins with the playoffs so close on the horizon. The Flyers are getting healthier every day, with Zac Zinaldo returning and back up goaltender Ram Emery ready to go once again, so the early advantage was NOT in favor of the Penguins. Before the game, Broad Street Bullies Coach Fred Shero was honored with the unveiling of a statue that will be displayed outside of the Well permanently. Penguins General Manager Ray Shero is the son of the Flyers Legendary coach, and was expected to be in attendance.
The game was physical from the start, with the Flyers getting an early power play on a Pittsburgh high sticking penalty. The Penguins league best penalty kill could not stop the Flyers power play, as Scott Hartnell scored on Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury with the Penguins short handed. This would be the only goal the Flyers would need to send the Penguins back to Pittsburgh pointless. Flyers goaltender Steve Mason said no to the Penguins 25 times, turning aside every shot he faced to shut the Penguins out. The Flyers did not let the Penguins into this game, and scored three more time to ensure the win. The Penguins also have the NHL’s best power play, and were hoping to take the Flyers, who lead the NHL in penalty minutes to task. Not only did the Penguins not score on their five power plays, they gave up a short handed goal to Matt Read while the Flyers Andrew MacDonald was in the box for cross checking Penguin Tanner Glass. The shot by Matt Read took a few seconds to call as it was in and out of the net quickly, but the Penguins NHL best power play was indeed stung by the short handed goal.
The Penguins were stifled and shut down, almost completely, for the entire 60 minutes. Penguins star Sidney Crosby did have a breakaway early in the first period; not only did he not score, but was called for a hooking minor on the play. It was that kind of day for Pittsburgh…shut down and shut out. Part two of this home and home is Sunday in Pittsburgh, stay tuned.