Four-point efforts by Evgeni Malkin and Petr Sykora lead the Penguins to a 7-1 rout of the rival Flyers.You are reading live from the press box at Mellon Arena where a cadre of evil Philadelphia writers have stolen our seats. Even the scribes from the other side of the state are jerks.
-We're pretty sure we saw a Joe Sakic Nordiques jersey outside of Gate 3 while walking up to Mellon Arena today.
-Marc-Andre Fleury will start in net for the Penguins.
-Martin Biron gets the call for Philadelphia.
-Two jerseys we saw before the game:
-Our favorite linesman, Pierre Champoux, is doing the game. Fantastic.
-American Eagle Outfitters is giving away these free scarves for the game today. It's a nice gesture, but they're this odd purple and red color. Not only are they kind of ugly, but they're not even the Penguin's colors.
-The Penguins' scratches are Rob Scuderi, Georges Laraque (who's suspended), Ryan Stone, Sidney Crosby and Dany Sabourin.
-Philadelphia scratched Derian Hatcher, Randy Jones, Scottie Upshall, Steve Downie and Denis Tolpeko.
-When it was announced Marian Hossa would dress, the crowd gathered here already offered an enthusiastic applause.
-The players take to the ice:
19:35: Hossa's first notable action in a black Penguins uniform sees him make a nifty play in traffic in his own end and carry the puck up ice into the Flyers' zone. It's nothing that will show up on the score sheet, but it's a nice play that not a lot of people will notice.
19:08: The Penguins are called for too many men on the ice. Petr Sykora will serve the penalty.
15:55: Maxime Talbot gets behind the Flyers defense and chops a shot on net. Biron eats it up.
15:27: Off a turnover in the offense zone, Malkin swoops behind the Flyers net turns and flicks a backhander on net that beats Biron. It's a weak goal to give up. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 1-0.
15:18: Ryan Whitney is sent to the box for roughing.
12:35: The obligatory smashing of Connor James comes courtesy of Jeff Taffe. Taffe accidently pops his teammate with a shoulder behind the Flyers net.
11:12: Pascal Dupuis sneaks into the zone and slides a pass across the crease to Sykora who slams it home. It's a very pretty goal. Sykora leaps into the arms of Dupuis like they just won a playoff game. Penguins 2-0.
10:37: Dupuis tries to sneak a wrap around in and is slammed to the ice by Jason Smith. Biron covers the puck.
9:21: Riley Cote absolutely hammers Sykora in the neutral zone with a clean check. Ryan Malone comes to his teammate's aid and tries to fight Cote. Cote for the most part controls the fight and wrestles Malone to the ice.
6:45: Jarkko Ruutu and his fellow countryman, Lasse Kukkonen get tangled up Flyers zone. Kukkonen loses his lid.
1:50: Pretty much a train wreck involving four players takes place at center ice.
0:42: Sykora is sent off for high sticking.
0:06: Daniel Briere fires a slapper from the point. Fleury makes the save.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Flyers 0.
-Even with the two Penguins goals, not a lot as happened this period in terms of offense. There have only been 10 shots total so far. The Flyers have six while the Penguins have four.
-Two good signs haning in the F balcony:
"You Me and Dupuis"
"Ruutu Loves Downie Softness"
-The Flyers own a 12-9 advantage in faceoffs.
-EN reader Heather Momberger sent us a photo of an Ian Moran jersey she saw before the game:
-The Flyers will get 1:17 or power play time on clean ice.
-EN editor Dan Gigler spotted an old-school Kings jersey.
17:44: The Flyers get a shot on net. Fleury drops the rebound in the crease. Whitney is Johnny-on-the-spot and sweeps it away before a Flyer can pounce on it.
15:45: When Hal Gill is getting two shots on net in the same shift against you, you know you're in trouble. The rebound of Gills second shot kicks out behind the net. Tyler Kennedy grabs it, swoops behind the net and flicks a backhander past an out of place Biron. Biron gets pulled for Antero Niittymaki who the Penguins scored 3,845 goals against last season. We think. We love Niittymaki's mask because it has a picture of Frank Nitti on it. We hate having to spell his name however. Hopefully for our sake, the Penguins don't score a goal for the rest of the day. Penguins 3-0.
10:39: Kris Letang touches a puck behind his net for icing and Patrick Thoresen pops him behind the net. Talbot jumps on Thoresen and all heck breaks loose. Both teams converge behind the net in a scrum. Things get broken up and Thoresen is given two minutes for roughing.
8:10: The guy playing Penguins Plinko is a sharp fan. First off, he's wearing a Hossa T-shirt jersey. And he knew Petr Nedved scored the two fastest goals in Penguins history.
7:50: Jordan Staal charges into the offensive zone and whips a wrister on net. Niittymaki makes a fine glove save.
7:17: The puck gets dumped behin the Penguins net. Thoresen hustles into the corner and centers it into the crease. Mike Knuble, charges into Fleury's doorstep and bangs it into the net. Brook Oprik did a poor job on Knuble there. Penguins 3-1.
5:48: Sami Kapanen fires a laser on net from the right side. Fleury shuffles it away with his blocker.
5:06: That was kind of lucky, but it counts. Malone pulls the puck into the slot and loses control of it. Sykora jumps on it and fires it on net. Malkin is on the doorstep and tips it in. Niittymaki wasn't even in the net and Braydon Coburn was laying face-down in it. That's never a good sign. Penguins 4-1.
4:35: Finally the Penguins get some return on Marian Hossa. Gonchar sneaks into the corner and sends a cross-ice pass to the point. Hossa grabs and fires a wrister that gets through traffic and beats Niittymaki. It's his first goal as a Penguin. The Flyers call a time out and their coach John Stevens can be seen giving a "get your act together" type of speech. Penguins 5-1.
3:49: GO-HOME... FLY-ERS! GO-HOME... FLY-ERS!"
3:05: Coburn is nabbed for interference.
2:15: Hossa has a chance at his second on the doorstep, but can't control the puck.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 5, Flyers 1.
-The Penguins outshot the Flyers 16-9 that period.
The Flyers are winning the faceoff battle, 25-18.
-Best text messages sent to the Jumbotron:
"Go for the scarf trick Geno"
"We need Scuderi Back"
"Gary Roberts sank the Titanic"
"Doc Emrick Rules"
"Flyers = Defeat"
"Get Well Scuderi"
-You have to love Rob Scuderi getting three messages.
19:12: Jordan Staal tries to drive to net from behind it but gets hauled down by Jaroslav Modry. No call.
17:08: Thoresen trips up Taffe. Two minutes.
16:05: Malkin and Whitney come down on a two on won against Modry. Malkin keeps it and shoots. Niittymaki makes a nice glove save.
13:47: Jason Smith throws a puck at the net. It gets deflected and trickles into the crease. Fleury gets down to cover it.
13:40: Joffrey Lupul fires a shot from in tight. Fleury says no.
13:21: Coburn and Malkin collide after the play. A small scrum ensues.
12:40: The puck is fired behind the Penguins net and richocets out to the other side. Knuble jumps on it and fires a shot. Fleury is able to slide over and kick it out.
11:00: Malkin centers the puck into the slot from the corner. Sykora takes it and fans on his first shot. He regains control and rockets a shot past Niittymaki. Penguins 6-1.
10:20: "GO-HOME... FLY-ERS! GO-HOME... FLY-ERS!"
8:50: Gonchar blasts a one-timer. Niittymaki stops it with the glove but can't control the rebound.
8:43: Sykora fires a one-timer from the left faceoff circle. He fans a bit on the shot. Biron stops it and covers the rebound. Sykora lays on the ice in disgust he didn't get a better shot off. The fans applaud the Penguins for pretty much dominating play the last minute or so.
8:16: The more conventional smashing of Connor James comes from Mike Richards who plants James with a charge. Almost immediately, Chris Minard jumps Richards. The two wrestle to the ice. Minard gets a 10-minute misconduct. Richards gets two minutes for charging and a game misconduct.
6:49: Gonchar slides a pass to Malkin who blasts a one-timer. Niittymaki eats it up.
5:50: Scott Hartnell comes down the left wing and blasts a slapper. Fleury kicks it out of play. Cotton-Eyed Joe is busted out:
4:22: At approximately 2:28 p.m., EST on March 18, 2008, A.D., our world changed forever. Hal Gill scored a goal. The puck comes out to the point and Gill simply steps up and blasts a shot that burns Niittymaki. Penguins 8,374 (7)-1.
4:05: Malkin gets behind the defense and tries to sneak a backhander by Niittymaki. No dice.
2:46: Hartnell is sent off for roughing.
1:25: "Gee-No! Gee-No!"
0:21: "GO-HOME... FLY-ERS! GO-HOME... FLY-ERS!"
0:00: End of game. Penguins 7, Flyers 1.
-Well that was a butt-kicking. All of a sudden, going 8-0 against the Flyers last season doesn't seem all that long ago. Going 0-4 against them to start the season does.
-The Flyers are falling apart. It wouldn't surprise us if they missed the playoffs. They look nothing like the team that hammered the Penguins in their first four meetings of the season.
-Amazingly, the day after we said Sidney Crosby shouldn't be on the power play, the Crosby-less power play went 0-for-5 for the Penguins. Hard to believe on a day they put seven pucks behind the Flyers goaltenders, they wouldn't get one with the man advantage.
-Hal Gill had five blocked shots. After he had a rough first couple of games with the Penguins, Gill has really come around for them.
-Was it us, or was Marian Hossa the quietest of the three "new" Penguins. Dupuis and Gill were each more noticeable in our book today.
-Speaking of quiet, did Daniel Briere play today? It said he dressed for the Flyers, but we didn't notice him at all.
-The Penguins out-shot the Flyers, 36-25.
-Not that it mattered, but the Flyers won the faceoff battle, 35-30.
-The three stars were: 3.) Pascal Dupuis 2.) Petr Sykora 1.) Evgeni Malkin.