Penguins stay alive with 10-3 win
Evgeni Malkin eyes up the rebound against Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
Sidney Crosby is stopped by Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in the second period.
The Penguins' Pascal Dupuis celebrates his goal against the Flyers.
Penguins center Jordan Staal scored his third goal of the game during the second period against the Flyers.
Sidney Crosby passes off to Chris Kunitz after being checked from behind by Philadelphia's Nick Grossmann Wednesday night. If Crosby was bothered by the Philadelphia media, it didn't show.
Penguins' Matt Niskanen and Chris Kunitz celebrate what looked like Niskanen's second goal of the game against the Flyers. The goal was later credited to Sidney Crosby (not pictured).
The Penguins' Kris Letang goes face-first into the boards during Wednesday night's game, resulting in a penalty for the Flyers' Nick Grossman.
Evgeni Malkin scores against the Flyers in the first period Wednesday night.
Sidney Crosby celebrates with teammates Matt Niskanen, far left, and Chris Kunitz, center.
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PHILADELPHIA -- This should have been the toughest game for them to win.
The Penguins were, after all, skating with the weight of history on their shoulders.
Skating with four regulars -- James Neal, Paul Martin, Arron Asham and Craig Adams -- in street clothes.
Skating in one of hockey's most hostile venues.
Logic said they had more reasons to lose this game than any of the three that had preceded it.
Logic, though, left the Wells Fargo Center long before the Penguins had run off their eighth unanswered goal in what became a 10-3 victory over Philadelphia in Game 4 of their opening-round playoff series.
So had any chance of the Flyers becoming just the third team to sweep the Penguins in a best-of-seven series.
Philadelphia still owns a commanding. 3-1 lead in the series and has a whole lot of precedent on its side, because only three teams in NHL history have rallied from a three-game deficit to win a best-of-seven.
"We got one win, and there are certainly some positives, but the only focus can be that we have to win [Game 5 at Consol Energy Center] Friday night," coach Dan Bylsma said.
But, for the first time in several days, the Penguins have a significant pulse. And, based on the way they dominated a truly must-win game, a genuine reason to believe that their season isn't in its final hours.
The victory snapped a franchise-worst run of six consecutive playoff losses and gives the Penguins an opportunity to whittle into the Flyers' advantage a little more in Game 5.
Game 4 produced the second-largest margin of victory in team playoff history, surpassed only by their Stanley Cup-clinching, 8-0 victory in Minnesota May 25, 1991, and set a franchise record for most goals in a road playoff game.
The Penguins scored their first five on Ilya Bryzgalov, the second five on Sergei Bobrovsky. Hard to say whether it would have made a difference if Flyers coach Peter Laviolette had used them at the same time.
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, meanwhile, gave up three goals in the first period (all while the Penguins were shorthanded), but turned aside all 14 shots he faced during the final 40 minutes.
"It felt good to not give up 26 goals in one period," Fleury said. "The guys did a good job of helping me out around the net. It felt more like usual."
If Fleury is getting his game back in synch, the Penguins might have a legitimate chance to turn this victory into more than a 48-hour stay of execution.
While they can reasonably hope Fleury will replicate his Game 4 performance as the series progresses, they probably shouldn't count on reaching double-digits in goals again. They made that look almost effortless in Game 4, however, with Jordan Staal ringing up a hat trick to spur their rampage.
"I just wanted to keep it going," Staal said. "Didn't want to lose. Play my best and shoot the puck, and I was fortunate enough to get a few in."
Staal hardly was the only Penguin to have a spectacular night, though.
Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists, as did Steve Sullivan. Evgeni Malkin had two goals and an assist. Matt Niskanen, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy all finished with two points.
"We needed it from the big guys, and they certainly were there," Bylsma said.
So were a lot of the others, obviously.
Four of the Penguins' goals came on the power play, which had nine chances.
They barely broke even with the extra man, however, because Philadelphia was 3 for 5, running its total for the series to a remarkable 9 for 15.
"The bounces are going their way right now," defenseman Kris Letang said.
Claude Giroux gave Philadelphia a 1-0 lead 76 seconds into the game, and the Flyers had a short-lived, 3-2 edge later in the first period, but the Penguins never were shaken and, after getting a 4-3 advantage, never really threatened.
Well before the game ended, the parking lots surrounding the arena were beginning to clear. The Penguins' challenge now is to give the Flyers fans a reason to come back Sunday afternoon for Game 6, which will only be played if the Penguins win Friday night.
"One game at a time," Staal said. "It's only one win. It's a race to four, and it doesn't matter how you get there."
First Published April 19, 2012 3:07 pm