(Pittsburgh, PA) – Evgeni Malkin scored two goals and added an assist in leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night at Mellon Arena.
With the game tied 2-2 in the closing seconds of the first period, Malkin got free on the blue line and took a pass from Ryan Whitney before charging in on net. His wrist shot beat Martin Biron with 6.5 seconds left on the clock for what turned out to be the game-winning goal.
Malkin scored the only goal in the game the rest of the way, getting behind the Flyers’ defense and ripping a slap shot past Biron at 4:50 of the second period with Pittsburgh shorthanded.
Game 2 is on Sunday night in Pittsburgh (7:30 p.m., Versus).
For the third straight series in the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Flyers dropped the first game of a series on the road. They are 13-17 all-time when that happens, including two wins this year over Washington and Montreal.
“It's a position we've been in before, [and] it always seems like we come back with another solid effort,” said Mike Richards. “So, hopefully we do that on Sunday.”
“The way we responded in those two series, we are going to come out with what's going to be our best effort so far in the playoffs on Sunday,” added Biron.
In a wild first period, Petr Sykora’s backhanded gave the Penguins the lead, but Richards tallied twice to put Philadelphia ahead. Richards’ wraparound goal went in off of Marc-Andre Fleury at 8:30 to tie the score, and then he found a loose puck in front of the net and fired it in at 12:50 for his sixth goal of the playoffs.
Pittsburgh native R.J. Umberger, who had a team-high eight goals in the second round victory over Montreal, assisted on both scores by Richards.
Marian Hossa took advantage of a turnover by Biron along the boards, and quickly centered the puck where Sidney Crosby tipped it in at 14:11 to tie the game at 2-2 before Malkin’s backbreaker.
“I thought we had the start we wanted,” said head coach John Stevens. “We had the shots on net; we had the lead. We just didn't manage a puck as a group of five on the ice. Our support got too far away.”
“We made some mistakes in the first couple of periods that were very uncharacteristic of the hockey team,” added Richards. “Give them credit, they had an opportunistic team and capitalized on all of their chances.”
Philadelphia tried getting back into the game in the third period, but a deflection attempt by Scott Hartnell hit the cross bar, and Jeff Carter had the puck bounce over the back of his stick while looking at an open net.
The Flyers outshot the Penguins for the game, 28-21.
The Penguins, 9-1 in the playoffs, improved to a perfect 6-0 at home and 14 straight overall counting the regular season. The Flyers fell to 4-4 in road games.
The Flyers are 7-7 all-time in the conference finals. … In Kimmo Timonen’s absence, Jaroslav Modry was reinserted back into the lineup for the first time since Game 5 against Washington in the first round. Modry was even in 17:01 of ice time. … Malkin leads the Penguins with 17 points in the playoffs. … The Philadelphia Phantoms were eliminated by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday night in the second round of the AHL playoffs.
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