for this game

Malkin paces Penguins to early series lead

May 10, 2008 - 4:24 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Evgeni Malkin wasted little time exploiting the absence of Kimmo Timonen on the Philadelphia Flyers' blue line.

Malkin snapped a tie in the waning seconds of the first period and added a shorthander early in the second as the Pittsburgh Penguins drew first blood in the Eastern Conference finals on Friday with a 4-2 victory over the Flyers in Game One.

Petr Sykora and captain Sidney Crosby also scored and Malkin added an assist for the second-seeded Penguins, who improved to 6-0 at home this postseason.

"When we get our chances, we scored goals," Sykora said. "Geno (Malkin) was great again tonight. He took over."

Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves for Pittsburgh, which hosts Game Two of the best-of-seven series on Sunday.

"I think it's a big win for us, but it's just a start," Penguins defenseman Hal Gill said. "That's the only way we can look at it, is as a good start."

Mike Richards netted both goals and R.J. Umberger collected two assists for the sixth-seeded Flyers, who have dropped Game One in each of their three playoff series.

"It's a position we've been in before," Richards said. "We'll just have to come back with another solid effort. Hopefully, we'll do that on Sunday."

"The first game always seems like the toughest for us," Philadelphia's Daniel Briere added. "But we've been in this situation before, so hopefully we can find a way to bounce back."

An All-Star this season, Timonen was expected to spend most of the conference finals opposite Malkin in an attempt to limit the Hart Trophy finalist's scoring chances. However, the Finnish defenseman was diagnosed with a blood clot in his left foot on Thursday and will miss the entire series, and likely the Stanley Cup Finals should the Flyers advance.

"When you look at any team and you lose a key guy on the blue line, any team's going to miss that, and obviously they miss him, too," Pittsburgh's Marian Hossa said.

Philadelphia's chances of advancing took a hit Friday, as Malkin recorded his second two-goal performance of the postseason and fourth three-point effort.

"We capitalized on their mistakes a few times," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "It was important for us to pursue the puck, put (Philadelphia's defensemen) in a tough position. That was part of our plan, and they stuck to the plan."

With the game even at 2-2 and time winding down in the first period, Malkin received a cross-ice pass from defenseman Ryan Whitney at Philadelphia's blue line following a turnover in the neutral zone. The Russian skated into the offensive end and wristed a shot from the right faceoff circle that sailed just inside the left goalpost with 6.5 seconds left, giving Pittsburgh the lead for good.

"You get the puck in the neutral zone, we don't get it deep," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "We get caught in transition. Washington, Montreal and Pittsburgh might be three of the better transition teams in the league, especially late in the period. That's a stressed attack. We had people back, but it was kind of a stressed 3-on-2, and those are killers."

"It gave us confidence when we attacked the second period," Therrien said of Malkin's late tally.

The goal proved to be the game-winner, Malkin's third of the playoffs.

Penguins blue-liner Brooks Orpik was called for holding 3 1/2 minutes into the second session, giving the Flyers a chance to draw even. Instead, Pittsburgh doubled its advantage while shorthanded.

Hanging near the Flyers' blue line, Malkin received a pass from defenseman Sergei Gonchar and skated in alone on Martin Biron. From between the hash marks, the 21-year-old beat the goaltender to the stick side with a slap shot at 4:50 for his eighth of the postseason.

"It was really last-second decision," Malkin said of the slapper. "All my penalty shots wasn't that great all the time, pretty much. So in the last second, I just decided to shoot the puck as hard as I can. I didn't think about it, where to shoot, and to make any moves. Just (shoot) as hard as I can."

"You have to expect the unexpected with the top players, and he's one of those," Biron said. "You have to expect anything."

Crosby admitted he may have made the same shot selection had he been in Malkin's position.

"Hey, it worked," Crosby said. "If I had the shot, I'd do the same thing, I think. With that amount of time, and I think at the end of the shift like that, he was pretty tired."

Gonchar did not expect to see Malkin alone in the neutral zone before making the pass.

"I was surprised he was there by himself," the All-Star defenseman said. "Not when you're playing four against five do you see one guy standing at the blue line and get breakaways. I was happy he was there and even happier he scored on it."

Philadelphia never recovered, generating very few scoring chances the rest of the way. Its best opportunity came with 5:40 remaining in the third, when defenseman Randy Jones' shot from the left point rang off the crossbar.

"When we took the lead, we were concentrating on shutting them down," Therrien said. "We put (on) a really tight-checking, defensive game after that."

"They got the momentum and then they just started shutting things down," Biron said. "After that, it was hard to get our legs moving."

Looking to match its longest home winning streak in one playoff year, Pittsburgh opened the scoring just 6:19 into the contest.

Malkin and Ryan Malone broke into the offensive zone on the left side, drawing several defenders toward them. Alertly, Malone sent a cross-slot pass to Sykora, who from alone on the right side moved the puck to his backhand and lifted it past Biron for his fifth goal of the playoffs.

"I just went back to the other side and went upstairs," Sykora said.

Richards answered just over two minutes later with his fifth postseason tally.

After gaining possession behind the net, Richards rushed to the right goalpost for a stuff attempt. The puck caromed off a sprawled Fleury and into the net, but referee Mike Hasenfratz waved off the goal.

However, after a brief video review, the replay officials awarded the tally to Richards, knotting the game at 1-1.

A captain in the making, Richards put Philadelphia ahead with 7:10 to go in the first. After Joffrey Lupul failed in several attempts to jam the puck past Fleury from the doorstep, Richards gathered it, moved to his right and fired it into a vacant net for his second of the contest.

"We knew they had some offensive power," Hossa said. "We just didn't play well in front of Fleury and we just spotted them those two goals."

"Things weren't going well at first, but our guys adapted and kept working at it," Fleury said. "And with the type of players we have, you know you can always get those goals back and get back into the game."

The lead lasted less than two minutes as Crosby cashed in after a miscue by Biron.

Attempting to backhand the puck up the left wing boards from behind his net instead of leaving it for his defenseman, Biron gave it right to Hossa. The Slovakian made a quick pass to Crosby, who redirected it past Biron from in front at 14:11 to forge a 2-2 tie.

"I made a bad play on the second goal," Biron admitted. "I made some terrible plays in the first period with the puck. I personally was responsible for the goal. I've got to make better plays, I've got to help my (defensemen)."

"Usually that's uncharacteristic of the playoffs to make mistakes like that early on," Crosby said. "We did a great job of capitalizing."

Stevens cited a miscommunication as the reason Biron made the poor decision that led to Crosby's goal.

"The building is loud, the communication on the handoff there obviously didn't take place or didn't get executed," Stevens said. "The puck turns over into the net. Those are goals you don't want to give up. Those are almost self-inflicted wounds that you have to try to avoid. It was a big momentum-builder for them."

A native of Pittsburgh, Umberger had a golden opportunity to regain the lead for Philadelphia. But after stealing the puck from Sykora at the Penguins' blue line, Umberger was unable to get off a shot on his short breakaway as Fleury brilliantly poke-checked the puck away.

"I tried to surprise him," Fleury said.

Biron finished with 17 saves.






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    Flyers 2, Penguins 4  FinalMay 9 11:40 PM
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    Flyers 2, Penguins 4  3rd - 1:28May 9 10:07 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PHILADELPHIA 2 0 0 2
    PITTSBURGH 3 1 0 4 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: PIT - PETR SYKORA 5 (RYAN MALONE, EVGENI MALKIN) 6:19
    PHI - MIKE RICHARDS 5 (R.J. UMBERGER, BRAYDON COBURN) 8:30
    PHI - MIKE RICHARDS 6 (JOFFREY LUPUL, R.J. UMBERGER) 12:50
    PIT - SIDNEY CROSBY 3 (MARIAN HOSS

    May 9 10:07 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PHILADELPHIA 2 0 2
    PITTSBURGH 3 1 4 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: PIT - PETR SYKORA 5 (RYAN MALONE, EVGENI MALKIN) 6:19
    PHI - MIKE RICHARDS 5 (R.J. UMBERGER, BRAYDON COBURN) 8:30
    PHI - MIKE RICHARDS 6 (JOFFREY LUPUL, R.J. UMBERGER) 12:50
    PIT - SIDNEY CROSBY 3

    May 9 9:11 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL PHILADELPHIA 2
    PITTSBURGH 4
    2ND PRD: PIT - (SH) EVGENI MALKIN 8 (SERGEI GONCHAR) 4:50

    Flyers 2, Penguins 4  2nd - 15:10May 9 8:45 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PHILADELPHIA 2 2
    PITTSBURGH 3 3 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: PIT - PETR SYKORA 5 (RYAN MALONE, EVGENI MALKIN) 6:19
    PHI - MIKE RICHARDS 5 (R.J. UMBERGER, BRAYDON COBURN) 8:30
    PHI - MIKE RICHARDS 6 (JOFFREY LUPUL, R.J. UMBERGER) 12:50
    PIT - SIDNEY CROSBY 3

    May 9 8:19 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL PHILADELPHIA 2
    PITTSBURGH 3
    1ST PRD: PIT - EVGENI MALKIN 7 (RYAN WHITNEY) 19:53

    Flyers 2, Penguins 3  1st - 0:07May 9 8:19 PM
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    Flyers 2, Penguins 2  1st - 5:49May 9 8:10 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL PHILADELPHIA 2
    PITTSBURGH 2
    1ST PRD: PIT - SIDNEY CROSBY 3 (MARIAN HOSSA, SERGEI GONCHAR) 14:11

    Flyers 2, Penguins 2  1st - 5:49May 9 8:08 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL PHILADELPHIA 2
    PITTSBURGH 1
    1ST PRD: PHI - MIKE RICHARDS 6 (JOFFREY LUPUL, R.J. UMBERGER) 12:50

    Flyers 2, Penguins 1  1st - 7:10May 9 8:06 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL PHILADELPHIA 1
    PITTSBURGH 1
    1ST PRD: PHI - MIKE RICHARDS 5 (R.J. UMBERGER, BRAYDON COBURN) 8:30

    Flyers 1, Penguins 1  1st - 11:30May 9 7:57 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL PHILADELPHIA 0
    PITTSBURGH 1
    1ST PRD: PIT - PETR SYKORA 5 (RYAN MALONE, EVGENI MALKIN) 6:19

    Flyers 0, Penguins 1  1st - 13:41May 9 7:51 PM
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    Flyers vs. PenguinsMay 9 11:07 AM
  • bones hopefully losing timonen doesn't hurt the flyers too much

    Flyers vs. PenguinsMay 8 7:42 PM
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    Flyers vs. PenguinsMay 8 7:42 PM
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    Flyers vs. PenguinsMay 5 11:47 AM