The Penguins kicked off the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a loud, enormous, booming message to the entire league. The back-to-back defending champs are not messing around.
Pittsburgh exploded offensively to a 7-0 victory in Game 1 of the first round against their inner-state rival Flyers. Bryan Rust kicked off the scoring early in the first period and Pittsburgh ran the show afterward. Philadelphia nearly seemed lifeless after the Penguins had jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first and put little pressure on the Penguins, who were able to capitalize and score four more goals.
Sidney Crosby was responsible for three of those goals completing the natural hat trick in the third period, including an incredible backhand out of mid-air that chased Brian Elliott out of the game.
Evgeni Malkin had two highlight reel plays, but only one of them lead to a goal. Geno shot out of the penalty box and received a pass from Carl Hagelin, and he took it coast-to-coast dancing around the defense of Philadelphia and fired a backhand right into the back of the net. Then, on the powerplay, Geno put the puck between Matt Read‘s legs and danced his way to the front of the net, but unfortunately for the raucous home crowd, his shot hit the post. The fans were ready to blow the roof off of PPG Paints Arena.
Although there isn’t any shutout that isn’t impressive, Matt Murray faced little competition en route to his third straight playoff shutout and fifth of his career. As you all remember, he capped off the 2017 Stanley Cup Final with two straight shutouts and he opens up this postseason with yet another. After a rocky year, Penguins fans can take solace in seeing that “playoff” Murray has shown up and is ready to go against, while they didn’t look it, a formidable opponent in the Flyers.
Jake Guentzel, while overshadowed by his teammate’s performances, had himself a four-point night, netting a goal and tacking on three assists. It seems that he is also picking up right where he left off from last postseason where, as a rookie, he impressed everyone with his scoring ability playing alongside Sidney Crosby.
The Penguins will take on the Flyers again at PPG Paints Arena on Friday evening at 7 P.M.