The sweet smell of victory arose over the eastern side of the Keystone state Sunday afternoon after the Penguins beat the Flyers 8-5.
The Penguins suffered an internal loss before the game even started when they learned Evgeni Malkin wasn’t going to be in the lineup. They did get Patric Hornqvist back and while this is no slight to Hornqvist, Malkin not being in outweighed that. It was a sickening feeling in the stomach’s of Penguin faithful. That pain quickly grew worse.
The Flyers got out to an early 1-0 with Sean Couturier, playing on a torn MCL, scoring just 2:15 into the game and getting the raucous home crowd quickly behind them. The Penguins did steal the lead back by taking a 2-1 advantage but eventually gave the goal back before the period ended. Goalie Matt Murray looked very shaky in the first and things only began to compile in the second.
Murray gave up to horrendous goals in the second and the Flyers got out to a 4-2 lead. For the first time, there was a hint of goalie controversy, something the Penguins would be wise to avoid after their last two postseason runs. Head coach Mike Sullivan, now 9-0 in playoff series’ as the Penguins head coach, knew better than to pull his goaltender.
The adversity continued into the third until finally all the dust had cleared and the scoreboard read: PIT 8, PHI 5. When the moment rises, so do the Penguins.
Remember all those stretches during the year that the Penguins looked flat and disinterested? They busted that myth Sunday. How about all those twitter GM’s who wrote off game six after Murray allowed the fourth goal? They look pretty silly a couple hours later.
My main question is, what truly made everyone doubt they could do it?
Was it the way they fought back in multiple series over the years despite being down 3 games to 2? Was it the fact that their last two runs ended in holding the silver cup over their head? Was it the fact that Sullivan hasn’t lost a playoff series in his Penguins tenure?
To be fair, it is human nature to worry when adversity strikes. But I am done doubting this team. Jake Guentzel absolutely dominated by scoring four straight goals in the game. He didn’t want to have to play another game. He wanted the rest for him, his teammates, and the blood pressure of those watching his team struggle through this series.
More adversity awaits. The Penguins will face either a hot Blue Jackets squad or an even hotter Washington Capitals group. Just food for thought: Neither have a goalie who is comfortable playing against the Penguins.
The Penguins slogan is #3elieve so go ahead and do it and stop doubting them. Or, go ahead and do it. It sure seemed to work today.