The Pittsburgh Penguins showed what last year's trip to the Stanley Cup final taught them -- patience. Theirs was a measured first-period effort -- the first scoreless period of the series -- always a good way to approach a road game after a loss. For their part, the Philadelphia Flyers pressured effectively in the opening 20 minutes, only to be rebuffed by Pens goaltender
In the second period, the Penguins revved up the offensive, establishing zone presence with some sustained forechecking. That softened the Flyers just enough on the rush, with
Just like that, the Penguins were in business. They weren't necessarily in control, however. Not as a team anyway. The Flyers pressed from the mid-point of the second period right through to the end of the game, when
But back to the second and Fleury's heroics. Once his team secured a two-goal advantage, he refused to give the Flyers a momentum-changing marker. He was brilliant with the glove, tough in traffic and focused in total. He had that look of composed determination that characterizes Fleury when he is at his finest. On this night he certainly was, repelling scoring chance after scoring chance, making 45 saves in all, many of the highlight reel variety.
Crosby was the best star on the ice, exhibiting that tenacity that makes him the most gifted grinder in the game today -- and I say that with the highest regard -- outshining teammate
Still, this night belonged to goaltender Marc Andre Fleury. His stellar puck stopping is the reason the Penguins head home with a chance to close out the Flyers in five games -- just as they did a year ago in the Eastern Conference Final. If last year taught them anything it is that economy in the early rounds pays dividends later. Oh yeah, the Penguins also learned that when Fleury plays like he did in Philly on Tuesday night, they stand a good chance to go deep in the playoffs.