Like a boxer, the Pittsburgh Penguins took the Flyers’ best punches in the opening period Sunday at the then-percolating Wells Fargo Center.
They brushed them aside and took control of the game in the second period en route to a 5-1 win, giving Pittsburgh a two-games-to-one lead in a strange series — each team has taken a turn winning by a lopsided margin — that resumes Wednesday.
The Flyers had a huge territorial advantage and an 11-4 shots edge in the first period, but left the ice facing a 1-0 deficit.
“You have to give the Flyers a lot of credit; they came out in the first period and had a really strong start,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said, “and I thought Sid was a big reason that our team settled down.”
Sullivan was referring to Sidney Crosby, who scored on a wraparound midway through the first to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
“He has that ability to just stay in the moment. He doesn’t get rattled, he doesn’t get fazed by any of the adversity or anything that a high-stakes environment might present to other players,” Sullivan said. “He just thrives on it, and that’s why he’s the elite player he is.”
After Crosby’s goal, the Flyers had numerous first-period chances, but goalie Matt Murray had all the answers. Earlier, with the game scoreless, he made a glove save on Nolan Patrick’s breakaway.
“Their crowd was very loud and rowdy, so we did a good job there,” Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin said about surviving the Flyers’ first-period surge. “… Obviously, Murray saved us. We stuck with our game plan. We didn’t try to do it individually. I thought that was the key there, especially in the first period.”
A matter of seconds
Pittsburgh equaled a Stanley Cup playoff record by scoring two second-period goals five seconds apart.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the quickest two goals ever scored against the Flyers in the regular-season or the playoffs.
It surpassed the two goals scored six seconds apart, both by Chicago’s Jim Pappin, in a game against the Flyers on Feb. 16, 1972.
In the three playoff games, Crosby (four goals, three assists) and Evgeni Malkin (two goals, one assist) have combined for 10 points — seven more than the total for Claude Giroux (one assist) and Jake Voracek (two assists). Giroux had 10 shot attempts (four on goal) Sunday. … Sean Couturier played a game-high 26 minutes, 18 seconds. … The Penguins won 53 percent of the faceoffs. … Sullivan: . “I thought Matt Murray was out best penalty killer tonight.” Murray stopped all 11 power-play shots. The Penguins had three goals on nine power-play shots. .. There is a chance Michal Neuvirth will be ready to play Wednesday, but Brian Elliott is expected to get the start. … The Flyers will not practice Monday and will be back on the ice at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Voorhees. … The Penguins returned to Pittsburgh after the game.