Marc Andre Fleury made 23 saves and Miroslav Satan, Philippe Boucher each scored their first goal of the playoffs as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 Monday night at Mellon Arena to take a 1-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Pittsburgh got off to a strong start in the first period setting the tone early and striking first. Winger Miroslav Satan jumped out of the penalty box, and went in all alone on goaltender Cam Ward beating Ward with a backhand goal at 9:17 of the first period to put the Penguins up 1-0 in the first.
Satan made a pump fake and shifted the puck from his forehand to his backhand as Ward bought the “pump fake” and Satan put the puck in a wide open net. “It’s a move I’ve probably used for 25 years,” Satan indicated after the game. It was Satan’s 1st goal of the playoffs.
Following Satan’s 1st period tally, momentum was in Pittsburgh’s favor and less than two minutes later, NHL scoring champion Evgeni Malkin took a pass from defenseman Philippe Boucher and beat Cam Ward with a backhand goal from the slot at 10:41 of the first period as the Penguins pushed their lead to 2-0 in the first.
Up 2-0, Marc Andre Fleury made timely saves as the Penguins preserved a 2-0 lead going into the second period.
In the second period, the Hurricanes couldn’t solve Fleury until 13 minutes into the period, the Hurricanes got on the board at 13:14 of the second period as Chad Larose took a Eric Cole drop pass and beat Marc Andre Fleury 5-hole to cut the Penguins lead to 2-1.
As the game progressed, Carolina began to dictate the play at times but the Penguins power play came up big in the third period.
Hurricanes center Matt Cullen was awarded a delay of game penalty and Pittsburgh made the most of their prime opportunity to put the game away.
Replacing Kris Letang at the left on the power play who was coming off of a long shift, defenseman Philippe Boucher beat Cam Ward with a shot from the top of the left circles that trickled through Ward’s leg.
Boucher’s third period goal would end up being the game winner and Boucher earned the games #1 star after finishing the game with a goal and an assist.
Evgeni Malkin assisted on Philippe Boucher’s third period tally and also finished the game with a goal and an assist. Sidney Crosby was held in check for the most part by the Hurricanes. Crosby recorded an assist to give him 22 pts in 14 playoff games.
Hurricanes defenseman Joe Corvo scored for the Canes at 18:34 of the third period on the power play to make it 3-2 and things got interesting. Eric Staal nearly tied the game at 3-3 with less than 30 seconds remaining in the third but Staal was unable to beat Fleury short side.
Coming into the series all of the talk was about Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward and questions were pointed towards Marc Andre Fleury as to whether he could match Ward who is a former Conn Smythe Trophy winner and has never lost a playoff series.
In game 1, Fleury answered the bell and won the battle between the star goaltenders.
“Fleury came up with some timely saves early to settle them down and give them the opportunity to get going, and once they get going they’re a very quick team,” Ward said.
Unbelievable performance. He’s been there all year for us,” Matt Cooke said.
Fleury and the Penguins take game 1 and they’re three wins away from advancing to their second consecutive Stanley Cup Appearance.
Game 2 is Thursday Night
Photo courtesy of Inside Pittsburgh Sports