Nashville Predators: The road to the Stanley Cup goes through Nashville

By the numbers Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers series preview

The Flyers fourth liner was on the receiving end of a fine feed by Jori Lehtera, but Murray dived across the crease to keep Laughton's along-the-ice shot out with the bottom edge of his glove. That could happen again this year, as the Pens are well set up to win their third straight Stanley Cup - although Matt Murray has struggled in net this year. They also had a staggering 24 shots blocked. Philadelphia's top unit is undoubtedly risky, with Giroux, Voracek, and Gostisbehere landing seventh, ninth, and 10th, respectively, in regular-season power-play points. Plays like this show just how good he is. The Bruins are high on everyone's list of Stanley Cup favorites, and rightfully so, but the Leafs are right there behind them. For all of their dominance on Wednesday night, it still only counts as one.

Not that Pittsburgh's captain wanted to buy into any sort of message sending, even after the Penguins became only the fifth team in National Hockey League history to win a series opener by at least seven goals. Mostly, they've survived. And the Flyers have noticed.

Petr Mrazek relieved Elliott on Wednesday and allowed two goals on 14 shots. Hakstol declined to elaborate on his plans Thursday, though he's well aware Elliott's play was not Philadelphia's only issue.

The Flyers are just 3-15 when losing the first two games in a seven-game series but 17-17 when a series is tied at one game apiece.

Philadelphia returned to the playoffs this spring thanks in part to its resilience. Players will take their game to another level and every game becomes a "must win". "A close loss feels the same as a lopsided one. We're going to get out of this together, win the next game and go back home 1-1". Escaping the box after taking a needless hooking penalty with the Penguins up a man, Malkin grabbed the puck at the Pittsburgh blue line, galloped past four Flyers and hoisted a backhand past Elliott's blocker for a 3-0 lead. They were the quicker team, and they executed in all the little areas of the game better than we did. Good luck with that.

"We had too many holes", Hakstol said.

Alex Ovechkin is the league's leading scorer and they have a defense and goaltending that could stop anyone. Joe Morrow notched the eventual game-winner at 12:47 of the third to give Winnipeg the historic win. If the Jets can do it twice in three days, they'll have firm control against sloppy Minnesota.

11 —:45 p.m. The time Game 2 of the 1951 semifinal series between Boston and Toronto — who meet in the first round this season — was halted at 1-1. The Wild understand they need to be smarter in their own end. Because the Flyers being stubborn about goalies in the playoffs has never come back to bite them before, right, Steve Mason? "But it was a pretty even game after that".

The Penguins have the experience, skills, players and talent to go all the way. Having a crammed and raucous Bell MTS Place certainly helped.

"[The Stanley Cup playoffs] are fun to watch", third-year marketing student Cory Brewer said. "We had a lot of energy built off that".

"We know what kind of team Pittsburgh is; the Stanley Cup champions, play very well", Jake Voracek said.

Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol mercifully pulled Elliott after Crosby swatted Brian Dumoulin's point shot out of the air and knocked it by a stunned Elliott to put the Penguins up 5-0 just before the game's midway point.

#The Golden Knights, who might be the greatest expansion team ever, also made the playoffs when nobody expected them to.

"Believe me, the sports books, some of them might have gotten killed", Denny Sobo, a frequent Golden Knights bettor said. "The referee didn't think it was a penalty but I'm sure people will look at that hit and make a decision on it".

The Flyers have a number of rookies and players making their playoff debut in the lineup for Game 1.

"It was a physical game, (but) I don't think there was almost as many hits as the stats credited", Los Angeles wing Dustin Brown said.

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