Penguins chase Brian Elliott, hammer Flyers in playoff opener, 7-0

Penguins chase Brian Elliott, hammer Flyers in playoff opener, 7-0

(They had been swept in their previous two playoff series.) The Jets got goals from Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine and Joe Morrow - all three scoring their first career playoff goals.

Based on the excitement of the rivalry and abundance of superstars on both sides, this Penguins-Flyers rematch should easily be one of the most entertaining series of the opening round, it just appears Philadelphia will have to battle the misfortune of pulling one of a handful of teams that can match or overpower its offensive abilities.

One of the questions they have to find answer for before Game 2 on Friday is a familiar one for anyone that has followed Flyers hockey for the better part of the past three decades: Just what in the heck are they going to do in goal? Tampa Bay claimed the Atlantic Division title when the Boston Bruins (+550 to win Cup) were upset at home in the season's final game against the Florida Panthers, who missed the playoffs. Throw a healthy Kris Letang in to the mix, and Pittsburgh is as dynamic as ever. Some of the goals were a bit out of his control.

With four seconds left on the man advantage, the Flyers abandoned the front of the net and left Jake Guentzel alone in front.

With his back to the net, Crosby made a backhanded tip as he swatted a puck out of the air and past Elliott. Not much a goalie can do about that stuff.

It is a vicious cycle that keeps repeating itself every single year. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on a new team that has never been in the playoffs as a cohesive unit before, and the veteran Kings can certainly exploit that.

Sidney Crosby had his third career postseason hat trick, Evgeni Malkin added a highlight-reel goal and the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins opened the playoffs with a 7-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night.

Quite a change in competition.

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Only four hours away driving (one if you're flying), fans of either city can reap the rewards of seeing their favorite team play. The depth of skill that they have up front is the key to their success as they try to out score and out speed you every game.

Capitals defenceman John Carlson said he thinks playoff rivalries have gotten worse more because of what players can get away with, the physical toll games take and the memories of the nasty things that happen. The Penguins won both games in Pittsburgh in overtime by a score of 5-4. However, ask any impartial fan of all those leagues and they will likely tell you that the Stanley Cup playoffs are the best postseason of them all.

They will nearly certainly start Petr Mrazek in Game 2, but he's hardly the only solution for the Flyers.

The Flyers enter the playoffs having earned points in 10 of their last 11 games, going 7-1-3 and recording four goals or more in nine of the 11 games, including their last four contests.

That chased Elliott from the game.

"Right now my first instinct is yeah", Hakstol said. "So, when you get to lift it, it's really worth it". If Thornton can return at any point for this team during the playoffs, then that would be another huge boost. In terms of his presence in our dressing room and the trust we all have him in that's a pretty big factor.

The other reason to potentially stick with Elliott: The alternative may not be any better. Just two minutes later, the Penguins were on the board.

0 - Times Minnesota and Winnipeg have faced each other in the playoffs. Since being acquired in a trade from the Detroit Red Wings (entirely due to injuries to Elliott and Neuvirth) Mrazek has had a.891 save percentage as a member of the Flyers. Pittsburgh was 4-0 against Philadelphia during the regular season. They're also one of the best faceoff teams in the National Hockey League, giving them an advantage on set plays.