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Penguins

Tim Benz: Penguins could do no wrong in Game 1 blowout win

| Wednesday, April 11, 2018, 11:57 p.m.
Hats and shirts on the ice after the Penguins' Sidney Crosby gets the hat trick against the Flyers' in the third period during Game 1 of their Stanley Cup playoff first-round series Wednesday, April 11, 2018.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Hats and shirts on the ice after the Penguins' Sidney Crosby gets the hat trick against the Flyers' in the third period during Game 1 of their Stanley Cup playoff first-round series Wednesday, April 11, 2018.

If the Penguins get to where they want to go, they are going to need 15 more playoff victories.

It's probable none of them will be as easy as Wednesday night.

Sure, the Penguins dismantled the Flyers, 7-0, in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoff opener at PPG Paints Arena.

Previous history tells us, though, the rest of the playoffs likely will be filled with nothing but nail-biting, gut-wrenching emotional swings.

Which is, of course, why we love it.

Expect Game 2 to be some sort of white-knuckle, 2-2 overtime thrill ride.

That's how the Stanley Cup playoffs work.

“We know that,” defenseman Kris Letang said. “When you win a game like that, you have to turn the page and start from scratch.”

So let's bask in the fact that at least for one game, everything went right. And pretty much nothing went wrong.

STARS vs. STIFFS: The Penguins stars were on display as Sidney Crosby had a hat trick, including another one of his mid-air backhanded Pinball Wizard goals .

Evgeni Malkin danced through the Flyers defense for a dazzling score of his own .

“They are two highlight-type goals from two elite players,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “There aren't too many guys that can make those types of plays.”

Meanwhile, Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Shayne Gostisbehere all were minus-4. Gostisbehere and Giroux were traffic cones on Malkin's goal as well. And Giroux had some bad misplays in the offensive zone.

Furthermore, when Philadelphia had some great early chances, lesser players such as Scott Laughton and Travis Sanheim were the ones with the puck on their sticks.

They didn't finish, allowing the Penguins to turn a potential shootout into a blowout.

OTHER GUYS DID THINGS THEY DON'T ALWAYS DO: As we discussed here Tuesday, Jake Guentzel needed to score a lot in these playoffs .

He's off to a good start, netting a second-period goal. He added three assists.

Carl Hagelin scored a goal. He had only one in his previous 11 games.

Conor Sheary decked Laughton to the ice on his first shift.

Brian Dumoulin had two points, just his third multipoint game since Feb. 23.

ONE GUY DID SOMETHING HE ALWAYS DOES: Bryan Rust scored in the playoffs. He started the beatdown with the first goal of the game.

That's his 14th playoff goal over the last three postseasons.

MURRAY WAS IN PLAYOFF FORM: After a regular season filled with injury, personal loss and on-ice performance that wasn't at his normally consistently excellent level, Matt Murray looked like the goaltender Pittsburghers have come to love in the postseason the last two years.

Murray only faced 24 shots. But he stopped them all, and some were excellent scoring chances.

In particular, an early save on Laughton at 8 minutes, 20 seconds of the first period was stellar. Philadelphia only was down 1-0 at the time, and the winger fanned on an initial chance, then Murray dove across the crease to snare the second effort.

“It was huge,” defenseman Justin Schultz said with a sigh. “It could've been a different game if that went in.”

Afterward, Flyers coach Dave Hakstol admitted Laughton “looked tight” on the attempt.

DANNY BRIERE ISN'T A FLYER ANYMORE: Unlike Game 1 in 2012, when the Penguins got up on the Flyers, 3-0, after the first period, there was no Danny Briere blown offside goal to ignite a Philly comeback.

GOALIE GONG SHOW: The Flyers came in with goalie questions. Now they have a goalie conundrum.

The Penguins chased starting goalie Brian Elliott to the sounds of fans chanting “EL-LI-OT” like they were E.T.'s Speak and Spell.

Petr Mrazek came in and Crosby beat him for a pair with the game already out of hand.

After the game, Hakstol said he was leaning toward starting Elliot again in Game 2. Although he sounded as if he was talking himself into the decision while he was speaking.

#SHALIEVE: The good vibes got going at the start of the game and never stopped as injured Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier got the crowd pumped up, banging Iceburgh's drum.

We told you to keep an eye out for him at the arena .

Shazier remained a presence all the way through the game, popping up on the jumbotron and even banging the glass in celebration of Murray's huge save in the first period.

“We're happy with our effort,” Rust said. “But we know it's just one game.”

True. But they won so convincingly, it probably should count as two.

I'll check with the league office to see if they can make that happen and get back to you.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at tbenz@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TimBenzPGH.

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