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Take your streak and shove it: Flyers down Penguins to steal Atlantic, NHL leads

PHILADELPHIA -- Evgeni Malkin played tonight for the first time in four games, and boy, did he wind up having a big night. It looked for a while tonight like Malkin would be the game's first star. He scored both Pittsburgh goals, each on the power play, each to tie the game and frustrate the Philadelphia faithful.

Late in the third period, however, it was Malkin who became frustrated. He committed two dumb obstruction penalties on the same shift, although he was only called for one, and he went to the box with about 11 minutes left. A minute later, Scott Hartnell got a piece of a floating puck thrown on net by Chris Pronger. In the net.

Lead grabber. Game winner. Streak buster. Best team in the Atlantic. Best team in the NHL.

It didn't come easily, though. (It never does, does it?) Five-on-five, the Flyers were worlds above the Pens. They outskated them, outhustled them, controlled the puck, played physical in the corners and simply dominated things. When the Pens had the puck in the offensive zone, the Flyers smothered them.

You want evidence of how well they did that? Sidney Crosby came in with an 18-game point streak. He didn't have a shot on goal tonight. That's how well the Flyers held the Pens down offensively tonight. So why was this even a game, then?

The dreaded penalties. As already noted, both Penguin goals were on the power play. If the Flyers don't take a few dumb penalties -- hooking on Briere (although questionable on replay), high sticking on Nodl, high sticking on Carle, etc -- the Penguins simply wouldn't have had all that much offensive pop tonight. Crosby's point streak, now at 19 thanks to an assist on each of Malkin's goals, would've ended.

Penalties are obviously still an issue. The Flyers needed a superb -- and I mean, it was superb -- penalty kill in the last two minutes to get out of the building with two points in regulation. That should be applauded, but the fact that a dumb goalie interference penalty from Darroll Powe put them in that position is just not good. (Yes, Brooks Orpik should've gone to the box on the play as well, and Marc-Andre Fleury did fall over pretty easily. Still, not a great excuse. After the game, Mike Richards called the penalties "an awful trademark to have." Absolutely right, Mike.

But in any event, at five-on-five, the Flyers dominated one of the league's best teams tonight. It's just another game in December at the end of the day, but this one was a statement. Pittsburgh's 12 game win streak is a thing of the past, and as a result, the Flyers are the best team in the National Hockey League. At least for 24 hours.

Questions with Answers

  1. Third straight start for Brian Boucher. Can he stay hot? Boosh was quite good. Wasn't his best game, but the defense in front of him took care of most of the business. When the Pens did get a good chance on through, Boosh was there to make the necessary save.
  2. After a shaky start to the season, Marc-Andre Fleury has been fantastic of late. Can the Flyers beat him? Fleury was extra jumpy. He lost his stick in the first period, leading to Claude Giroux's goal. He was solid, but not good enough.
  3. Claude Giroux has three goals against the Pens already this season. Does that continue? Yup, G went top-cheese on Fleury in the first period to open the scoring.
  4. Will the Pens 12 game win streak come to an end in Philadelphia? YES YES YES.

Post-Game Video: Chris Pronger

Post-Game Video: Brian Boucher

Post-Game Video: Scott Hartnell

Post-Game Video: Mike Richards

Post-Game Video: Peter Laviolette

The other videos will be up in a bit. Check the BSH YouTube page if you're impatient.

Comment of the Night

Crosby types “first” on every internet thread he visits

>> Prometheus74