Crosby hat trick sets tone for Cup champs as Penguins humiliate Flyers

Crosby hat trick sets tone for Cup champs as Penguins humiliate Flyers”

It appears Philadelphia wasn't quite ready for the back-to-back champs in the opening game of their series on Wednesday, as the Penguins came out of the gate hot and thumped the Flyers 7-0. Instead of looking like a team that some considered one of the hottest in the National Hockey League to end the regular season after winning four of their final five games, the Flyers looked more like a team that should be watching the playoffs from home during their first meeting with the Penguins. Circumstances on both teams have conspired to make this potentially a six- or seven-game series of pond hockey.

Sidney Crosby notched a natural hat trick as the Pittsburgh Penguins trounced the Philadelphia Flyers 7-0 in Game 1 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series. Just like the Golden Knights mascot who slayed a bumbling king at centre ice during a pregame show, Vegas was physical from the start. "Obviously, there's some anger in here". It really wasn't a 1-0 game, it was probably a 4-3 game for somebody, but the goaltending was excellent. "They could have beat us in overtime tonight and they beat us 7-0, and it's the same thing".

It would be unfair to pin all of the blame for the Game 1 loss on goalies Brian Elliott and Petr Mrazek because the Flyers ... well ... they weren't good.

"I don't think we're looking to fight", Crosby said.

"I don't think we've played our best game or a full 60 minutes against Pittsburgh yet", Flyers forward Sean Couturier said.

Superstar Sydney Crosby scored his third career playoff hat trick and anything the Penguins wanted to do they did.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have won the last two Stanley Cups, and are trying to become the first team to win three straight titles since the New York Islanders won four consecutive cups from 1980-83.

The Flyers' No. 1 line - Couturier centering Claude Giroux and Michael Raffl - was a combined minus-11. "I thought it was a bad hit, but it's not for me to decide", Gallant said.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 shots for the 63rd win and 11th shutout in his postseason career.

Winnipeg is an offensive force and had a great regular season, which is why a lot of people are picking them to take this series decisively.

The two-time Conn Smythe victor added his second of the evening midway through the third, tapping a friendly bounce into a wide-open net behind Petr Mrazek.

Elliott stopped Kris Letang's slap shot with his blocker only to see the long rebound go right to Rust, who ripped it over Elliott's right shoulder to give the Penguins the lead 2:38 into the game.

All that before Crosby got involved.

First-period goals by Bryan Rust (a poor rebound allowed by Elliott), an all-alone Carl Hagelin (tip-in), and Evgeni Malkin staked the Penguins to a 3-0 lead.

The Penguins scored the first three goals again to take a 3-0 lead into the first intermission, and then scored the next four as well.

For pretty much the entire season, the Pittsburgh Penguins seemed like they were either stuck in mud or possibly in coast mode.

Laughton, goal-less in his last 22 games of the regular season, fanned on his first shot, and Murray made a great save after the Flyers' left winger gathered the puck and got off a point-blank shot.

Fleury got his first playoff shutout since last May, when his Penguins beat the Ottawa Senators 1-0 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. They're also one of the best faceoff teams in the National Hockey League, giving them an advantage on set plays.

Who are the key players?

. We didn't have the playmaking skills.

This series will not be short, as it is hard to find an area where one team dominates the other.

Regular season MVP candidate Taylor Hall makes his Stanley Cup Playoff debut with the New Jersey Devils, who have a tall task as a wild card team facing the top team in the East in the Tampa Bay Lightning. "The expectation within our room is we have the ability to compete".

The series returns for Game 2 on Friday night from Pittsburgh.

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