The Penguins are better than the Flyers. The only real way to refute that is to expect Philadelphia to win three straight games — two of them in Pittsburgh, and after a 5-0 dismembering in Game 4 Wednesday night, Philly seems destined to allow a 3-1 series deficit into a series defeat.
The Flyers defense was short-handed before the puck even dropped, as newly-named Selke Award nominee Sean Couturier missed the contest with an injury he sustained in practice. Whether his presence would have made a difference seems unlikely, but Pittsburgh continues to flex its playoff muscles, turning into another gear in the postseason (just as they did last year en route to a Stanley Cup championship).
And just as he was last year — and in Game 1 — Penguins netminder Matt Murray was brilliant stopping all 26 Flyers shots on goal.
- There's fanfic at The Met and it's all because of the Tale of Genji21 Pictures
- Oscars 2019: Red carpet looks and full list of winners36 Pictures
As the final frame opened, Philly needed four goals in the third period to even make things interesting — a task they had done a few times this season most recently in January against the Islanders. They didn't get any.
Game 4 started where Game 3 left off — with the Flyers (Matt Read) committing a penalty and the PK unit unable to stop the Penguins top-ranked power play offense. Just four and a half minutes in, Evgeni Malkin found nylon with a wrister near the net (from Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel) to put Pittsburgh ahead 1-0 early.
The second Penguins goal came as a huge deflation, following a fury of Flyers shots, chances and possession time in the Pittsburgh zone, an errant pass led to an odd-man rush that allowed Kessel to score after a perfect pass from Malkin.
A merciful delay of game penalty on the Pens gave Philly a power play to end the first but a Wayne Simmons slash took away the golden opportunity eight seconds in.
Trailing 2-0 early in the second stanza, the Flyers got their first real man advantage but squandered it without creating a single scoring opportunity. As has been the case for two of the three games this series, a third goal came for the Penguins on a slapshot in the middle of a sloppy second period. The Kris Letang goal (assisted by Jake Guentzel) brought Michal Neuvirth into his first playoff game of the year as Philadelphia tried to find a way to fight their way out of a very deep hole.
The carnage continued, care of Crosby (assisted by Guentzel and Dominik Simon) and his shifty stick as a turnover led to a quick wraparound goal as Neuvirth looked the wrong way to put Pittsburgh ahead 4-0.
The Penguins finally made a noticable mistake, as a Malkin high stick earned Philadelphia four minutes of power play time. But just as its first time up a man, virtually no offense was produced.
Just to add insult to injury, Riley Sheahan netted a fifth goal from Olli Maatta in the period's closing minutes.