The Pittsburgh Penguins and Vancouver Canucks made a statement on Wednesday night. Don’t count them out yet.
Jordan Staal scored a hat trick as the Penguins scored eight unanswered goals en route to a 10-3 dismantling of the Philadelphia Flyers. The Penguins still trail in the series however 3-1 in the offensive minded series that is becoming more intriguing by the moment. Even more impressive was that the Penguins scored ten times without their top six forward James Neal in the lineup, who was suspended for game four following his antics in game three. Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Steve Sullivan also collected three points each.
Unlike the first three games in the series, the Flyers were the more undisciplined team in this one. In the second period, the Flyers took nine of a possible ten penalties.
In Los Angeles, the Canucks avoided complete embarrassment. By beating the Kings 3-1, the Canucks avoided becoming the first team in NHL history to win the President’s Trophy in the regular season and then not win a playoff game in the postseason. Five times in playoff history the President’s Trophy champion has failed to make it to the second round–the 1991 Chicago Blackhawks lost to the Minnesota Northstars, the 2000 St. Louis Blues lost to the San Jose Sharks, the 2006 Detroit Red Wings lost to the Edmonton Oilers, the 2009 San Jose Sharks lost to the Anaheim Ducks and the 2010 Washington Capitals lost to the Montreal Canadiens.