Evgeni Malkin scored twice as the Pittsburgh Penguins opened their National Hockey League semi-final series against Philadelphia with a 4-2 victory.
Malkin snapped a tie in the waning seconds of the first period and added a shorthander early in the second as Pittsburgh took the lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals that will see the winner reach the Stanley Cup Finals.
Petr Sykora and captain Sidney Crosby also scored, and Malkin added an assist for the second-seeded Penguins, who improved to 6-0 at home this postseason.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves for the Penguins, who host game two of the series today.
Mike Richards netted both goals and R.J. Umberger collected two assists for the sixth-seeded Flyers, who have dropped the opening game in each of their three playoff series.
The Flyers were without All-Star Kimmo Timonen, who was expected to spend most of the conference finals opposite Malkin trying to limit his scoring chances.
But the Finnish defenseman was diagnosed with a blood clot in his left foot on Thursday and will miss the entire series, and likely the Stanley Cup Finals should the Flyers advance.
Russia’s Malkin dealt those hopes a blow as he notched his second two-goal performance of the postseason and fourth three-point effort.
With the game even at 2-2 and time winding down in the first period, Malkin received a cross-ice pass from defenseman Ryan Whitney at Philadelphia’s blue line.
He skated into the offensive zone and wristed a shot from the right faceoff circle that sailed just inside the left goalpost with 6.5 seconds left, giving Pittsburgh the lead for good. The goal proved to be the game-winner, Malkin’s third of the playoffs.
Penguins blue-liner Brooks Orpik was called for holding 3 1/2 minutes into the second session, giving the Flyers a chance to pull even. Instead, the Penguins doubled their advantage while shorthanded.
Hanging near the Flyers’ blue line, Malkin received a pass from defenseman Sergei Gonchar and skated in alone on Martin Biron. From between the hash marks, the 21-year-old beat the goaltender to the stick side with a slap shot at 4:50.