Thu, May 15, 2008 - Page 20 News List

NHL: Hossa puts the Penguins on the brink

AFP , PHILADELPHIA

Marian Hossa scored two goals to lead Pittsburgh past Philadelphia 4-1 on Tuesday, pushing the Penguins to the brink of advancing to the National Hockey League finals.

Ryan Malone and Ryan Whitney also scored for the Penguins, who took a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series. Pittsburgh will advance to the Stanley Cup final with a victory in Game 4 today.

“We’re being consistent right now,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “We have a great attitude. The reward you get for making sure that you take each game serious and that you’re consistent — but I don’t think we feel like we’ve achieved anything. We are just happy with the attitude and way we’re working.”

Only twice in NHL playoff history have teams overcome an 0-3 hole to win a playoff series — the Toronto Maple Leafs did it against Detroit in the 1942 final and the 1975 New York Islanders rallied to oust Pittsburgh in 1975.

“We cannot lose again,” Flyers standout Joffrey Lupul said. “It has happened before where teams come back. We are in a pretty big hole. We are not going to quit. We are going to come out in Game 4 and play as hard as we can.”

The Penguins became only the fourth team in NHL history to open the playoffs 11-1, a feat no team has achieved since the 1983 Edmonton Oilers, who were swept by the New York Islanders in the final but went on to win five of the next seven Cups and cement Canadian legend Wayne Gretzky as a hockey icon.

Crosby, who was not even born until 1987, is seen as the next Canadian star and could bring the Cup back to Pittsburgh for the first time since 1991 and 1992 when another Canadian hero, Mario Lemieux, sparked the Penguins’ success.

Pittsburgh are looking to deny the state-rivals the Flyers a chance at their first Cups since back-to-back crowns in 1974 and 1975.

Whitney opened the scoring with a power-play goal 5 minutes, 3 seconds into the game and Hossa scored his seventh goal of the playoffs just 2 minutes, 38 seconds later, giving Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead.

Philadelphia’s R.J. Umberger netted his 10th playoff goal on the power play just one second shy of 11 minutes into the game, but the Flyers could not make the red goal light glow again.

Malone added an insurance goal for the Penguins with 10 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the third period and Hossa netted an empty-net goal after the Flyers lifted their goaltender for an extra attacker in the final seconds.

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