Work in Sports
Penguins get first win in Philly in nearly six years
Posted: Friday April 28, 2000 05:45 PM
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Penguins kept hearing how they couldn't win in Philadelphia. Apparently, the Flyers listened more than they did.
Jaromir Jagr did what he does best, scoring on a shot that seemingly no other NHL player can make, and the Penguins won in Philadelphia for the first time in nearly six years, 2-0 Thursday night in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Pittsburgh has never beaten Philadelphia in a playoff series and once went nearly 15 years without winning there. Game 2 is Saturday in Philadelphia.
"We told ourselves, 'Let's not give ourselves negative thoughts by thinking we can't win here,'" goaltender Ron Tugnutt said. "If we won here, we wouldn't have to hear anymore we can't win here."
The Penguins had gone so long without winning in Philadelphia -- 16 games, including three in the 1997 playoffs -- that Mario Lemieux still was three years away from retiring the last time they did it on Feb. 13, 1994.
"Of course, it means a lot that we won in Philadelphia," Jagr said. "Still, it's only 1-0. They can easily win four in a row, and they're going to come out hard in Game 2."
Jagr gave the Penguins a lead they never lost with another bad-angle goal in the first period -- of course, to Jagr, no shot is a bad one -- and the rejuvenated Tugnutt made 28 saves in yet another solid night in goal.
Martin Straka also scored for the seventh-seeded Penguins, who managed only 14 shots while being outshot for the 15th consecutive game. However, just as they did in their first-round upset of second-seeded Washington, the Penguins made their few shots count.
"Sometimes, the playoffs are a whole new game," Penguins defenseman Bob Boughner said. "Anybody can beat anybody, and we were a desperate team tonight."
The Penguins had been 15-74-7 all-time in Philadelphia, where they once went 42 games -- 0-39-3 -- without winning. They were 0-4-1 against the Flyers this season, allowing 20 goals in the five games.
"But this is a whole new group of guys," Tugnutt said, referring to the half-dozen players who joined the Penguins at the trading deadline. "A lot of us weren't here for that [losing streak in Philadelphia]."
Tugnutt, cast off by Ottawa six weeks ago because he supposedly couldn't win in the playoffs, previously was 1-7-2 against Philadelphia. The Flyers once so befuddled Tugnutt, he suggested former Senators backup Damian Rhodes start in his place against them.
"I'm probably more at ease than I've ever been in my career," said Tugnutt, who had the NHL's best goals-against average last season. "These guys have given me a lot of confidence."
The Penguins gave Tugnutt plenty of help, preventing the bigger, stronger Flyers from clogging the front of the net as they did in their first-round series of Buffalo, flopping to block shots or ripping the puck out before the Flyers could put in rebounds.
The Penguins had more blocked shots (18) than they had shots, and even Jagr blocked one, though he couldn't remember it afterward.
Just as they did against Buffalo, the top-seeded Flyers again struggled at even strength -- they had only four even-strength goals in that five-game series -- but, this time, they also couldn't score on the power play. They were 0-for-2 with the man advantage after going a remarkable 9-for-26 against Buffalo.
"We didn't want to take penalties against the Flyers," Penguins coach Herb Brooks said. "They're too good on the power play."
Jagr's goal at 14:33 of the first period was his fourth in six playoff games this season and his third from a bad angle from around the right circle.
Jan Hrdina, back after missing the final two games of the Washington series with a strained back muscle, won a faceoff that went directly to Jagr. Jagr apparently surprised Flyers rookie goalie Brian Boucher by shooting quickly rather than setting up a play, and Jagr's wrist shot deflected off defenseman Chris Therien's skate into the net near the far post.
Jagr also deflected a goal off Capitals defenseman Calle Johansson to win Game 5 of that series 2-1 Friday, and Jagr said that goal "was much luckier" than Thursday's goal.
Jagr's latest goal hushed a keyed-up, towel-waving crowd of 19,846 that no doubt expected the Flyers' usual home-ice victory over Pittsburgh, and a 1-0 series lead.
Tugnutt made the lead stand up 2 1/2 minutes later, making two sprawling saves -- one on Andy Delmore, the other on Peter White -- in a matter of seconds.
Straka later made it 2-0 at 4:46 of the second, a goal that forced the Flyers to play a more uptempo, fast-paced style that favored Pittsburgh's fast fleet of European skaters.
Robert Lang dug the puck out along the rear boards, spun to his right and found Straka open along the edge of the right circle for his second goal of these playoffs and 10th career playoff goal.
"We played into their hands. We weren't really sharp," Rick Tocchet said. "We were a little lackadaisical on some plays in the corner. There were some loose pucks we didn't get."
Keith Primeau agreed, saying, "There's no excuses for this."
The Flyers had the better chances after that, but the Penguins made certain there were no Flyers flurries, and won even though Philadelphia failed to allow more than two goals for the 11th time in 12 games.
"But it's only one game," John LeClair of the Flyers said. "We weren't going to win four straight. That's a pretty good team over there."