THINGS: Flyers vs. Penguins

2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Complete first round schedule and results

New Jersey Devils: Anything Can Happen In The Playoffs

The playoffs are here.

Building a 3-0 first-period lead against a shaky Brian Elliott, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins trounced the Flyers, 7-0, before a roaring sellout crowd at PPG Paints Arena.

Not only did Philadelphia fail to score a single goal in their first playoff game of 2018, but also they allowed Pittsburgh to cruise for an easy 7-0 win, with Sidney Crosby leading the way by finishing with a hat trick.

Not that Pittsburgh's captain wanted to buy into any sort of message sending, even after the Penguins became only the fifth team in National Hockey League history to win a series opener by at least seven goals.

They also had a little bit of help from Claude Giroux, who had one of the best bounce-back seasons in recent memory as he went from scoring 58 points in 2016-17 to a career-best 102 points this year.

It's been so popular, the amount of money bet on Golden Knights games at times, rivaled money being put on National Football League games, which are typically the sports book's most popular events. "You probably see the amount of blocked shots go up in the playoffs, the amount of hits - the little things that may not be on the stat sheet is kind of what I guess gets your team through the playoffs".

That might be a frightening proposition for the rest of the National Hockey League.

Philadelphia goaltender Brian Elliott, who returned from a core muscle injury to play the final two regular-season games, didn't fare well and saved only 14 of 19 shots before being pulled for backup Petr Mrazek.

The weight of the Presidents' Trophy crown - awarded to the league's best regular season team - is often heavy, and the Capitals did not perform well under the high expectations. The Flyers have surrendered three goals or more in eight of their last 10 games.

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Grubauer has only appeared in two playoff games, starting one of them which was back in 2015.

But it still leaves Hakstol with a big decision for Friday's game. The Penguins have the NHL's best power play at 26.2 percent, including the best on home ice at 26.8 percent, while the Flyers have the NHL's 4th best power play while on the road, operating at 23.3 percent. The Jets and Golden Knights had lulls in their victories, but they definitely had the aura of two teams feeling out their opponents. "Everybody just has to be better".

That was Crosby's first of three goals on the night, and he needed only four shots to complete the hat trick. Bryan Rust, Carl Hagelin and Evgeni Malkin each scored in the opening period.

Matt Murray got the start in goal for the Penguins and stopped all 24 shots in the shutout win.

The Flyers stressed the need to stay out of the penalty box and put together three disciplined, competitive periods if they wanted to put an abrupt halt to Pittsburgh's run at history. It didn't happen. Not even close.

Rust struck initially at 2:38 for a 1-0 lead and Hagelin gave them a 2-0 advantage at 10:07.

"I don't think there's ever been a love lost between Toronto and Boston or Montreal and Boston or Philadelphia and Pittsburgh", Laviolette said. The Flyers won that series in six games. After failing to defeat the Penguins even once during the regular season in four meetings, the Flyers entered this game knowing they would be in for quite the challenge, but nobody expected things to end up this bad.

All that before Crosby got involved.

The NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs kicks off Wednesday night with a trio of games, including the first contest between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Even more unbelievable, Crosby would score twice more for a natural hat trick.

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