ShareThis Page
Pens’ stars fall flat in early exit |

Pens’ stars fall flat in early exit

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby shakes hands with the Flyers' Jaromir Jagr after Game 6 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series Sunday. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
The Penguins look on with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury after losing to the Flyers in Game 6 at the Wells Fargo Center. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
The Penguins' Zbynek Michalek and Marc-Andre Fleury watch the Flyers' Erik Gustaffson after scoring a second period goal in Game 6 at Wells Fargo Center April 22, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
The Flyers' Jaromir Jagr blows by the Penguins' Kris Letang during Game 6 at the Wells Fargo Center April 22, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
The Flyers' Eric Wellwood checks the Penguins' Zbynek Michalek during Game 6 at the Wells Fargo Center on April 22, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
The Penguins' Simon Despres and Kris Letang stand in front of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on April 22, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

PHILADELPHIA — The Penguins weren’t just eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs here on Sunday. Their stars were extinguished.

Those indelible surnames — Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, Letang — weren’t good enough to handle the Flyers in Round 1. They weren’t even close.

The Flyers put away the Penguins in defiant fashion with a 5-1 victory, clinching the series in six games.

“Even before the series started,” said Jaromir Jagr, a Penguins’ star of the past, “I was confident we could go head to head against them.”

But even Jagr couldn’t have predicted how poorly many of the Penguins’ best players would perform.

Sidney Crosby was held without a point in the final two games. Of his eight points in the series, seven came in the first period. He has scored three goals in his past 14 postseason games.

Evgeni Malkin scored the Penguins’ only goal yesterday, but he endured the most frustrating series of his career, as turnovers and bad penalties overshadowed his sporadic offensive output.

“The potential was there,” Penguins right wing Pascal Dupuis said. “At the same time, you can have the best players in the game, but if you don’t execute, don’t battle, don’t work hard, you’re not going to win.”

The Penguins also aren’t going to win if their stars don’t perform like stars.

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, coming off perhaps his finest regular season, was unable to duplicate his Game 5 magic in what will be remembered as his poorest postseason series. He allowed 26 goals in all, perhaps none more damaging than center Claude Giroux’s 32 seconds into the opening period yesterday.

Instead of feeding off the momentum of winning Games 4 and 5, the Penguins found themselves down before the opening shift was complete.

“We came in with so much momentum,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “We were playing good hockey. And right away … instead of being in control, we’re chasing it.”

The Penguins lost the series because of their inability to keep pucks — 30 over six games — out of their net.

But also consider the following:

• Giroux outscored Crosby, 14-8;

• Flyers teenage center sensation Sean Couturier largely shut down Malkin;

• Letang’s play was spotty throughout. He was a minus-2 yesterday;

• For all of Philadelphia goalie Ilya Bryzgalov’s inglorious moments, he permitted five fewer goals than Fleury.

Even Jordan Staal, magnificent for much of the series with six goals, lost track of Flyers winger Jakub Voracek, who scored the overtime game-winner in Game 1.

Crosby certainly didn’t expect the early postseason exit.

“That’s hockey sometimes,” he said. “You don’t always get to achieve the stuff you want to, and there’s a lot of other teams that want the same thing.”

But few, if any, were built to win like these Penguins.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.