By Dan Majka
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – At 2:35 a.m. — on the morning of May 5, 2000 – Keith Primeau scored a goal in the fifth overtime of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinal to lift the Flyers past the Penguins, exactly seven hours after the game started. Philadelphia went on to eliminate Pittsburgh in six.
That was the last time the Flyers beat the Penguins in a playoff series.
Starting on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, the Flyers and Penguins will renew their cross-state rivalry and begin what will be the sixth meeting all-time between the two teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“I think it’s going to be a rough series,” said Flyers forward Claude Giroux. “It won’t be easy. They want to win as bad as us.”
Historically, the Flyers own a 3-2 postseason series edge over the Penguins, but most recently Pittsburgh has been the better team. The Pens were responsible for the Flyers departure from the playoffs in 2008 and then again in 2009 on their way to winning the Stanley Cup.
This is a new year, however, and both teams will tell you that history is just that…history. What happened in their head-to-head match ups during the regular season is also irrelevant…but in terms of wins and losses only.
The bad blood between the two foes still remains.
As bitter rivals, the Flyers and Penguins don’t like one another. That was never more evident than in their fifth regular season meeting last week, which saw all ten players on the ice fighting and the coaches up of the benches screaming at each other.
That animosity will no doubt be there throughout this series.
“We know it’s going to be a battle out there,” said Flyers rookie Brayden Schenn. “There’s a lot of bad blood already between the two teams and there will probably be more after the series is done.”
I expect a pretty intense series,” said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. “Those are the kind of series you want to be a part of. It makes it exciting for everyone, but it’s kind of what’s expected between these two teams.”
The Flyers were 4-2 against the Penguins during the regular season, including a pair of wins at CONSOL Energy Center where the teams will skate in Games 1 and 2, and then in Games 5 and 7, if necessary. And while the Orange and Black would prefer to have the home-ice advantage and open the series in front of their own fans at the Wells Fargo Center, they’re not concerned about playing away from Philadelphia.
It’s pretty easy to wake up and play the Pittsburgh Penguins,” added Giroux. “They’re a rival team. We’re not big fans of their players on the other side. And especially on the road, we’ve been pretty good this year. That’s one reason we’ve been successful. On the road, we go in buildings and we go out work other teams and we have fun doing it.”
The Flyers recorded a franchise-best 25 road wins this season, but they’ll need at least one more in Pittsburgh if they’re going to advance to the second round.