Jake Guentzel celebrates as Flyers look on Image by: Justin Berl/Getty Images
The Penguins’ 7-0 demolishing of the Flyers was embarrassing for Philadelphia, but they did manage to stave off entering the history books in unfortunate fashion. The contest does fall among the 10 biggest Game 1 playoff blowouts the league has seen, however.
The rout started early enough. Little more than 2:30 into the opening frame, Bryan Rust fired a shot from the left circle that somehow got by Brian Elliott to give the Penguins a quick 1-0 lead. By the midway point of the period, Pittsburgh extended their lead when Carl Hagelin tipped home a Patric Hornqvist pass, and, in an attempt to bury the Flyers before they could even really get going, Evgeni Malkin went coast-to-coast seconds after stepping out of the penalty box and stretched the lead to three.
As the contest went on, it was clear Penguins goaltender Matt Murray wasn’t about to give the Flyers even a sliver of hope as he continued to turn aside every piece of rubber that came his way. And when Jake Guentzel scored to give Pittsburgh a 4-0 lead, the game was as good as over. That didn’t mean the Penguins stopped coming, though. Sidney Crosby scored midway through the second, then eight minutes into the third and, two minutes after his second, the Penguins captain completed the natural hat trick to give him his third career three-goal outing in the post-season.
Try as they might to at least trim the deficit, the Flyers had no luck, and Game 1 in the Battle of Pennsylvania ended with a shocking 7-0 scoreline. Post-game, Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux summed it up as such: “It was one of the worst games I’ve been a part of.” Historically, Giroux is right on the money, too, because the blowout suffered by the Flyers was one of the worst Game 1 defeats in NHL playoff history. There are only 10 other Game 1s in the post-expansion era that have been as bad — or somehow worse — than Pittsburgh’s mauling of Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
APRIL 13, 2000
Pittsburgh Penguins: 7
Washington Capitals: 0
The real rivalry between these two clubs didn’t begin until the Crosby-Ovechkin eras for the respective franchises, but there’s an untold amount of dislike that can be born out of a seven-goal post-season drubbing, so maybe this was the first inkling that the Penguins and Capitals weren’t going to get along. Incredibly, the Jaromir Jagr-led Penguins didn’t get a single goal out of their star, but he had four assists in what became a chippy affair. Here’s a strange bit of symmetry, too: the Penguins’ first goal? It was scored 2:30 into the first period, eight seconds earlier than Rust’s goal. The Flyers should hope this series isn’t a harbinger of what’s to come, because the Capitals bowed out in five games.
APRIL 18, 1990
Edmonton Oilers: 7
Los Angeles Kings: 0
One year earlier, Wayne Gretzky rolled into Edmonton as a member of the Kings and helped Los Angeles dispatch of the Oilers in seven games. But when the two teams met up in the second round of the 1990 post-season, revenge was on Edmonton’s mind and, boy, was their series victory swift. In Game 1, everyone got in on the act as all but four Oilers registered points. No King was spared, either. Every single L.A. skater finished at least minus-1 on the night, and every single L.A. skater was headed for the links three games later as Edmonton completed the four-game sweep.
APRIL 6, 1988
Calgary Flames: 9
Los Angeles Kings: 2
In Pittsburgh’s twin 7-0 wins and the above Oilers victory, the contests didn’t get out of hand quickly. Rather, it was a methodical defeat with the goals stretching across the entire 60-minute affair. Not the case in the Flames’ blowout of the Kings. Six minutes into the first period, Lanny McDonald scored, followed two minutes later by Al MacInnis and 90 seconds later by Joel Otto. And while the Kings would score two of their own to make the score 6-2 at one point, another quick run of goals — three in less than five minutes midway through the third — made an already embarrassing loss a game that Los Angeles couldn’t wait to forget. Unfortunately, the Flames’ offense kept reminding the Kings by scoring at least six in three more games en route to a 4-1 series victory.
APRIL 4, 1984
Edmonton Oilers: 9
Winnipeg Jets: 2
There was never any love lost between the Oilers and the (original version of the) Jets during the 1980s, and it was outings like Game 1 of the first-round tilt between the two teams in 1984 that were responsible for the dislike. The star-studded Edmonton squad scored five times in the first frame, including a Jari Kurri goal 40 seconds into the contest, in their thrashing of Winnipeg. The bigger story was how out of hand the contest became, though. Seven fighting majors were handed out — the Jets’ Jim Kyte received one in a tussle with Dave Lumley, but Lumley was tagged only with a roughing minor — in a game that finished with 60 penalty minutes. The Jets got no measure of revenge, as they were ousted in three games by the Oilers.
APRIL 7, 1982
New York Islanders: 8
Pittsburgh Penguins: 1
Maybe Flyers fans can take some solace in knowing the Penguins have been on the receiving end of a similar blowout in their history. Game 1 of the 1982 first-round series between New York and Pittsburgh wasn’t even close as the Islanders’ top stars took over. Clark Gillies scored twice and had four points, Bryan Trottier had two goals and three points and Mike Bossy fired home a tally, too. Despite what you might think, the game wasn’t representative of the series as it took a deciding Game 5 before New York advanced.
APRIL 8, 1981
New York Islanders: 9
Toronto Maple Leafs: 2
Are you seeing a trend developing here? Almost one year to the day before the Islanders beat the pants off the Penguins, New York laid a similar whooping on Toronto. Unlike many of the games on this list, though, there were some tense moments in this contest. In fact, until Bossy scored at the 7:34 mark of the second frame, the Islanders held a mere 2-1 lead. But Bossy’s goal was followed by a pair of Trottier tallies in quick succession that turned a close game into a rout in a hurry. Bob Bourne put the final nail in the coffin when he scored a shorthanded marker midway through the third. New York swept the three-game series.
APRIL 8, 1980
New York Islanders: 8
Los Angeles Kings: 1
Your eyes do not deceive you. Three years in a row the Islanders laid an absolute butt-kicking on their opponent in the opening game of the post-season, and it all began against the Los Angeles Kings. The most humiliating part of the game for the Kings — apart from the final score, that is — might have been their inability to slow down the Islanders' special teams’ units, and, more specifically, the penalty killers. Twice in one period, Trottier burned Los Angeles while New York was shorthanded. The pair of shorthanded goals made Trottier one of only 12 players in NHL history to score two shorties in one post-season game. The Islanders won the best-of-5 in four games.
APRIL 18, 1968
Montreal Canadiens: 9
Chicago Black Hawks: 2
In the first post-season post-expansion, the Black Hawks drew the powerhouse Canadiens in the second round and the first game was a disaster for Chicago. Three goals in less than three minutes in the first put the Black Hawks in a hole, and the Canadiens continued to dominate by scoring another four goals before Chicago finally answered. Both Yvan Cournoyer and Gilles Tremblay had four-point nights. Montreal would go on to win the series 4-1, but it was closer than either Game 1 or the series score suggests — Game 3 was decided by two goals and Game 4 and Game 5 ended with one-goal margins.
MAY 4, 1985
Edmonton Oilers: 11
Chicago Blackhawks: 2
To the shock of absolutely no one, the dynasty-era Oilers appear on this list. The scoresheet is too long to run down, so let’s just put it this way: six players had at least three-point nights, including Kurri, Glenn Anderson, Charlie Huddy, Randy Gregg, Paul Coffey and Wayne Gretzky. Anderson, Huddy and Kurri scored twice in the outing, too. Here’s a real mind-blower of a statistic: Edmonton shot 26.2 percent in the contest. That means one in every four shots beat the Blackhawks goaltending duo of Murray Bannerman and Warren Skorodenski. Poor goaltenders must have gotten sunburnt from the goal light. Somehow, Chicago managed to rally and push the series to six games before bowing out.
APRIL 2, 1969
Boston Bruins: 10
Toronto Maple Leafs: 0
The biggest Game 1 blowout in NHL history and a contest that was run by Phil Esposito and the Bruins' power play. Esposito scored four goals and finished the outing with six points as Boston scored six times with the man advantage. Statistically, this game is insanity. The Bruins and Maple Leafs combined to take 91 shots — Gerry Cheevers stopped all 40 he faced for the shutout — and the two rivals ended the night with 135 combined penalty minutes. The third period had everything, including six fighting majors, three 10-minute misconducts, one game misconduct and a partridge in a pear tree. Boston went on to blowout the Maple Leafs again in Game 2 by a score of, you guessed it, 7-0, and won the series in a sweep.