Rob Donatelli was ecstatic to see Sidney Crosby get the first goal in the opening round of the NHL playoff series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers Wednesday night.
Crosby, captain of the Penguins, missed the better part of the regular season due to concussion symptoms but didn't miss a beat as he backhanded the puck past Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov early in the first period.
"It's amazing how Crosby came back," Donatelli said.
Donatelli and a number of other Penguins and Flyers fans were at Arooga's Grille House and Sports Bar in Springettsbury Township to root on their respective teams.
Donatelli was raised to be a Penguins fan. A Pittsburgh native now living in Dallas-
town, he has been a Pens fan for as long as he can remember. He showed his support Wednesday by wearing a Crosby jersey and a Pens hat for the game.
"It's in my blood," he said.
A comeback: While the Flyers fell behind 3-0 in the first period, their fans kept faith in the team.
"They get behind early in games and come back," said Flyers fan Brian Mayer, who was sporting a sweater supporting Scott Hartnell, a left winger for Philly.
And indeed the Flyers came back. About halfway through the third period, Philadelphia tied it up at 3, forcing overtime in the first game of a series fans say will be hard-fought.
Mayer said he thinks the series will go to all seven games with the Flyers pulling out the win.
Fellow Philadelphia fan Greg Seibert of York City was a little more optimistic. He predicts the Flyers will win it in six games.
"They still have to come back to Philly," he said.
Ironically, Seibert had on a jersey celebrating the Flyers' Jaromír Jágr, who helped the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1991 and '92.
But it won't be the Penguins that win the cup this year, Seibert said.
Overtime: Last year, the Flyers had a big problem with goaltending. Before being swept out of the playoffs in the second round by the Boston Bruins, the Flyers had played three different goaltenders in 11 games.
Donatelli said goaltending will be a key factor in the Flyers-Penguins series.
"I really think goaltending will be a big part of it," he said.
Mayer said Bryzgalov has been steady in the net throughout the season and will step up his game in the playoffs.
It didn't take long in the overtime period for the Flyers to cap off their comeback.
Just over two minutes into it, the Flyers' Jakub Voracek sneaked the puck past sprawling Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Nonetheless, Ben Hines, a Penguins fan, said he's confident his team will bounce back later in the series.
"I think we'll pull it off in the end," Hines said.
The next game in the series is Friday night at Pittsburgh.
The Washington Capitals are also in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. They will take on defending champions the Boston Bruins in the first game of the series Thursday night.
NHL Playoffs by the numbers
---2: The number of times the Philadelphia Flyers have won the Stanley Cup.
---3: The number of times the Pittsburgh Penguins have won the Stanley Cup.
---7: Total games in an NHL playoff series.
---13: Cups won by the Toronto Maple Leafs, the second most a team has ever won.
---16: Playoff games a team must win to earn the Stanley Cup.
---19: Most goals in a single playoff season, a record dually held by former Flyers player Reggie Leach (1976) and Jari Kurri (1985).
---23: Most cups won in NHL history, a record held by the Montreal Canadiens.
---151: Most playoff wins by a goalie, notched by Patrick Roy over his career.
---266: Most playoff game appearances by an NHL player over the course of his career, a record held by Chris Chelios.
---1975: The last time the Flyers won the cup.
---2009: The last time the Penguins won the cup.
-- Reach Greg Gross at 505-5434, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/greggrss.