Sunday, May 11, 2008

Penguins 4, Flyers 2

Another solid effort by the Pens tonight led to their 15th straight win at home and gave them a two game lead over the Flyers.

Hatcher was inconsolable after the game (yes, this is my new favorite photo).

Great job by the Pens not to let the Flyers ever take the lead. If they had followed up their goal by Richards with another to grab a 3-2 lead in the third, you might have seen the Pens tighten up a bit. Instead, they stayed steady and played their game, despite all of the physical nonsense the Flyers were up to.

Recap time!

First period:

The intensity had visibly picked up on the part of the Flyers. They were a little more chippy, and later in the period "chippy" would translate to "stupid".

Downie was let out of his cage long enough to take a shot at killing someone behind the Pens' net (can't remember who now - maybe Gonchar?) It's really a borderline charge when he pulls that routine - he leads with the shoulder but pistons himself, driving with his legs, almost looking like a Slinky. You can see why he can only be used sparingly - he can't ratchet it down.

The Flyers were struck with further misfortune on their own blue line when Coburn was hit in the face by a puck. It was a deflection on a shot from the point. It wasn't clear where the shot hit him exactly, but there was a bunch of blood. You don't like to see anyone get hurt, but it wouldn't be the worst thing for the Pens for him to be out.

Tyler Kennedy fought with Scottie Upshall. It was an energetic fight, to say the least, but I think Tyler got full value for his effort. I'll try to find video highlights to put up here.

Sid got the Pens on the board at the start of a second consecutive penalty to the Flyers. He was trying to setup Malone in front, but it deflected off of Cukoo and right past Biron who had left the post to slide across towards Malone. 1-0 Pens.

The Pens nearly got another goal later in the period when Crosby appeared to stuff the puck in just over the goal line. It was impossible to tell definitively, and the lengthy replay proved inconclusive.

You could feel the Flyers starting to turn up the stupid stuff.

Second period:

The Pens started taking penalties early in the second period. The second one, by Dupuis, looked like a phantom call - if there was a nudge by Dupuis, it was a small one. It happens sometimes. Nonetheless, the Pens, who had just finished killing a penalty, were right back on the PK.

This time, the Flyers made them pay on a nice pass from Lupul to Carter. Carter batted the hard pass into the empty net on the far side of Fleury. 1-1 tie.

There was some even strength play for the next eight minutes until Hatcher was called for the can opener on Geno (also known as hooking), putting the Pens on the power play.

They needed just 9 seconds to make this one count when Hossa cleaned up the garbage in front of Biron after a shot to the net from Gonchar. 2-1 Pens.

Late in the period, the ultimate double no-no happened - the Pens allowed a shortie in the last minute of the period. Richards anticipated a pass by Malkin across the top of the offensive zone, picked it off and raced in alone on Flower. He ripped off a great shot high over Fleury's glove hand. 2-2 tie.

As the period was ending, I had some bad feelings. The Richards goal is the kind of marker that can turn a game around, and in this case, turn the series around.

Third period:

Some back and forth for awhile, with only one power play (Pens). The refs were putting their whistles away more and more. You started to see more people being finished off up high (around the head area - Hatcher did it to Sid and Gill did it to Briere).

Almost halfway through the period, Downie fumbled in his own defensive zone and couldn't clear it. Hatcher missed on an attempt as well. Roberts took the puck and sent it to Laraque. They puck got in deep and Roberts made a great play to pass the puck right out in front of Biron, just in time for Max Talbot to swoop in all alone and put the puck in over the shoulder of Biron. 3-2 Pens.

On Downie and Hatcher being unable to clear the puck - it couldn't have happened to two nicer guys.

The Pens went into shutdown mode and were effective at keeping Philly from spending significant time in the offensive zone. The Flyers only really had one good chance, even with Biron pulled, but were unable to cash in.

Staal put them out of their misery with an empty net goal. 4-2 Pens.

I half expected to see the Brute Squad for Philly, and so did Therrien, since he put Roberts, Laraque and Talbot out there immediately after the EN. Nothing happened, though, because Philly kept their offensive guys on the ice for the reminder of the game.

  • Flower was rock solid tonight. You can't fault him for either goal, though you'd like to see him make a huge save on the breakaway - those kinds of things will be needed before we're done.
  • Was anyone else nervous with the fourth line twice in the last 8 minutes while the game was still in doubt? I know they scored, but their lack of speed was obvious.
  • Mike Richards is a pretty good hockey player.
  • Nice to have someone like Gill to return the favor on the cheap shots.
  • I get really tired of watching Jason Smith put both hands on a guy from behind. If you reach out with your free hand when you're behind the guy (not facing the boards), call a penalty. It's that simple.
  • Ruutu has to figure out a way to stop his nonsense. It's going to cost them eventually. Play hockey, and let the calls come as part of the game. Jarkko is a good hockey player.
Next up: A voyage to the City of Brotherly Love for Game 3 on Tuesday night.

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