Pittsburgh, PA: It was a hockey night in Pittsburgh that did not disappoint, with Philadelphia overpowering playoff-bound Pittsburgh. The Wednesday Night Rivalry at Consol Energy Center fueled the ongoing battle in the Keystone State.
This Metropolitan Division game included the Philadelphia Flyers (31-29-17) versus the Pittsburgh Penguins (42-24-11); Pittsburgh played without star centerman Evgeni Malkin and defensemen Kris Letang, dressing only five defensemen and Philadelphia missed right winger Wayne Simmonds.
Steve Mason (.927%) and Marc Andre Fleury (.921%) started between the pipes for Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, respectively. Play began with a shot on net by the Flyers, quickly frozen by Fleury. The ensuing minutes ticked away with a strong forecheck by the Penguins’ offense and solid back and forth play through the neutral zone for the Flyers. An offensive zone face-off and two rebounds in front of the net resulted in Penguins’ Captain, Sidney Crosby’s (26) 300th career goal.
The Flyers retaliated with a face-off win at center ice and tough play around the Pittsburgh net. A few odd man rushes into the Flyers’ zone kept up the intensity and the Penguins’ speed got the best of Zac Rinaldo when he was called for tripping at 8:29. The Flyers’ Penalty Kill, ranked 29th in the league was able to hold off the 8th place Penguins’ Power Play.
The determined play of both teams resulted in a Flyers Power Play at 13:52 with a cross-checking penalty awarded to Nick Spaling. Philly came up short after a spirited run at the net and outstanding play continued when Vincent Lecavalier (8) won a face-off, split the defense and notched a goal past Fleury.
At the end of one, the board read Golden Triangle Boys 1, Broad Street Boys 1.
Philadelphia offense dominated the second period and Pittsburgh penalty woes amassed. A quick man advantage for Pittsburgh was one of the few offensive highlights for the home team, who peppered Mason with shots as Nick Schultz went to the sin bin at 1:11 for slashing.
The Flyers fought off the surge as Pittsburgh’s Brandon Sutter was sent off for delay of game at 3:30. The Power Play proved a non-issue and almost immediately, the Flyers, went back on the Power Play; a roughing penalty by Pittsburgh’s Steve Downie, the league leader in penalty minutes, at 6:49 added insult to injury. The Flyers failed to tally with the man advantage.
Pushing through the neutral zone, Philly caught the Penguins off-guard and at 12:43 and Brayden Schenn (15) buried the puck behind Fleury to raise the Flyers up 2-1. Once again, odds were stacked in favor of the men in orange when David Perron was called for interference at 16:02.
Killing off the penalty, the Penguins turned over the puck at center ice and Downie returned to the box for tripping. Previously, Philly had beaten Pittsburgh on six straight occasions and this seventh game had no true standings implication for Philadelphia, since they are out of the playoff race.
At the end of the second, the Flyers’ Power Play was 0/4 and the Penguins’ power play was 0/2, with Philadelphia up 2-1.
The Flyers scored shortly after puck drop in the third with a Brayden Schenn (16) goal assisted by Jakub Voracek at 0:49. Four on four hockey followed as a result of the Chris Kunitz slash on Zac Rinaldo, who was then called for embellishment at 3:23. Philadelphia’s Carlo Colaiacovo (1) stretched their lead to 3 with a face-off win in the offensive zone and a relentless aggression in front of the crease.
Blake Comeau’s high stick knocked goal-scorer Carlo Colaiacovo in the face, sending him off the ice, but no blood was drawn and thus, no penalty called. Again the boys from Philly stretched play from end to end, as seats emptied in the arena of a usually packed house.
Although the Flyers have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs this year, coach Craig Berube has hope for the franchise in the future. Factor in Brayden Schenn’s two goals and his young age, with a strong leader in Captain Claude Giroux and Philadelphia will be contenders in 2015-16. This win lifted the Flyers’ overall record at Consol Energy Center to 11-2 against their rivals. As for the Penguins, in order to be true playoff contenders this season, Malkin, Ehrhoff and Letang will need to be healthy and on the ice instead of in the press box.
Final score, Pittsburgh 1, Philadelphia 4