Penguins 3- Flyers 6
With Marc-Andre Fleury healthy and returning to the lineup, Dany Sabourin still got the nod in net as expected Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia. That decision may have lost the game for the Penguins from the start. After a not-so-stellar performance against the New Jersey Devils last Wednesday, Sabu could not find a way to get back on track, though he did not have much offensive support to back him up.
The game started with some early penalties, and the second Penguin minor against Matt Cooke deemed to be costly. A bounce off the boards behind the net led to a Joffrey Lupul wrap-around power play goal. The red-hot Flyers continued to dominate the first by drawing another penalty, which led to a Mike Knuble power play goal. At this point in the game, the Flyers were out-shooting the Pens 10-3. The Penguins had three power play chances of their own, but were only able to register one shot. Throughout the entire first period, the Flyers clearly out-played, out-shot, and out-hustled the Penguins.
The Penguins came out in the second continuing to struggle. But a quick play off a faceoff led to Ruslan Fedotenko carrying the puck into the offensive zone. He found Alex Goligoski sitting at the blue line, and “Go-Go” passed to a streaking Jordan Staal heading towards the net. A quick tip into the net and the Pens got themselves back into the game.
Just when the Pens began to look comfortable in the game, a turnover in the neutral zone led to Flyer captain Mike Richards riffling a shot into the net to regain the two-goal lead. Just 2:29 later, a tic-tac-toe play in the zone by the Flyers set up Scott Harntell for his 10th goal on the season. Pascal Dupuis took a high sticking penalty late in the second, and the Pens could not stop the bleeding. Mike Richards faked a slapper and found Mike Knuble for the deflection in front of the net for the third power play goal for the Flyers. With only six shots in the period, the Flyers managed to score three goals, and extend their lead to 5-1.
There was a possibility that Marc-Andre Fleury would play the third period in the net for the Penguins, getting him some game-time looks to assure he will be ready to start next Thursday in Atlanta. But to some surprise, Sabourin remained in net.
As expected in any Flyers/Pens game, there was a physical scrum between Matt Cooke and Mike Richards leading to offsetting minor penalties. But Sidney Crosby, always fired-up when playing in Philadelphia, was there to back up his winger as he jumped onto Richards’ back to show his team was not prepared to back down. Just minutes later, the Penguins finally found the back of the net again. In a similar play to the first goal, Sykora found Eric Godard streaking in front of the net for the deflection and his first goal as a Penguin.
Godard’s goal sparked his emotions when soon after he did what most Pens fans would love to do….fight Scott Hartnell. Godard jumped in with a quick first punch and took Harntell down in a matter of seconds. He would finish only an assist shy of the Gordie Howe hat trick. Unfortunately, Godard would receive an additional roughing minor along with a five-minute major, which lead to another power play for the Flyers. As they had done three other times in the game, the Flyers scored a power play goal, now their fourth, from Jeff Carter. The Penguins would receive a power play chance of there own where Ruslan Fedotenko cashed-in late to make the score 6-3 Flyers.
The Pens clearly looked uncomfortable from the start. The Flyers have been on fire lately, and the Pens were coming off a highly emotional 9-2 victory over the Islanders.
The Penguins will get a much-needed four days off before traveling to Atlanta next Thursday. This will also give the Pens time to get healthy. Marc-Andre Fleury was ready for backup duty today, but is expected to start in Atlanta. Also note that Flower will need to play in six of the Pens’ remaining eight games before January 2nd to be eligible to play in the All-Star game. Also hoping to get healthy soon is Ryan Whitney. Whit has been practicing with the Penguins and hopes to return by Christmas.
Dan | PPT