It was close, but you know what they say...
When you consider how the game began, the Penguins were fortunate to even be in a position where they could remain in striking distance for the better part of the night. Danny Briere's freak goal aside (pretty sure I saw that in NHL 10 two years ago), the Pens were completely manhandled for the first 20 minutes. The Flyers' penalty kill looked like the power play, five-on-five hockey looked like Philadelphia shooting practice and nothing was tilting towards Ilya Bryzgalov's net. By the end of the first the shot total would favor Philly 15-8, but it might as well have been 200-8.
Things turned a bit in the second period - for the worst that is. Wayne Simmonds had exactly three-hundred square feet of space to work with and could've taken 10 minutes to shoot the puck to put the Flyers up 2-0. He was that wide open on the power play. Five minutes later it was Scott Hartnell who made it 3-0, before James Neal picked up his 15th of the year less than a minute later to at least fuel optimism for the final 20.
It's almost as if the Penguins figured out the Flyers too late into the game. After combining for 13 shots over the first two periods, Pittsburgh tallied 14 (and a goal) in the third to finish this one 3-2. Given the rate of offensive fire over the last couple of games, one has to wonder what - if anything - the Pens could've done in this game had they possessed the third period mentality for the first 40 minutes.
A few moral victories to take from on the night, seeing as how that's all we have to bank on. Max Talbot had a clear shot on goal in the first period but his old buddy Marc-Andre Fleury snagged it out of thin air and busted out his patented ear-to-ear grin. As hard as Talbot tried, the points weren't coming tonight. Very surprised to see he ended the game with only two shots since it felt like he took about eight or nine. But I guess that comes with the territory when you're watching one guy so closely.
As for Jaromir Jagr, he displayed zeros across the board and five total shots on goal. At one point in the first period he busted through the center of the ice and in on goal to draw a Steve Sullivan penalty. If you watched Pens hockey in the 90's then you were probably thinking the same thing I was on that: 1) he used to do the exact same thing in Pittsburgh and 2) that wouldn't be a call in the pre-lockout league.
Can't say I watch that many Flyers games, but I definitely watch even less Blue Jackets games. This is why I have to admit I'm really impressed with Jakub Voracek. His pass to Simmonds on the Flyers' PP was on the money. Dude might be one of the more underrated offseason transactions. Playing on a one-year deal, he's definitely building up some nice stock for next summer.
Islanders Saturday at 7pm.