After winning 8 of their last 10 games, the Flyers felt pretty good about coming into this game. Then they ran into a brick wall.
The Flyers strike first, early in the 2nd period with Radko Gudas taking a fairly innocent looking shot from the point that deflects off Kris Letang and goes in.
Goals in back-to-back games for Radko Gudas. He opens Saturday's scoring. #PITvsPHIhttps://t.co/7eVLbL2kCY— NHL (@NHL) March 19, 2016
The Pens answer very quickly 1:01 later, very nice pass from Nick Bonino to find Trevor Daley who absolutely rifles a shot that literally gets lodged in the roof of the net behind Steve Mason.
A beautiful pass from Bonino set up that Daley tally. Take a closer look: https://t.co/6PxakIVVTv pic.twitter.com/TRDgTggWcN— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 19, 2016
Pittsburgh's pressure continues. Phil Kessel doesn't have a point (at press time) but his strong play gets the puck to Bonino who makes another nice pass, this time to Carl Hagelin. Boss Carl fires it by Mason. Just a hell of a shot.
Let's see that @CarlHagelin goal again. Full replay: https://t.co/HFitCVvBtG pic.twitter.com/ZkKN5X9Prx— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 19, 2016
The Pens stretch the lead out to 3-1 later in the second period with Steve Mason having a Steve Mason moment and kicking a puck into his own net from a Chris Kunitz shot that went wide, but eventually in.
Thanks boards. Here's a full look at the Kunitz tally: https://t.co/xYua7Upw1w pic.twitter.com/5FrhmiGqyb— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 19, 2016
About the best tweet you could hope to see from a Philly media member, just total domination by the Pens through 40 minutes.
Fans boo loudly as second period ends. Pens lead, 3-1. Shots: 27-9.— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) March 19, 2016
Kris Letang scores the empty netter to finish what we all knew, this game was ending up as a big win.
No distinct kicking motion here. Just an empty net goal. pic.twitter.com/ssoNtAOn6A— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 19, 2016
- The Philly PP has torched the Pens, so of course what do the Penguins do in the first 5 minutes? See Brian Dumoulin take only his 6th minor penalty of the season.
- It wasn't Dumoulin's game early, after his partner Trevor Daley hung him out to dry with an ill-advised pinch, Dumo allowed not 1, but 2 passes on the ensuing odd man rush, resulting in an open net chance for Brayden Schenn. Luckily, Schenn would miss.
- Olli Maatta, on the other hand, expertly defended Sam Gagner on a 2-on-1 later in the first period denying the attempted centering pass.
- Phil Kessel, of all people, made 2 nice defensive plays in the first period, first denying Claude Giroux a scoring chance with a well-placed slash, then not letting the puck get by him on a rush, showing some surprising gap-control and stick-work. Kessel made a couple more good plays away from the puck too, including the 2nd Pens goal as mentioned above. He even separated a man from the puck on the forecheck. Very inspired game for old #81.
- And Bonino with 2 assists strings along another solid game. Obviously with Malkin out, the Pens need a lot more out of Bonino and he's come through these past couple games.
- Nice short-handed breakaway by Carl Hagelin late in the first. Shame he couldn't finish but nice to see it earned, and he had to deal with a rolling puck on bad ice. It's been a while since the Pens have had such a pure speedster option on the PK.
- Sidney Crosby up to an 11 game scoring streak with an assist on Kunitz's goal. And, as we pointed out yesterday, the Pens improve their record to 15-8-3 with Crosby in the lineup for games in Philly.
- Bryan Rust gets a long 3 zone breakaway when Mark Streit falls. Mason manages to stop it, but another seemingly daily recap of the chances Rust can make with his speed.
- Penguins improve to 32-0-0 when leading after two periods.
- Not a great night for Justin Schultz on the power play, and they're not using him much at even strength. With Ben Lovejoy about to be ready for game-action again, how much more leash does Schultz have?
- The Pens power play was one of the full dull spots today, going 0/3 and not really getting anything going. Luckily, the Flyers PP (which usually kills the Pens) was 0/3 with some great play by all the Pens PK'ers.
- Luckily, Fleury had such an easy and quiet game, he should be good to go to play tomorrow.
A win is worth 2 points, but this one feels like more. The Penguins playoff path looks really good now with 5 straight games, Crosby rolling and the rest of the team chipping in the sky looks like the limit.