The Penguins (42-27-6) and the Flyers (38-25-12) were set to duel at PPG Paints Arena with two big points on the line. As a matter of fact, two points were all that separated both teams in the standings, as the Penguins had 90 points, while Philadelphia had amassed 88 points.
If you’re wondering why Jamie Oleksiak was paired with Kris Letang, then take a look at this convenient post from Hooks.
Five minutes into the game, the Flyers struck to take an early 1-0 lead. Philadelphia’s Travis Sanheim ripped a shot up and over the glove of Matt Murray.
The Penguins would respond at 9:38. Conor Sheary flipped the puck up and over the Flyers defense for Derick Brassard to take and bury for the equalizer.
They call him Big Game Brass for a reason pic.twitter.com/JXgSlvpIiq— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) March 25, 2018
Moments after the tying goal, Brandon Manning ripped a slapper by the glove of Murray to regain the lead.
With five minutes left in the first period, Brian Dumoulin was caught hooking Sean Couturier, giving Philadelphia their first power-play of the game.
Right after the kill, Couturier was penalized for hooking Bryan Rust and Pittsburgh, with the league’s best power-play, would take to the ice.
The first power-play would reach its natural conclusion, but Jakub Voracek would be called for cross-checking Carl Hagelin, giving Pittsburgh back-to-back power-plays.
The first period would come to an end and the Penguins would take 1:49 of carryover PP time into the second frame.
Some stats and notes after one:
Intermission tidbits:— PensBurgh (@Pensburgh) March 25, 2018
• The Flyers lead in shots 14-6.
• Philly owns offensive chances so far, posting a 65.4 CF% compared to the Pens lowly 34.6%.
• Murray allowed two almost identical 40-foot shots go past him on his glove side. Zero traffic in front of him on both.
37 seconds into the second period, Patric Hornqvist, from his office, buried the power-play goal to tie the game up at 2. Great, great passing sequence to set up the goal.
Two minutes later, Jordan Weal was penalized and the Penguins were granted the extra attacker. After a prolonged sequence with a 6-on-5 advantage, Evgeni Malkin BURIED the go-ahead goal with a sweet wrist shot. That was Malkin’s 42nd goal of the year.
Tic, tac, toe drag... Five-hole. pic.twitter.com/AvfTX0Iyd3— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 25, 2018
Alex Lyon would be yanked for Petr Mrazek in net.
The pace of play would be picked up towards the latter half of the period. Chances were being created at both ends. Chad Ruhwedel made a great play with his stick to prevent a Flyers goal while Murray was out of position, then Crosby flew to the other end and just missed Mrazek’s glove side.
Derick Brassard was called for high-sticking. Jordan Weal shot it off the rebound and Murray had no chance to get to the opposite post. The game was tied at 3.
Seconds later, Brian Dumoulin was penalized for cross-checking Travis Konecny, and the Flyers were sent to the power-play again. This penalty would be killed.
The period would come to an end with both teams now tied at 3.
Stats after 40 minutes:
17 seconds into the period, Sidney Crosby straight up embarrassed Sean Couturier to take a 4-3 lead. It was pure domination.
CAPTAIN CROSBY, IN HIS ELEMENT!— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 25, 2018
Sid's point streak versus Philly is now at four games (2G-6A). He has more goals against the Flyers than any other team (38). pic.twitter.com/woWQxFitaI
Not a lot of meaningful action to report on through the majority of the period. Jake Guentzel and Conor Sheary both had good chances to extend the lead, but the puck never tickled the twine.
The Flyers would pull Mrazek for the extra man with two minutes left in regulation.
With 42.6 seconds left in the game, Sean Couturier tied the game up at 4.
The Penguins practically dominated the overtime session. Most of it was spent in the Flyers’ zone. And who else but the co-owner of the Flyers, Sidney Crosby, who was able to get the puck on net for Bryan Rust to redirect it by Mrazek for a 5-4 OT win.
- After a shaky first period, Matt Murray really settled in during the second. He was stopping just about everything thrown his way. Overall, Murray gave a solid performance, stopping 41 of 45 shots.
- Defense was... eh? There were still a few key times were players were glaringly out of position and the NBC telecast made several mentions of it. If the Letang-Oleksiak pairing is going to be a long-term investment, let’s give it some more time to gain some chemistry and then reassess things on the blue line.
- The big guns were definitely on display in this contest. Malkin and Crosby’s presence were felt from start to finish and it shows on the scoresheet.
- The Pens will return to action on Tuesday night when they travel to Detroit to face the Red Wings. As it stands now, the magic number for the Penguins to clinch a playoff is at 9.