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Pittsburgh vs. Flyers Recap: Fly Penguins Fly, on the road to VICTORY!

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The back-to-back Stanley Cup champs show how it’s done with their 3rd win against the Flyers in as many meetings. Sidney Crosby with a 3 point night and another milestone

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Lineups

As expected, no changes from last game’s win for your Pittsburgh Penguins.

1st period

Fairly even in the early going and then a Flyers player takes an offensive zone penalty. Pittsburgh gets some decent zone time with the top power play unit but doesn’t pull the trigger or score and Philly survives the first chance.

Then Robert Hagg boards Bryan Rust straight to the quiet room with an unnecessary leaping hit to give Pittsburgh a second power play.

It’s short lived, since Phil Kessel falls and then trips a Flyer for an obvious call, but 4v4 cycles to a quick penalty kill and back to 5 on 5.

Andrew MacDonald holds Conor Sheary and we again watch the Pens over-pass the puck and take a penalty while on their power play. Wait, this is not the good kind of history repeating itself, but fortunately Philly can’t score on their brief power play when it cycles back through.

Oscar Lindbolm takes the FOURTH Philly penalty of the game already when he high-sticks Derick Brassard for one last power play chance in the first for the Pens and they make the most of with with way more pretty passes and finally one finish when Evgeni Malkin hits Phil Kessel for an open net, slam dunk goal and it’s 1-0 Pens.

Shots after one are 11-8 Pittsburgh. At 5v5 shots are 8-7 Philly. Pittsburgh spent a total of 5:32 on the power play, 2:43 killing penalties and only 11:45 at full strength.

2nd period

Early in the second was the period of posts; first Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere rings a shot off the cross bar then Kessel hits one at the other end.

The Flyers tie the game when Nolan Patrick picks the pocket of Brassard and Jakub Voracek fires a puck at the net. It hits Brassard, maybe Patrick but slides in. 1-1.

Claude Giroux gets a good scoring chance but Tristan Jarry makes a save. Flyers starting to get more chances and they score when Jarry can’t control an incoming puck and Travis Konecny gets stick to the puck and it’s on Jarry’s leg pad and somehow the puck rides up the pad and gets flung over it. 2-1 Philly.

The tide has turned against the Pens here but they get a TV timeout and regroup. Jamie Oleksiak with a good shift in the offensive zone and he fires in on net with Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby setting screens in front. The puck goes in. Goalie interference is in play but Guentzel isn’t even in the crease, man. Good goal and we’re tied at 2.

The Flyers pin the Pens deep for an extended shift and Riley Sheahan puts an end to that (the good news) but he did it by interfering with a Flyer (that’s the bad news). Philly to their 3rd power play of the game but the Pens PK holds tight.

Soon after the power play, Oleksiak hits another post and then Sidney Crosby leads a 2-on-1. Sid shoots, Petr Mrazek makes a save but leaves a juicy rebound. Conor Sheary is right there to finish it and give the Pens a 3-2 lead.

Oleksiak continues his busy night taking down Voracek and taking a trip to the box because of it, but Philly comes up empty again in PP attempt #4 on the night.

And good thing they held, because Sid and the Kids are BACK, baby! Li’l Conor with his 2nd of the period with Mrazek all out of sorts and the visiting Pens take a 4-2 lead into 2nd intermission.

Shots in the 2nd period were 11-10 Flyers, but more importantly goals were 3-2 Pens in the middle frame. The Pens spent 0:00 on the PP that period, 4:00 short-handed and 16:00 at even.

3rd period

Tick, tick tick, tick-tick. Clock is moving along. Evgeni Malkin reaches a bit too far with his stick and trips a Flyer with 8:57 left, easy call for a 5th Philly PP of the eve but for the 5th time the Pens PK has an answer and keeps them off the scoreboard.

Philly pulls their goalie with 2:04 left and down 2 goals. It doesn’t pay off. Malkin gets #38 of the season. 5-2 Pens.

Some Thoughts

  • Conor Sheary replaced Bryan Rust on the Malkin line for the first period then with 11 (and eventually 10) healthy forwards left the lines went into the blender with all sorts of combinations. Rust didn’t return after getting drilled into the boards as seen above.
  • In a weird way, the Rust injury opened the door for the possibility for Sheary to get out of the 4th line doghouse and get some time with Crosby. It paid off with 2 goals. Never good to see a player suffer an injury, but with injury comes opportunity and good for Sheary to step up and make the most of his, even if it came in unfortunate circumstance.
  • Dominik Simon wasn’t on the bench for the 3rd period so the Pens were down to 10 forwards for the last 20 minutes. Nothing very obvious seemed to happen to Simon, so we’ll have to wait for an update on that one.
  • Pass pass pass pass pass. Look I’m the Penguins power play. No matter if they were using Letang or Schultz as the top point man, the first group was a little too stationary and a little too pass-happy in the first period. Luckily they snapped out of it with Kessel cutting to the net and Malkin making a beauty of a pass right to him.
  • The Pens PK was clutch though going 5/5, and per a stat on NBC they’re now 12/13 on the season against Philly. We likey!
  • Oleksiak is a guy who is flourishing in these Pens/Flyers games, as you may expect from a 6’7 defenseman with an edge who can skate. As the Pens tweet above mentions, of the 3 goals the big guy has scored as a Penguin, 2 have come against Philly. And he’s only played 2 games vs. PHI as a Pen. Can’t beat that.
  • Crosby with his 1,100th career point and no better venue to get it in. Ahh, who sucks now Philly?
  • As mentioned in our game preview, Mrazek has struggled in his career versus Pittsburgh with a GAA above 4.0 in six starts. Well make that seven starts and still a GAA north of 4.
  • Tristan Jarry is an NHL goalie and has won 3 games straight. What he is doing is working from him and it’s easy to be a goalie expert from behind a keyboard. That said, his rebound control is costly at times and something the youngster could stand to improve. It cost him on the Flyers 2nd goal and almost did several other near misses. It seems like an aspect of his game to address and work on, and he is just 22 with a handful of NHL games so surely that will be some to think about there.
  • And just like that the Pens (82 points) move ahead of Washington (81) for first place in the Metro, if only for one day. The Caps do have 2 games in hand on Pittsburgh currently.

The Pens head back to Pittsburgh tonight and get a well-earned rest day tomorrow before prepping to go to Toronto for Saturday.