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Game 3 Recap: Our turn for a blowout. Pens down Flyers 5-1

The back and forth series swings in Pittsburgh’s way this time

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


The Penguins are the same personnel as Game 2, which is a good thing since it means defenseman Kris Letang is able to play.

The Flyers, likewise, make no changes from their Game 2 win.

1st period

The Pens change lines up a bit, Patric Hornqvist starts the game on the Guenztel-Crosby line, and Phil Kessel is up with Evgeni Malkin on a super-charged 2nd line. Bryan Rust is on the 3rd line with Derick Brassard and Conor Sheary.

The game doesn’t start great, Nolan Patrick skates past Olli Maatta for a clean breakaway moments into the game. Matt Murray makes a huge glove save on Patrick to keep the score at 0-0.

Philly keeps the pressure up, aided by bad turnovers by multiple different Pens players who can’t clear the zone. But the Flyers don’t get that many clean shots on goal and when they do Murray is up to the task.

Pittsburgh finally gets a first shot on goal 9:30 into the period, with Tom Kuhnhackl having a lot of open net staring at him from an out of position Brian Elliott. Unfortunately Kuhnhackl shoots the puck into the goalie.

Behind the play, Letang and Sean Couturier get tangled up behind the play and shove each other a bit. Fairly standard. Couturier then throws a gloved punch to Letang’s head, bloodying his nose. It’s the NHL so it’s naturally not a penalty to do such a thing.

After looking pretty lifeless, the Penguins are the ones to open the scoring. Hornqvist feeds Sidney Crosby in front of the net and the captain quickly darts behind the net to the other side and beats Elliott to the post, wrapping in a goal. 1-0 Pens.

Two shifts later Bryan Rust trips Travis Konecny and sends Philly to the game’s first power play. The Pens are able to kill it off without too much trouble and are able to clear the puck a couple times to keep the clock moving.

Then it’s Pittsburgh’s chance for a power play when Brandon Manning gives Hornqvist a rough ride into the boards. The Pens get some good zone time but Philly mainly keeps them on the perimeter and they’re unable to score as well with only one good shot on net by Phil Kessel that Elliott stopped with his left leg.

The Flyers earn another power play by keeping the pressure on and Carl Hagelin slashes a player in the d-zone. Philly gets unreal zone time and a ton of looks at the net, but they also over-pass a little looking for a perfect cross-ice pass and play that never develops. Pittsburgh escapes the period.

Shots are 11-4 overall Philly. None of the stats are pretty it’s 20-9 PHI for 5v5 Corsi per Natural Stat Trick, 7-1 high danger 5v5 chances, 12-3 PHI 5v5 scoring chances. But the stat that matters most is 1-0 Pens on the scoreboard after 20 minutes, which you’ll take every time on the road.

2nd period

Pittsburgh kills off the last few seconds of the Hagelin penalty and then they quickly get their second power play of the game when Claude Giroux slashes the stick out of Crosby’s hands. The Pens make Philly pay, with Kessel making a beautiful little bump pass out to Derick Brassard for a better angle to fire the puck past Elliott to make it 2-0.

Jakub Voracek (who IS apparently playing in this series) pulls off a rare feat to hook Brassard and then high-stick Conor Sheary in the mouth, drawing blood from the lip. Somehow the call ends up...a 2 minute minor for hooking? Just ignoring the blood, weird reffing.

Anyways the Pens end up with a 4v3 and Letang feeds Malkin who hammers the puck as only he can. 3-0 Pens.

Back to a 4v4 and on the ensuing face-off Crosby goes forward with the puck leaving Giroux in the dust. Then Sid makes a SUBLIME backhand pass right to Brian Dumoulin who is wide open and drives the puck past Elliott. 4-0 just like that and the Pens have ripped this game open.

The Wells Fargo Center sits in a stunned silence after those 2 goals in 5 seconds. The home team gets their first of the game a bit later with Voracek feeding Travis Sanheim who shoots from the point. The puck just beats Dumoulin who is trying to block it. Murray never sees the puck because of the traffic in front and it’s a 4-1 game with about 6 minutes left in the 2nd.

Shots are 13-8 Pens in the 2nd period and 19-17 Philly overall in the game.

3rd period

Early in the period Scott Laughton of the Flyers gets a penalty for high-sticking Crosby. The Pens don’t score but 2 minutes comes off the clock. Tick tick tick.

Pittsburgh gets to go back on the power play when Voracek tomahawks Jamie Olekisak over the back of the head with his stick. Probably didn’t mean to do it but the damage was done and the Pens take advantage with is, Justin Schultz blasts a shot from the point to make it 5-1.

The Pens get a 3-on-1 and a chance to make this a total laugher, some nice puck movement from Hagelin to Letang back to Hagelin and over to Rust...Who can’t get enough lift on the shot and Elliott does well to get over and make the save.

Radko Gudas is Radko Gudas so he wants to join in the Philly parade to the penalty box, taking a needless tripping penalty. Pittsburgh’s back to the power play for the 6th time and while they don’t score, the clock keeps on drawing near 0:00.

Later Schultz takes a penalty, Pittsburgh kills it but in the immediate aftermath Riley Sheahan also takes a penalty. the Pens kill that off too and mostly both teams are just looking to get out of here.

Shots for the 3rd period end up 9-8 Pens. 27-26 overall Philly for the game.

Some Thoughts:

  • Murray was great early on and had a savvy little move too, to buy the Pens some time. On Giroux’s penalty Crosby and Hornqvist had a long shift leading up to that. Murray went to the bench in the stoppage to get his skate worked on, getting a longer breather for the guys. Ironically it didn’t matter too much and Crosby changed early anyways which put Brassard on the ice and he scored a goal to make it 2-0, but it’s the little things.
  • The Pens got away with too many men on the ice (briefly) in the first period. The Flyers did the same in the second. Usually evens out like that. Philly pushed their luck a little too much and got rung up for a too many men later in the game.
  • Bryan Rust took a bad penalty, again. Sullivan didn’t seem to like that last game and even though the line shuffling may just be as simple as moving Hornqvist up because he’s playing well, it’s also fitting the other way to bump Rust away from Crosby at least temporarily.
  • Matt Murray is now 9-1 career in the playoffs the game after a loss, with a GAA well below 2. His ability to turn the page quickly and keep the puck out of the net after (usually) a poor effort is very clutch. And Murray’s stellar play in the 1st period where he was bombarded but coolly kept the puck out of the net shouldn’t be forgotten or overlooked either. Murray was about the only Penguin who looked ready to play from the start of the game, and luckily so.
  • After the power play let them down in Game 2, it came up huge for the Pens in Game 3. 3/6 with the man advantage is a great day at the office. If the Flyers are going to be sloppy enough to give power plays with too many men’s and high sticks and slashing sticks, basically automatic calls, then you gotta take advantage.
  • The penalty kill was stout too going a perfect 5/5. They allowed some shots and Philly’s PP at the end of the 1st period was harrowing with their zone time and shots but Murray was in control.
  • Thanks to the blowout and a lot of penalties, Kessel played more on the PP (9:27) than he did at ES (8:47). While normally that might not sound promising to have so much PP time, Kessel was on the ice for all 3 PP goals, so that’s a good thing. Getting to have so much time is also ideal.
  • Every Penguin player (save Kessel and Sheary) was credited with a hit today, but the Pens only had 27 official hits today. Nice team effort for everyone chipping in. The Flyers had a total of 38 official hits.
  • Less than 48 hours after his tough Game 2 and being injured for a bit, Kris Letang bounced back with 2nd game-highest 25:40 TOI, 2 assists, +1, 2 blocked shots, the bloody nose from Couturier. A very eventful and sucessful game for the Pens stud dman.
  • 6 out of 7 times there’s been a Pens/Flyers game this year, Pittsburgh has scored 5+ goals. Just keep on firing, boys. They’re going to go in sooner than later.

Interestingly this series is now off until Wednesday night when Game 4 will be back in Philly. the Pens are using this extra break to fly home to Pittsburgh tonight. They’re scheduled for a day off tomorrow, followed by a practice at UPMC Lemieux Tuesday morning after which the Pens will head back east to Philly. To me, an interesting logistical wrinkle and positive one that Pittsburgh gets to not have to spend a ton of time on the road.