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Penguins/Flyers Recap: Pittsburgh blows out Philadelphia in a laugher

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It was all Pens early in a four goal explosion in the first period and that led to a big Pittsburgh win over the Flyers

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The good news for the Penguins started before the puck even dropped, as they got healthier with the return from injury by defenseman Brian Dumoulin and forward Alex Galchenyuk to add to an increasingly stronger team.

(It feels like the fourth line tonight was like a “second” line for a couple weeks, doesn’t it?)

First period

The Flyers actually hold the Pens off the scoreboard for the first 5:57 of the game. Justin Schultz changes that with a fairly routine looking shot from right against the boards, totally non-threatening spot. It doesn’t look like Bryan Rust gets a piece of it but it still flutters by Brian Elliott anyways to make it 1-0.

It would be 2-0 soon after when Rust outworked someone named Mikhail Vorobyev and then Ivan Provorov just skates right past Dominik Kahun for some reason so Kahun finds Jared McCann through a puck watching team that watched McCann deposit his fourth goal of the season.

At this point, the Pens could smell the blood in the water and threw out the first line. They get in on the action when Sidney Crosby bumps the puck off the board into the middle for Dominik Simon. Simon shoots far-side past Elliott to make it 3-0 and the rout is officially on.

We get more just after the 14 minute mark to conclude the flurry. Simon makes a beauty of a cross-ice pass to Crosby who drifts back, back, back (shoutout Chris Berman), back and snaps a shot from an angle the English language can’t capture to the top-shelf past a helpless Elliott.

The camera goes to backup Carter Hart on the bench (who himself has given up 12 goals in the last 122 minutes he has played) and he looks like he’s either faking illness or actually getting sick at the thought of being thrown to the wolves, but they leave Elliott in.

Shots in the first period are 16-6 Pens. Natural Stat Trick has 5v5 scoring chances at 11-4 (we’ll leave you to guess which team has which).

Second period

Jack Johnson can’t receive a simple pass (on the left side!) exhibit 234,429 leads to a 2-on-1 for Philly, but luckily John Marino reads, reacts and breaks it up.

McCann gets a step and what looks like a breakaway and tries a side/drop pass looking thing for Kahun. A bit too fancy at times, but hey, when it’s 4-0 no worries.

The Pens get a power play but Crosby takes an “interference” for bumping Sean Couturier who, ahem, dramatically falls over. Sid does a fantastic dismissive hand wave upon the call. Pittsburgh kills it off.

The Pens make it 5-0. Crosby wins a clean faceoff over baton boy Claude Giroux, the first line gets back to work, Elliott’s eventually swimming in his crease and Jake Guentzel is able to tap it past Elliott and Provorov into the net.

20 seconds later, it’s 6-0. Another o-zone faceoff win for the Pens, Brandon Tanev works the puck back to the point for Johnson who successfully receives a pass this time (!!) and throws the puck on the net that Zach Aston-Reese puts a tip on and goes in by Elliott. “Somebody stop the damn match!”

Shots are 28-21 Pens after two periods, in the type of game you just wish would never end.

Third period

Carter Hart’s respite on the bench is over as the Flyers do throw him in for the third (no doubt hoping some score effects and a quiet period might be in store).

The Pens’ shutout bid ends just 1:57 into the period Matt Murray gives up his first goal in a while with Oscar Lindblom scoring on a 3-on-2 rush, getting Philly on the board at least at 6-1.

Nick Bjugstad heads to the penalty box but the Pens kill it off.

Aston-Reese hits a guy cleanly in a battle and Jakub Voracek (who apparently played tonight, who knew!) peed his pants a little and got in his face with a ref in the middle. He’s very tough like that. 4v4 action. Crosby and Guentzel get a 2-on-1 and Sid literally toys with Hart, just pulling put waiting, and passing anyways even though there was no pass.

The Pens’ take another penalty but don’t freeze the puck to end the delayed situation for a good 40 seconds in a half-humorous, half-who-cares event. Pittsburgh kills that off too to go 4/4 on the PK on the evening.

And then in the game’s last minute the Pens try hard for the first time since like the 2nd period, if only to remind Hart and the Flyers that they didn’t steady anything, they were just getting toyed with the entire time. Kahun strikes on a nice pass from Patric Hornqvist with seven seconds left in the definition of “for shits and giggles”. 7-1 final.

Three final thoughts

  • First period breakout. The Pens entered the game as the league’s slowest starters - scoring just four total first period goals in their first 12 games of the season. They doubled that figure up, which obviously goes a long way to ending a game before it really even begins. Now that Pittsburgh is healthier and stronger it will be interesting to see if they can actually score more goals early on in contests instead of just hanging on for dear life.
  • Unlimited Dominik scoring. Probably won’t be hearing any complaints about Dominik’s Kahun or Simon anytime soon. Kahun had two assists in the first period and the last second goal — pretty good considering he came into the game with just three points on the season and doubled that leaving the game. Simon is up to 8 points in his last 9 games (since Oct 13) and 9 points in the last 10, which I believe coincides with his placement on the first line.
  • Who OWWWN da Chiefs Flyers? Crosby with a three-point night records career markers 100, 101 and 102 against Philly all-time, joining an exclusive triple digit club (lead, naturally by Mario Lemieux at 124) for the highest scoring opponents the Flyers have ever seen. Crosby passed Wayne Gretzky for career points vs PHI, and anytime you pass Wayne in a career-long metric that’s a meaningful night!

Bonus point!

  • Seven goals, all from different players, all at even strength. Quite impressive job done by the Pens. Not the greatest goaltending by Elliott, and while Murray didn’t have to be Superman he at least wasn’t letting anything by him while this game had any sort of competitive element to it. 13 different Penguin players recorded a point, and only three (Crosby, Simon Kahun) had multi-point nights. A very spread, even effort.

A very satisfying win for the Pens who send their rivals away soundly defeated. Even better for Pittsburgh is a few days of rest, and probably (hopefully) the return of Evgeni Malkin to bring them back to full and complete strength.