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Recap: Pens beat Flyers 7-3 on strength of Sidney Crosby’s two goal night

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Pittsburgh/Philly for a final time in 2020-21

NHL: MAY 04 Penguins at Flyers Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Pregame

The Penguins use the same playing lineup as last night, with Tristan Jarry starting tonight. Casey DeSmith, who left the game last night is not serving as the backup, it’s Maxime Lagace on the bench.

First period

Just 1:44 in, the Pens get a much better start. The third line has a good shift and Jared McCann hits Marcus Pettersson all alone in front. Marcus Petterson?? Yep. He’s able to deke to his backhand and slide it past Brian Elliott to give Pittsburgh a quick and early 1-0 lead.

Back and forth game, the Pens get the first power play and start their second group because the big boys were winded from a shift and the JV unit plays the first 1:30 after some zone time but are unable to do much with it and the time ticks away.

Shots end up 11-7 in favor of Pittsburgh in the first.

Second period

Fireworks strike early in the second, former Flyer Mark Friedman cleans Joel Farabee out with a clean but big open ice hit and that rankles his old mates. Jakub Voracek breaks his stick over Friedman with a cross-check and then Farabee gets up and challenges Friedman to a short but spirited fight. The Pens get a power play out of the deal thanks to the Voracek extra minor.

And the Pens cash in. Remember last night with the bad luck? Some good tidings here, Kris Letang breaks his stick on a shot but the puck still gets to the front a bit off-speed. Jake Guentzel is able to track it and he kinda whiffs on his shot but it slips past Brian Elliott who sprawls back but can’t stop the puck from gliding over the line. 2-0 Pens.

5:44 into the action-filled period, Crosby is at his Flyer-killing ways again, redirecting offensive dynamo Marcus Pettersson’s shot/pass into the net. 3-0 Pittsburgh.

The Flyers are able to strike back, though. Justin Braun overloads the Pittsburgh defense in front of the net and finds a loose puck and fires it in past Jarry to make it a 3-1 game.

Crosby and Travis Konecny get tangled up and Konecny tries to put Crosby in a triangle choke or something, which the captain breaks free of and doesn’t take too kindly to, returning the favor with some physicality. Both get minors and nothing comes on the 4v4.

McCann gets taken down when he has the puck and retaliates by getting up and tripping a player who doesn’t have a puck and you can’t do that. Philadelphia gets their first power play of the evening. Jeff Carter gets the best chance in the sequence on a short-handed breakaway but Elliott stones him.

The Flyers make a more competitive contest out of it late when a puck deflects off Carter and in past Jarry. Bum luck! 3-2 Pens.

Philly takes the slight edge in second period shots 13-12. Oh and Bryan Rust apparently didn’t play the second half of the second because Konecny’s MMA career against Crosby wasn’t enough, he had to add in a slewfoot behind the play.

Third period

Luckily Rust is back for the start of the third period.

The Flyers make a mistake, courtesy of the forechecking pressure applied by Kasperi Kapanen. Kapanen picks off a passing attempt and then thefts a puck away from Claude Giroux. Evgeni Malkin takes over from there and hits a wide open Jason Zucker in front of the net with a pass. Zucker makes no mistakes going to his forehand and shoveling the puck up and past Elliott. 4-2 Pens for a very important tally to give more breathing room.

But the Flyers take that room away quickly and claw back towards the goal. Konecny centers the puck from the wall and it bounces off Jarry then John Marino’s skate and angles into the net. 4-3 with still almost half the period to go.

Pittsburgh bounces back again, and it’s who else but Crosby to fire a shot to the top corner of the net and extend the lead back to two goals. 5-3 now after this wicked rip, courtesy a quick pass from Rust.

The Flyers pull the goalie with a super-high 4:30 left, but down two and out of the playoffs they’re still gonna send it. It doesn’t work and Friedman is in the clear away for an easy goal. Well, aside from Nolan Patrick slashing at him and Shayne Gotisbehere dumping him after the puck was in the net. The Philadelphia Flyers: showing compassion and respect that they are famous for all the way to the end. 6-3 Pens.

The Pens put out Crosby and Malkin for the power play for the Gotisbehere penalty, and folks, you gotta love it. If they’re gonna goon it up, you gotta bury them on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh does play with 2D to be a little cautious but even that pays off as Crosby makes a nice pass to Marino who fires a puck into the net from a sharp angle. 7-3.

Pens win and move into first place, at least for the night. The Flyers move a game closer to the golf course. The natural order of things.

Some thoughts

  • Nice night for Pettersson to get only his second goal of the season, he’s often pinching in and hanging around in the offensive zone, almost a surprise he doesn’t get more of them by accident.
  • Similarly the late goal was only Marino’s third of the season. Hasn’t been a banner offensive season for him, but nice to see him crank one in late.
  • Sweet game for Jarry on Game No. 100 on the night. They go quick, don’t they? On the other end, it was Elliott’s 500th career game. Here’s to 500 more for him (as long as the Pens never acquire him)! The Flyers made a pretty strong push in the 2nd and early part of the 3rd periods and Jarry was at his best. Two of the goals against were fluke bounces off his own players, otherwise Philly couldn’t get much by him.
  • Evgeni Malkin almost made the highlight reel for the wrong reason on the power play. The puck went the other way, and credit to Malkin he was actually getting back in time to cover the second man on the rush. But then…he just let Sean Couturier go to the net, Malkin apparently just figuring he would block the centering pass. That didn’t work and Couturier got a great chance in front of the net and Jarry had to make a really nice save. A few seconds later, the puck was in the other net and Malkin got credited with an assist. All’s well that ends well.
  • Friedman didn’t have much of a choice since he made a hit and was challenged, but boy, for a guy literally just coming off a concussion the idea to drop the gloves and get punched in the head doesn’t seem very wise….Especially on a clean hit. That’s hockey culture for ya, Friedman certainly had to feel like he owed Farabee a bout, but it really shouldn’t be that way. What can ya do.
  • Also, you kinda wonder what’s up between Friedman and the Flyers? Is Gotisbehere just frustrated at the end of the long season? Fearful of another trip to the waiver wire? Upset about Friedman’s clean hit that he fought for and should have wiped his slate clean? Friedman took a ton of abuse in the four games he played against his ex-teammates, maybe just a natural happenstance, but overall seems a bit weird that they went far out of their way to beat him up so much over the course of the season.
  • 2 goals by Sid against the Flyers....Just feels so right, doesn’t it?
  • The top two lines tonight were just great...Philly makes it a 3-2 game and Kapanen-Malkin-Zucker strike to extend the lead...The Flyers get a fluke goal to make it 4-3 and soon after it’s Guentzel-Rust-Crosby to re-assert the lead and basically seal the deal.
  • I did like the Flyers pulling the goalie early. Analytics and theory says when a team is losing by 2+ goals, they should pull the goalie MUCH earlier than is conventional wisdom for NHL teams. You’re probably not going to dig out of the hole at 5v5, might as well go risky to see if momentum can shift. It didn’t work, and the Flyers had nothing to lose anyways, but it will be interesting to see if that kind of theory expands further into the game at the NHL level.

The Pens have two more home games, on Thursday and Saturday against Buffalo and then they’ll have a nice little break. Good to get out of Philly with the W tonight, and best of all, not have to see those jokes for the rest of the season.