Penguins stay alive by edging Flyers 3-2
Friday, 04.20.2012 / 10:18 PM
Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior WriterPITTSBURGH
-- Marc-Andre Fleury
carried his confidence with him across the state. Jordan Staal
and Tyler Kennedy
brought their hot sticks with them as well.
They were the difference in helping the Penguins stay alive in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Fleury made 24 saves, including seven during a Philadelphia power play midway through the third period. Staal, who had a hat trick in Game 4, scored his League-leading sixth goal of the series and had an assist on Kennedy's game-winner in the second period as Pittsburgh fought off being eliminated for the second time by beating the Flyers 3-2 at Consol Energy Center on Friday night.
The Flyers still lead the series 3-2, but the Penguins have won two in a row heading into Game 6 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Sunday (12 p.m. ET, NBC, TSN).
"It's still do-or-die for us," Staal said. "We're going to go into Philly and hopefully (we'll) do the same thing we did (Friday)."
Fleury, who gave up 20 goals on the first 105 shots he faced in the series, started to steady himself in the second period of Game 4. He gradually got better, and was clearly at his best in the third period on Friday. After facing only 12 shots through the first two periods, Fleury had to be great on a Flyers' power play midway that started 7:37 into the third period.
Fleury made saves on Kimmo Timonen
, Jakub Voracek
, Claude Giroux
, Brayden Schenn
and Jaromir Jagr
before making back-to-back stops on Danny Briere
to preserve Pittsburgh's 3-2 lead.
Philadelphia kept coming even after the Penguins killed off Kennedy's slashing penalty, but Fleury wouldn't let them have anything. The Flyers got off 10 shots on goal in a row in a span of 3 1/2 minutes and 14 shots in total over the final 20; Fleury stopped them all.
"I don't know if it's a scary thing, but Fleury played well (Friday)," said Flyers forward Scott Hartnell
, who scored a 5-on-3 goal in the first period. "It looks like he's getting hot, so it's going to be that much harder (to win Game 6)."
The Flyers are still confident in their ability to close out the series despite losing the last two games and going without an even-strength goal for the last 122:46. Philadelphia has scored five power-play goals in the last two games, but hasn't scored an even-strength goal since Maxime Talbot
's tally 17:14 into the third period of Game 3.
"I thought we generated quite a few even-strength chances," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said of his team's play Friday night. "We couldn't get them past the goaltender."
, who was pulled after giving up five goals on 18 shots in Game 4, was better in Game 5 but still not good enough -- he allowed three goals on 23 shots.
Bryzgalov was beaten cleanly on a one-timer by Steve Sullivan
for a power-play goal in the first period. He was also beaten by Staal on a 2-on-1 at 6:15 of the second period on a play that started with Kris Letang
's stretch pass to Kennedy at the red line on the right-wing boards. Kennedy scored the winner on a blast through traffic just over 3 1/2 minutes after Staal tied the game.
and Pavel Kubina
were in front of Bryzgalov, who nodded in approval when he was asked if he was screened on the shot.
"That boy knows how to shoot," Staal said of Kennedy, who also had two assists in Game 4 and now has three goals and three assists in the series. "He's got a great shot and it was a great, big goal for us."
The Penguins are trying to become just the fourth team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 deficit to win the series. If they want to do it, they may be better off letting the Flyers score first in Game 6 as well -- for the fifth time in as many games in this series the team that scored the first goal lost.
got it Friday, scoring 11:45 into the first period when Fleury couldn't find his wrist shot from the right point through traffic. Sullivan tied the game just over three minutes later, but the Penguins gave Philadelphia a 5-on-3 advantage for 18 seconds starting at 17:25 of the first period.
Hartnell needed only 10 seconds to cash in for his first of the series and the Flyers' 11th power-play goal of the series, tying a franchise record for power-play goals in a single series.
However, the Penguins' maligned penalty-kill unit finally came through late in the second period and again in the third because of Fleury, who stopped the last eight shots he saw in shorthanded situations.
Fleury entered Game 4 with a 6.34 goals-against average and .798 save percentage. He's improved to a 4.70 GAA and .837 save percentage with 46 saves against his last 51 shots.
"He was on and he made some huge (saves); definitely was the difference in the game for us," Sidney Crosby
said of Fleury. "I thought we did a good job in front, but when they did get good, quality chances he made some unbelievable saves. It's at this time of the year when you need those and he came up big for us."
The Flyers liked their first period and obviously felt good about the scoring chances and 14 shots on goal they generated over the final 12-plus minutes of the third period. But they were kicking themselves over the way they played in the second.
Talbot said there was a breakdown defensively that led to Staal scoring off the 2-on-1. Hartnell was beside himself that nobody blocked Kennedy's shot that wound up being the game-winner.
"Those things have to be blocked," he said. "We've got to realize that and get on that."
They'll have another chance on Sunday -- but now they know the Penguins are coming, Staal and Kennedy are hot, and Fleury is confident.
"Our team was good and Marc-Andre was at his best," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "And, that's the way it's going to be for Game 6 as well."
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