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Ill-timed penalties doom Flyers again

Saturday, 04.18.2009 / 1:18 AM / 2009 Playoffs Conference Quarterfinals

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- The Flyers came out and played a disciplined, strong hockey game.

Until they didn't, and the penalty problem that has plagued them all season bit them again.

The Flyers got a break when Hal Gill was sent off for cross-checking at 15:26 of overtime, but halfway though the Flyers' man-advantage, Mike Knuble was whistled for the same offense when he knocked down the Penguins' Brooks Orpik. And then 30 seconds later, Claude Giroux was whistled for slashing when he shattered Chris Kunitz's stick, giving the Penguins a rare five-on-three playoff overtime power play. The Penguins capitalized when Bill Guerin scored at 18:29 -- there were 27 seconds left in the two-man advantage.

Flyers coach John Stevens spent the previous 48 hours telling his players, the press and anyone else who would listen that his team had to play smarter, had to play more disciplined.

And they did -- for about 55 minutes. Until that point, the Flyers had committed just two penalties. Then with 4:04 left in the third and the Flyers leading 2-1, Jeff Carter was called for hooking down Jordan Staal, and the Penguins tied the game with a power-play goal.

Then came the back-to-back calls on Knuble and Giroux, and the Penguins again took advantage, and packed a 2-0 series lead with them for the trip to Philadelphia.

A leopard can't change its stripes, and the team that spent more minutes per game in the penalty box than any team in the League was at it again at the worst possible time.

"(Knuble) was fighting for position in front of the net," said Stevens. "Mike's a big guy at the net; a guy goes down and he gets a penalty. The one on Giroux is the one I'd rather not see. There's no danger in that play, so certainly I would like to see him not do that."

But he did it, and much like the Flyers did in Game 1, they put themselves in a hole of their own making.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com.

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