PHILADELPHIA – If you believe in statement games, then the Flyers just provided a full blown dissertation.
In possibly the most complete performance of the season, the Flyers saw the first place Pittsburgh Penguins on the other end of the ice and simply took it to them full throttle.
Matt Read scored twice, Scott Hartnell broke the ice with a power play tally and Vinny Lecavalier scored on a breakaway while Steve Mason made 25 saves as the Flyers shut down the Penguins 4-0 at Wells Fargo Center.
It was the first time the Flyers shut out the Penguins since April 6, 2008 and the first time they shut them out in a game in which Sidney Crosby played. (Crosby was held out of that 2008 game as the Penguins were preparing for the playoffs. The Flyers clinched a playoff berth that night).
It was a huge win for the Flyers (34-25-7, 75 points) who leapfrogged the Columbus Blue Jackets back into third place in the Metropolitan Division and one point behind the second place New York Rangers with two games in hand.
The Flyers stormed out of the gate and capitalized on their first power play chance. Claude Giroux, who had a fine game with two assists, fed Hartnell for a one-timer that surprised Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury over his left shoulder for 1-0.
Matt Read made it 2-0 with an equally impressive snipe while shorthanded, taking a pass from Sean Couturier, who was in full beast mode in this game with a pair of assists, brilliant penalty killing and rendering the NHL’s leading scorer Sidney Crosby irrelevant in the contest.
The goal that really separated the Flyers from the Pens though came on a fine heads up play by Luke Schenn, who saw Vinny Lecavalier changing late off the Flyers bench and hit him in stride behind the Penguins defense with a perfect blue line-to-blue line pass.
Lecavalier took it from there and made a nifty move to beat Fleury and make it 3-0 at the 14-minute mark of the second period.
But, the goal of the game came on an odd man rush that saw a series of sensational passes from Couturier to Giroux back to Couturier to Read for a pretty goal with 17 seconds left in the second period.
All that was left was to put the icing on the cake and lock down the shutout for Mason in the third period. He wasn’t tested often, but when he was Mason was equal to the task, notching his fourth shutout of the season and the 23rd of his NHL career.
The two teams will meet again Sunday in Pittsburgh, but before you get to that we’ll have more on this win in a little bit. Check back for highlights, locker room interviews and more post game analysis.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers