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Aftermath: Flyers 3, Penguins 1

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
  
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QUICK ANALYSIS
 
The Penguins’ impressive winning streak – the team hadn’t lost in regulation in a month (Feb. 22) – had to come to an end at some point. Unfortunately it came at the hands of interstate/division rival Philadelphia at Mellon Arena.

In a battle for the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference standings (and possibly a first-round playoff preview), the Penguins ran into a hot goaltender in Martin Biron, and dropped a 3-1 decision to the Flyers.

Pittsburgh controlled most of the play, outshooting Philadelphia, 28-20, but it couldn’t solve Biron, who made several spectacular saves to frustrate the Penguins and left them shaking their heads.

Special teams was a major factor in the game with Philadelphia’s two power-play goals being the difference in the game.
 
WHAT HAPPENED
 
(AP) – Simon Gagne and Scott Hartnell each scored a power-play goal, and the Philadelphia Flyers beat Pittsburgh 3-1 on Sunday for the Penguins' first loss in a month.

Philadelphia won its second in a row to open a two-point lead over Pittsburgh in the race for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and home-ice advantage in the first round.

Martin Biron made 27 saves, and Darroll Powe added an empty-net goal that Hartnell assisted on for the Flyers, who have three games in hand on the Penguins.
 
PLAYOFF CHASE
 
 
Pos. Team GP Record Pts
4. Philadelphia 71 39-22-10 88
5. Pittsburgh 74 39-27-8 86
6. Carolina 74 39-28-7 85
7. NY Rangers 72 38-26-8 84
8. Montreal 72 36-27-9 81
9. Florida 72 35-27-10 80
10. Buffalo 72 34-30-8 76

                     
Team Notables:
Buffalo: Off-day - Hosts Florida, Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Carolina: Off-day - Plays at Florida, Monday at 7:30 p.m.
Florida: Off-day - Hosts Carolina, Monday at 7:30 p.m.
Montreal: Off-day - Hosts Atlanta, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
NY Rangers: Host Ottawa at 7 p.m.
Philadelphia: Defeated Pittsburgh, 3-1
 
SHOT OF THE NIGHT

A faceoff battle between Pennsylvania's two captains (photo by Getty)
ESSENTIALS
 
What Worked Well: Opportunities
It was a frustrating day for the Penguins. They outshot the Flyers, 28-20, and had Philadelphia out of sync at various points in the game. The Penguins’ work ethic and execution resulted in many scoring chances. If Martin Biron hadn’t played one of his best games of the season, this would have been a different outcome.

What Could Have Gone Better: Penalties
Pittsburgh took eight penalties in the game. The team’s penalty killing did an unbelievable job, particularly killing four straight minutes to open the third period and keep the game close. However, you can only ask them to do so much. The Flyers scored two power-play goals and special teams was the difference in the game.
 
DIFFERENCE MAKER
 
Kris Letang scored the only Penguin goal of the game and he was all over the ice. Letang has really flourished in interim head coach Dan Bylsma’s new system. He’s joining the rush, playing deep on plays and using his speed to create problems for opponents. Letang logged 21:13 minutes of ice time, four shots and three blocked shots to go with his power-play score.
 
SCORING SYNOPSIS
 
The Flyers got on the board first with a power-play score. Mike Knuble took a shot on goal. Marc-Andre Fleury made the save and there was a scrum in front of the net for the loose puck. Simon Gagne collected the puck and threw a wrist shot into the net. Philadelphia 1, Pittsburgh 0.

Philadelphia added to its lead with another man-advantage tally. Jeff Carter skated the puck towards the crease and then threw a cross-crease pass to Scott Hartnell, who was positioned at the side of the net. The puck deflected off of Hartnell’s skate and into the goal. The referees reviewed the play and determined there was no “distinct kicking motion.” Philadelphia 2, Pittsburgh 0.

Pittsburgh broke the shutout bid halfway through the third period with a power-play tally. Sidney Crosby won a battle for the puck in the near corner of the Flyers zone. Crosby skated towards the goal and threw a cross-crease pass to Kris Letang, who one-timed a shot off of Martin Biron’s pad and into the goal. Philadelphia 2, Pittsburgh 1.

The Flyers netted an empty-net score with less than a minute left in the game to seal the victory. Hartnell threw a shot at the net that ricocheted off the backboards. Darroll Powe retrieved the puck and steered it across the goal line. Philadelphia 3, Pittsburgh 1.
 
INTRIGUING NOTABLES
 
The Penguins were killing a penalty when they were caught in an awkward line change. It was during the second period so Pittsburgh had to make the long skate to their bench and Philadelphia pushed the puck quickly up ice. Brooks Orpik hustled to get back into the play to create a three-on-one. Chris Kunitz, trailing the play, dove down the slot to break up the Flyers pass attempt: crisis averted.

Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar started a mini-skirmish at the end of the second period after getting cross checked. Gonchar, normally cool and reserved, retaliated by throwing a few punches. But the referee didn’t see the cross check and slapped Gonchar with a four-minute double-minor roughing penalty. The Penguins successfully killed the lopsided call.
 
GAME NOTES
 
> Pittsburgh dropped its record to 39-27-8 on the year, with a 21-12-3 mark at Mellon Arena, and lost its first regulation game in a month – a 10-1-2 stretch. The Penguins are 3-1-1 on their franchise-long eight-game homestand.

> Pittsburgh is 12-2-3 since Dan Bylsma was named interim head coach.

> Scoring Summary:
PHI, S.Gagne PP (29), 5:19 1st period: Flyers 1, Penguins 0
PHI, S.Hartnell PP (27), 2:54 2nd period: Flyers 2, Penguins 0
PIT, K.Letang PP (8), 10:02 3rd period: Flyers 2, Penguins 1
PHI, D.Powe (5), 19:32 3rd period: Flyers 3, Penguins 1

> Evgeni Malkin tallied an assist against Philadelphia to increase his NHL lead in points to 105 (33G-72A). Malkin’s 72 assists are a league-best and a new single-season career high.

> Malkin has tallied 30-plus goals (33) in three straight seasons and has broken the 100-point barrier (105) for the second consecutive season.

> Sidney Crosby tallied a helper against the Flyers. He is second in the league in scoring with 95 points (28G-67A) and his 67 assists are second most in the league behind teammate Malkin’s 72.

> Crosby has a season-long 13-game scoring streak, tallying 23 points (7G-16A) over that span.

> The Penguins have the top two scorers in the NHL in Malkin (33+72=105) and Crosby (28+67=95). Only twice in the past 20 years have two players from the same team finish 1-2 in the NHL scoring race…and Pittsburgh accomplished the feat both times.

Pittsburgh had the top two scorers in the league was the 1995-96 season when Mario Lemieux (first) and Jaromir Jagr (second) topped the NHL. The team also had that distinction when Lemieux (first) and Kevin Stevens (second) did it in 1991-92.

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 17 saves in the game and lost his first regulation game since Feb. 22, going 9-0-2 in that stretch.

> Kris Letang, who’s already set career highs in goals, assists and points, tallied the lone Penguin goal. He has one goal and three assists (four points) in his past four games.

> Mellon Arena sold out for the 103rd straight game with a standing room only attendance of 17,132. Pittsburgh is 65-29-9 in during that span.
 
THREE STARS QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
   
1. M.Biron, PHI
2. S.Hartnell, PHI
3.K.Letang, PIT
"If we meet them in the playoffs I think the guys will be confident
because of the way we played tonight I think we will be in
good shape."
Marc-Andre Fleury
 

 


Author: Sam Kasan

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