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Aftermath: Penguins 4, Flyers 1

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Photos: Pens vs. Bruins

Video: Game Highlights
Blog: Pens vs. Bruins Game Blog
The Penguins brushed off a poor start to piece together a strong performance against cross-state rival Philadelphia. After falling behind 1-0 in the first minute of the game, the Penguins asserted themselves. Pittsburgh was in control for the remainder of the contest, and slowly built a 4-1 advantage. With the way the Penguins were playing, the outcome was never in doubt.

Without the services of Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar, Pittsburgh stepped up with contributions from Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis, Matt Cooke and Ruslan Fedotenko (all scoring goals).

And in an important side note, with the victory the Penguins have officially clinched a berth in the NHL’s postseason – something they didn’t secure last season until the third to last game.
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Sidney Crosby set up three goals, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury played a strong game after allowing an early soft goal and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the rival Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Saturday, the final regular season game in Mellon Arena between the longtime rivals.

The Penguins celebrate Chris Kunitz's first-period goal
(photo by Getty)
What Went Well: Shaking off Early Setback
The Penguins did not get the start they wanted when Philadelphia scored a fluky goal just one minute after the puck dropped. Marc-Andre Fleury brushed aside that unfortunate play and responded with a strong performance for the remaining 59 minutes. That goal was his only blemish as he turned aside 26 shots, including a breakaway by Claude Giroux.

What Could Have Gone Better: The Start
Pittsburgh was on its heals in the opening minutes of the game following a fluky goal from Philadelphia. The Flyers gained momentum from their score and carried the play in the first 7-10 minutes of the game. The Penguins started asserting themselves after that and took control, running away with a victory.
Sidney Crosby put his world-class talents on display against the Flyers, something he has done throughout his career when Philadelphia comes calling. He posted three assists and was brilliant stickhandling the puck one-on-one against helpless Flyers defenders. Crosby created numerous scoring chances and finished with a game-high six shots.
The Flyers got on the board first just one minute into the contest on a fluky play. Arron Asham had the puck skating down the far side. He flipped the puck towards the net. The puck bounced, changed trajectory and eluded goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Philadelphia 1, Pittsburgh 0.

The Penguins tied the game with 57.6 seconds left in the first period just after a power play expired. Jordan Leopold unleashed a shot from the above the far circle. Netminder Johan Backlund, making his NHL debut, kicked out the rebound to Chris Kunitz. The Penguins winger settled the puck and snapped a shot into the goal. Pittsburgh 1, Philadelphia 1.

The Penguins took the lead six minutes into the second period. The play started in the Pittsburgh zone with a great touch, re-direction pass from Alexei Ponikarovsky to spring Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis for a two-on-two. Crosby carried into the offensive zone, deked into the high slot and put a shot on goal. Dupuis drove to the net, picked up the rebound and lifted a backhand shot into the twine. Pittsburgh 2, Philadelphia 1.

Pittsburgh increased its lead 7:32 into the third period. Matt Cooke won a puck battle in the offensive zone to start the play. Crosby made a pass from below the goal line to Cooke. His shot was blocked, and the puck popped into the air. Cooke slid undetected to the opposite side the crease. Ruslan Fedotenko found the bouncing puck and slid a backdoor pass to Cooke, who easily pushed it over the goal line. Pittsburgh 3, Philadelphia 1.

Pittsburgh buried its fourth goal of the game with a man-advantage score. Crosby had the puck in the near corner and flipped a pass to Fedotenko in the slot. Fedotenko’s first shot was stopped by Brian Boucher, but the Ukraine native tossed the rebound into the top corner. Pittsburgh 4, Philadelphia 1.
The Flyers thought they had taken a 2-1 lead early in the second period. Philadelphia had the puck in the offensive zone. Ville Leino knocked over Marc-Andre Fleury, and Simon Gagne easily slid the puck into the vacant net. But the referees correctly waived off the goal due to the incidental contact.

Penguins fans rejoiced when Mike Rupp delivered a heavy blow to Flyers forward Scott Hartnell, smacking him into the glass and to the ice. Hartnell then tried to get up, but his stick broke and he fell back to the ice, much to the joy of the Penguins faithful.

Pittsburgh played the game without the services of Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar. Malkin has missed five of the team’s last six games with a foot injury, while Gonchar has missed two games with an illness.
> Scoring Summary:
PHI, A.Asham (8), 1:02 1st period: Flyers 1, Penguins 0
PIT, C.Kunitz (13), 19:02 1st period: Penguins 1, Flyers 1
PIT, P.Dupuis (18), 6:03 2nd period: Penguins 2, Flyers 1
PIT, M.Cooke (14), 7:32 3rd period: Penguins 3, Flyers 1
PIT, R.Fedotenko PP (11), 14:31 3rd period: Penguins 4, Flyers 1

> Pittsburgh improves to 43-25-7 on the season for 93 points, with a 22-10-4 mark at Mellon Arena. The Penguins have officially clinched the postseason and momentarily take a two-point lead over New Jersey in the Atlantic Division, pending the outcome of the Devils’ contest at Montreal tonight.

> The Penguins won the season series against Philadelphia by a 5-1 mark, including a 2-1 record at home. In the past three seasons, the Penguins are 20-8 against the Flyers (28-11 including playoffs).

> Pittsburgh is 7-3-3 since the Olympic break.

> The game marked the first of the final six-game homestand in the history of Mellon Arnea.

> The Penguins have killed 30 straight penalties, and 38 of the last 40 shorthanded situations (95.0 percent).

> All-time under head coach Dan Bylsma the Penguins are 61-28-11; 32-11-5 at home; 37-3-3 when leading after two periods; and 37-1-1 when scoring four or more goals.

> Sidney Crosby posted three assists, and now has 56 points (24G-32A) in 32 career games against Philadelphia. He has points in 20 of his last 25 games for a total of 35 (15G-20A).

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves to earn his 34th win of the season. He also picked up his first assist of the season and seventh of his career.

> Ruslan Fedotenko notched a goal and an assist.

> Pascal Dupuis scored his 18th goal of the season and is two shy of the 20-goal mark.

> Chris Kunitz has four goals and nine points in his last 12 games.
1. S.Crosby
2. R.Fedotenko
“We need to establish ourselves in these eight games … That’s what we did tonight and look to do it again tomorrow.”
- Mike Rupp


Author: Sam Kasan

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