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Aftermath: Penguins 5, Flyers 4

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
  
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QUICK ANALYSIS
 
The Penguins won an intense (and at times bizarre) road game against the rival Flyers in Philadelphia. The players have all bought into Dan Bylsma’s aggressive system and the new method is paying off. Pittsburgh is 2-0-1 since Bylsma’s arrival and the team appears to be rejuvenated.

The Penguins played an up-tempo, fast-paced style from the moment the puck dropped until the final whistle. Pittsburgh came out of the gate with its guns blazing, dictating the game against Philadelphia and it deserved to win. The Flyers kept clawing back, evaporating deficits of 3-1 and 4-3. But the Penguins’ perseverance paid off for the second straight game as Pittsburgh delivered a knockout blow late in the third period.

The Penguins are playing with confidence and building some momentum. The team will board a train heading towards Washington. Pittsburgh will face another tough test against the Capitals in D.C. on Sunday afternoon. It's another opportunity to climb back into the playoff mix. The win pulled Pittsburgh within one point of the eighth seed.
 
WHAT HAPPENED
 
(AP) - Sidney Crosby had two goals and two assists to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to their first road win in nearly six weeks, 5-4 over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

The Penguins squandered a two-goal lead in the third period for the second straight game and rebounded to win both of them.

Crosby got a gift goal with 2:45 left when Flyers goalie Martin Biron failed to secure the puck when he drifted out toward the hash marks to make a stop. Crosby was there when the puck came loose and he poked it into the empty net for his 23rd goal and 23rd career two-goal game.
 
PLAYOFF CHASE
 
Pos. Team              GP   Record    Pts
4.     Philadelphia   57   31-17-9    71
5.     NY Rangers    59   31-22-6    68
6.     Montreal          59   30-22-7    67
7.     Florida             58   29-21-8    66
8.     Buffalo             59   30-23-6    66
9.     Carolina          60   30-25-5    65
10.   Pittsburgh      60   29-25-6    64

Team Notables:
Philadelphia: Lost to Pittsburgh, 5-4
NY Rangers: Play at Buffalo at 7 p.m.
Montreal: Hosts Ottawa at 3 p.m.
Florida: Hosts Boston at 7 p.m.
Buffalo: Hosts NY Rangers at 7 p.m.
Carolina: Day off – hosts Colorado Sunday at 3 p.m.
Pittsburgh: Defeated Philadelphia, 5-4
 
SHOT OF THE NIGHT

There was no love lost between the Flyers and Penguins on Saturday (photo by Getty)
ESSENTIALS
 
What Worked Well: Penalty Kill
The Penguins penalty killing unit was the unsung heroe of the day. Dan Bylsma takes a hands-on approach with his PK units and made some adjustments to their positioning. The technique is working. Evgeni Malkin was assessed back-to-back minor penalties, giving the Flyers four consecutive minutes with the man-advantage in the final five minutes of the second period. The Penguins shut down the Flyers, holding them to only two shots and preserving a two-goal lead. After taking a 4-3 lead, the Penguins killed another crucial penalty. The Flyers’ power play went 0 for 4 on the day.

What Could Have Gone Better: Stick Composition
The Penguins were the victims of two broken stick goals. Philadelphia trailed 3-2 when Hal Gill broke his stick. Sykora handed off his stick to Gill and was unable to pressure the puck to get it out of the zone - resulting in Braydon Coburn’s score. The Flyers tied the game at 4-4 late in the third when Gonchar broke his stick in the Penguins zone. Pittsburgh suffered some unlucky breaks but manage to overcome that and record the victory. 
 
DIFFERENCE MAKER
 
Ruslan Fedotenko played his best game as a Penguin. He scored two goals and added an assist for a three-point game against the Philadelphia Flyers, his former team. The Ukraine native buried critical goals while also compiling a plus-3 rating, three shots and over 17 minutes of ice time. I guess his broken hand is OK.

Honorable Mention: Sidney Crosby collected four points in the game on two goals and two assists. Crosby also had a plus-3 rating, four shots and won 65 percent of his faceoffs. This could have easily gone to Crosby but I wanted to give Fedotenko some recognition.
 
SCORING SYNOPSIS
 
Philadelphia struck first in the game on Joffrey Lupul’s 17th goal of the season. Scott Hartnell sent a bad angle shot on net from the near corner. Marc-Andre Fleury made the save but the puck fluttered into the slot. Lupul managed to pick up the puck and send a backhand shot short side past Fleury. Philadelphia 1, Pittsburgh 0.

Sidney Crosby tied the game just 21 seconds into the second period. Ruslan Fedotenko entered the zone and dropped the puck to Crosby. The Penguins captain used Fedotenko and Philadelphia’s Ryan Parent for a screen and whipped a wrist shot over the glove of Martin Biron. Pittsburgh 1, Philadelphia 1.

The Penguins power play converted a score to give them the lead. Sergei Gonchar had the puck at the midpoint and unleashed a wicked slap shot towards the net. Evgeni Malkin was positioned to the side of the crease. The Russian native re-directed the puck into the goal for his 27th of the year. Pittsburgh 2, Philadelphia 1.

Crosby made a great play in the defensive zone that led to Pittsburgh’s third goal of the second period. Flyers captain Mike Richards had the puck along the halfwall in the Penguins zone. Crosby stole the puck and Pittsburgh had a three-on-two the other way. Crosby sent a pass a little behind Pascal Dupuis at the blue line. Dupuis made a great play to reach back for the puck and remain on side. Richards was able to get back for Philadelphia but he pursued Dupuis and left Fedotenko trailing all alone above the circles. Dupuis made a great pass and Fedotenko buried a one-timer. Pittsburgh 3, Philadelphia 1.

Philadelphia came into the game with 15 shorthanded goals, the most in the NHL. After the game, they’ll have 16. Mike Richards tallied a “shorty” three minutes into the third period to cut into the Penguins lead. Ryan Whitney had the puck at the far point and tried to dish it to Gonchar on the near point. Richards jumped into the passing lane to intercept the puck and had a breakaway. He deked and went backhand, sending the puck between the legs of Fleury. Pittsburgh 3, Philadelphia 2.

Philadelphia took advantage of Hal Gill’s broken stick to tie the game. Sykora gave Gill his stick. Sykora was helpless against Matt Carle when the Flyers bluelienr had the puck at the near point. Carle was able to be patient and sent a pass to Braydon Coburn at the far point. Coburn lit up a shot that sailed behind Fleury. Pittsburgh 3, Philadelphia 3.

Dupuis’ hustle helped the Penguins reclaim the lead. Pittsburgh dumped the puck into the zone and Dupuis beat everyone to it behind the Flyers net. Crosby collected the puck at the goal line and made a beautiful no-look, backhand pass between two Flyers and right to Fedotenko atop the crease. The former Flyer nailed a one-timer for his second goal against his old club. Pittsburgh 4, Philadelphia 3.

Another broken stick led to a Philadelphia goal. Simon Gagne lost a faceoff in the Penguins zone. But Gonchar’s stick broke as he went to play the puck. Thus, Gagne was able to collect the puck behind the goal line. Gagne hit Richards in the far circle and Richards sent a cross-ice feed to Mike Knuble, who buried the tying score. Pittsburgh 4, Philadelphia 4.

The Penguins retook the lead on a bizarre goal. Ryan Whitney made a brilliant breakout pass from his own zone to Dupuis, who split between two Flyers and was trying to get to the puck for a breakaway. Biron jumped out on the play and dove on the puck above the circles. Realizing that he would be assets a delay-of-game penalty, Biron dropped the puck back into the play. Dupuis alertly threw the puck towards the vacant goal. Crosby pool cued the puck into the cage from one knee. Eight ball, corner pocket, Penguins win. Pittsburgh 5, Philadelphia 4.
 
INTRIGUING NOTABLES
The Penguins opened the game with a flurry. Pittsburgh generated a ton of scoring chances early. They were skating hard, hitting and opened the game with the intensity of a playoff game. Their fast-paced start also led to a five-on-three opportunity. Flyers goaltender Martin Biron was able to keep Pittsburgh off the board and his team eventually scored the game’s first goal. However, the Penguins continued to take the play to Philadelphia the rest of the game and came out victorious.

Pittsburgh’s power play has looked much improved since Sergei Gonchar returned for the team. The biggest adjustment made by the Penguins is the alignment. Pittsburgh is using Petr Sykora and Evgeni Malkin in front of the crease. Both players are taking a beating there but they are also being rewarded, as Malkin was with a re-direction man-advantage score against the Flyers.

The Penguins line of Pascal Dupuis-Sidney Crosby-Ruslan Fedotenko had a monster games. The trio combined for 10 shots, four goals, six assists and 10 points.
 
GAME NOTES
 
> Pittsburgh improved to 29-25-6 on the year, with a 13-13-4 mark on the road. The Penguins are 2-0-1 in their last three games, picking up five of a possible six points.

> PHI, J.Lupul (17), 10:31 1st period: Flyers 1, Penguins 0.
PIT, S.Crosby (22), 0:21 2nd period: Penguins 1, Flyers 1.
PIT, E.Malkin PP (27), 7:14 2nd period: Penguins 2, Flyers 1.
PIT, R.Fedotenko (12), 12:09 2nd period: Penguins 3, Flyers 1.
PHI, M.Richards SH (23), 3:07 3rd period: Penguins 3, Flyers 2.
PHI, B.Coburn (7), 6:37 3rd period: Penguins 3, Flyers 3.
PIT, R.Fedotenko (13), 9:50 3rd period: Penguins 4, Flyers 3.
PHI, M.Knuble (21), 14:25 3rd period: Penguins 4, Flyers 4.
PIT, S.Crosby (23), 17:15 3rd period: Penguins 5, Flyers 4.

> Evgeni Malkin tallied a goal and assist against the Flyers to extend his NHL lead in points to 86 (27G-59A). Malkin’s 59 assists are a league best and ties his single-season career high. In his last 20 games, Malkin has collected 12 goals and 14 assists for 26 points. Malkin has notched a point in 15 of his last 18 games.

> Sidney Crosby notched two goals and two assist for four points against Philadelphia. He is second in the league in scoring with 78 points (23G-55A) and his 55 assists are second most in the league behind teammate Malkin’s 59. Crosby’s second assist was the 250th of his career. In his last 19 games, Crosby has posted eight goals and 20 assists for 28 points in that span.

> Ruslan Fedotenko tallied two goals and an assist for a three-point game. In his past two games. Fedotenko has five points (2G-3A). His last three-point game was Jan. 11, 2008 at Calgary (1G-2A).

> Pascal Dupuis tallied three assists against the Flyers, his second three-point game this season (hat trick Dec. 11 vs. NY Islanders).

> The Penguins will ride a train from Philadelphia to Washington for their matchup against the Capitals on Sunday afternoon.
 
THREE STARS QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
   
1. S.Crosby, PIT
2. R.Fedotenko, PIT
3. M.Richards, PHI
“It’s definitely a rivalry. There was some physical play
and some talking between the teams. This one
didn’t disappoint the fans for sure and we’ll
take the two (points).”
- Dan Bylsma told FSN Pittsburgh
 

 


Author: Sam Kasan

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