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Endgame: Flyers 2, Penguins 1

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

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Pregame: Pascal Dupuis
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Scouting Report: Philadelphia Flyers

The Penguins lost their third straight game on Wednesday at CONSOL Energy Center, a 2-1 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Brayden Schenn had both goals and Ray Emery made 30 saves to frustrate the Penguins, who have just three goals in those three losses – all coming on the power play. Pittsburgh scored its last even-strength tally in its last win, a 3-0 blanking of Columbus on Nov. 2.

The Pens felt like they deserved better with the way they played in this game, especially in the first period – where they completely outplayed their opponent, created a plethora of scoring chances and outshot the Flyers 16-8. But they know that’s not enough.

“Just because you do have a good start doesn't guarantee anything, whether you score or don't score. You have to execute throughout the entire game,” captain Sidney Crosby said, who scored a second-period power-play goal. “Would it be nice to get rewarded? Absolutely, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way. I think we have deserved better with the starts we have had, but are we accepting it? No. I don't think we are accepting the fact that we are missing and we are just kind of saying we deserve better, it'll eventually happen. We have to execute and that is up to us but, that part is a big part of it.”

Judging by the first shift of the game, the Flyers looked like they were going to be in for a long night.

Just seconds after the opening faceoff, Crosby found the puck at his own blue line and carried it through the neutral zone with speed. He easily skirted around Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn like he was a pylon and drove to the net alone. Emery allowed a long rebound on his shot, which Chris Kunitz picked up and backhanded right back into the Flyers goalie. Emery then let off another rebound that deflected off a crashing Kunitz’s skate and into the back of the net to the delighted roar of the CONSOL Energy Center crowd.

The joy didn’t last long, as the play had to be reviewed. And after a long wait, it was determined there was a kicking motion on the play and the goal was disallowed.

“I was just trying to get my legs on it,” Kunitz said. “I'm not necessarily trying to kick it in the net. It hit off one foot and off the other. It goes hard into the net. Obviously they're going to look at it. It works both says. It would be nice if it counts, but if it doesn't I have to go out there and work harder to get one.”

The Pens didn’t look discouraged, as they continued to attack with speed and force the Flyers, who played last night in Ottawa, back on their heels. They made crisp passes, executed plays, supported each other and kept possession as a result. Pittsburgh kept putting pucks at a shaky Emery and made him work, building a
6-0 advantage in shots within the first four minutes and ending the period with a hefty edge. What they didn’t end the period with, however, was a lead.

“You like the start, the opportunities,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “We had three scoring chances in the first 20 seconds of the game. You have one behind the goaltender, but I don't think it took away from how we played, especially in that first period. We did have 16 shots. There were opportunities to get goals. We just weren't able to cash in on some of those pucks in the crease.”

Despite outplaying the Flyers for the majority of the first period, the Pens were down 1-0 entering the second. And not only were they playing from behind, they weren’t executing as well and the Flyers finally seemed to find their legs. That resulted in a much more even flow, with the first few minutes flying by at a much more back-and-forth pace.

But the crispness returned when the Pens got a power play and scored a big one on their second opportunity of the game 8:29 minutes in. Evgeni Malkin used his incredible vision to sail a perfect pass across the slot directly onto Crosby’s blade,who tapped it in from the side of the net for his first goal in eight games.

The captain followed that up a few minutes later with a glorious breakaway chance that Emery was able to save. After that, the game began to feel more like a typical hate-filled blood feud between the teams (the first 30 minutes were relatively tame by their standards).

It all began when Claude Giroux sold a slashing call on Pascal Dupuis, who wasn’t happy with the referees’ decision as it gave the Flyers 21 seconds of 5-on-3 time with Deryk Engelland already in the box. Then Robert Bortuzzo and Scott Hartnell got in each others’ faces as the refs were figuring out Dupuis’ penalty, and that earned them coincidentals.

The Pens, who entered tonight having gone a season-high five straight games without allowing a power-play goal, were able to negate the 5-on-3 – capped by a tremendous sliding block by Craig Adams. But they weren’t able to kill off Dupuis’ penalty, as Schenn buried his second with just 1:20 left in the period to give Philadelphia a 2-1 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Author: Michelle Crechiolo
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