The Penguins and Flyers are bitter rivals for many reasons.
And Scott Hartnell’s goal with just 0.9 seconds left in overtime to give Philadelphia a 3-2 win at Wells Fargo Center on Sunday is surely near the top of that list from Pittsburgh’s perspective.
“With 0.9 seconds left, for them to get a goal was tough,” goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
The Flyers ended the Penguins’ win streak at 11 games, which stands as the NHL’s longest this season. This is the second year in a row Philadelphia has played the role of spoiler, as they halted Pittsburgh’s 12-game winning streak in the 2010-11 campaign.
Despite the loss, the Penguins are technically unbeaten through their last 12 with the overtime loss. And they still came away with a point to climb within just one point of the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers for first place in the Atlantic Division.
The Penguins finished their tough three-game divisional road trip that also visited the Rangers and the Devils with five out of six possible points.
“It’s a tough trip. It’s three good teams,” defenseman Kris Letang
said. “We got five points out of six. A lot of battle out there.”
The Penguins dominated the first 40 minutes of play, taking a 2-0 lead into the third period with goals from Craig Adams
and Evgeni Malkin
Pittsburgh played some impressively stingy defense throughout the first two periods, especially in the second. They held the Flyers, who entered the game with the league’s top ranked offense, to just two shots in the middle frame. The first one didn’t get recorded until just 4:48 minutes remained in the period.
But the Flyers regrouped at the second intermission and came out flying, getting on the board just 31 seconds into the third period on Kimmo Timonen’s power-play tally. That goal set Philadelphia’s comeback into motion.
“Regardless of where the game was played and what the shots were at that point in time, it turned into a one-goal game at that point,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “I think that spurred them on in the third period and they got some good shifts after that, hemmed us in a little bit. It became more of a 50-50 game.”
Hartnell scored his first of the game at the 4:47 mark from a sharp angle before he’d go on to cap the Flyers’ comeback in the extra period.
Hartnell was involved in much of the extracurricular activity that always seems to occur when these two teams meet and that took an ugly turn with about five minutes left in regulation, and the Penguins weren’t pleased about it.
“We played really well for two periods, then kind of got involved in all of that stuff after the whistle which kind of fed into them and gave them energy,” defenseman Brooks Orpik
said. “The pace was great that we were playing with. Then that stuff after the whistle just slows down the pace. That’s what they want. We fed right into it. It’s something we’ll just address moving forward."
Fleury finished with 24 saves while Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov made 38 stops in the win.
Despite playing three games in four days, the Penguins won’t get much of a rest as they’ll host the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.
“Now we’re going to play a team that’s fighting for their playoff lives,” Bylsma said. “They’re talking about playoff hockey. They played one against Washington and now for them, every one is going to be that way. That’s what the next game is for us. We know we’re playing a team that could very well possibly be the eighth seed and that we could be seeing them again in the playoffs as well.”
Pittsburgh saw its NHL season-high 11-game win streak end on Sunday in Philadelphia.
Through the 11 games of the streak the Penguins outscored its opponents 43-17 in regulation. They averaged 3.91 goals per game and allowed just 1.52 per contest (17GA/670MIN). Evgeni Malkin
was Pittsburgh’s leading scorer in the 11 games with eight goals, eight assists and 16 points. He was one of six players averaging at least a point per game during the streak – Jordan Staal
, 13 points (3G-10A); Pascal Dupuis
, 11 points (7G-4A); Steve Sullivan
, 11 points (4G-7A); James Neal
, 11 points (2G-9A) and Sidney Crosby
, 5 points (5A) in two games.
Malkin (8 goals), Dupuis (7 goals), Matt Cooke
(5 goals) and Chris Kunitz
(5 goals) were Pittsburgh’s leading goal scorers.
Defenseman Kris Letang
recorded two helpers in Sunday’s game, both primary assists on each of the Penguins’ goals.
But it wasn’t necessarily his offensive capabilities that shined the brightest this afternoon.
Letang made one of the game’s prettiest plays in the first period when he put his impressive skating ability on display to turn a Flyers 2-on-0 rush into a 2-on-1.
Once back in position, Letang made a perfectly-executed sliding block on Flyers rookie Sean Couturier to keep Philadelphia from getting a shorthanded score that surely would have turned the momentum early.
Letang is prized for his skating and his skill, but what perhaps doesn’t get enough credit in his game is his physicality.
He put that on display on Sunday as well, most notably in the second period when he crushed the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Jaromir Jagr by the boards in the neutral zone. When Zac Rinaldo and Hartnell came to challenge Letang about it, the Penguins defenseman stood his own and knocked them both to the ground.
Letang finished the game with six shots and three hits through 24:12 of ice time.
Author: Michelle Crechiolo