The Penguins were expecting a desperate Flyers team on Saturday.
They got exactly that, but they didn’t have an answer for it.
The Flyers, who are fighting for their playoff lives with just a month left in the season, absolutely dominated the Pens in a 4-0 win on Saturday at Wells Fargo Center – the first game of a home-and-home series between the bitter rivals.
Philly got off to a hot start in front of the home crowd when Scott Hartnell scored a power-play goal just 3:50 into the game. Matt Read followed that up minutes later by scoring on a shorthanded breakaway (the first of two goals for the winger), and the Flyers never looked back.
“They did a lot of what we expected,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “Hard forechecking team, they did that right off the hop. They're good at the power play, we gave them that opportunity and they cashed in on it to get a lead and a shorthanded goal against. Those are the two goals in the first period. I think we expected them to come hard like that with their forecheck early in the game and they did. We just didn't handle it. We weren't able to handle it. In all aspects of the game, we weren't good.”
Goaltender Steve Mason recorded the shutout for the Flyers. Down at the other end Marc-Andre Fleury did everything he could to try and keep his team in the game, but they didn’t give him a lot of help. He faced 40 shots as the Pens gave up way too many odd-man rushes to the Flyers, who just completely outworked them in every facet of the game.
The one positive is that the Pens have a chance to redeem themselves in less than 24 hours at home.
“They were better than us all over the ice,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “They were more aggressive throughout the game winning battles and things like that. No excuse for that. We have to make sure we bounce back tomorrow.”
“Definitely after a loss you want to get right back at it, so it's definitely a good opportunity,” defenseman Brooks Orpik added. “We'll see if we can make the most of it.”
NO KUNITZ, NEAL
When Bylsma addressed the media a couple of hours before puck drop, he said that forward Jayson Megna, who was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League late Friday afternoon, would only be used in an emergency situation. That ended up being the case.
Forward Chris Kunitz was a late scratch for the contest and missed the game with a lower-body injury. He is currently listed as day-to-day, per Bylsma.
While on a semi-breakaway early in the third period of Pittsburgh’s 2-0 over Washington on Tuesday, Kunitz was knocked over by Caps defenseman Mike Green on his way to the net and slammed his legs off the goalpost. Despite being in obvious pain, Kunitz was eventually able to skate the bench. He missed just one shift while talking to head athletic trainer Chris Stewart and returned to play the rest of the period. However, he missed practice Thursday and while he skated Friday, Bylsma cautioned Saturday’s lineup would be a game-time decision.
“He took warmups, wasn't able to go in the game,” Bylsma said. “Possibility (to play Sunday).”
With James Neal out indefinitely with a concussion, that means the Pens were without two of their top-six wingers against Philly in addition to the guys that have been out – including Pascal Dupuis, Kris Letang and Paul Martin. But the Pens aren’t using injuries to justify today’s poor effort.
“(Injuries are) something we've been dealing with all year and we've found ways,” Crosby said. “So I think we have to look at that and understand that's something we have to continue to do. Now's definitely not the time to make excuses for that. We didn't throughout the year and we're not going to start now. I don't think it makes it any easier, so we have to understand that and make sure we're that much better.”
Author: Michelle Crechiolo