Tyler J. Altemose
What a wild night in Pittsburgh.
The Philadelphia Flyers (4-4-1) took on the Pittsburgh Penguins (5-4-1) last night at the Consol Energy Arena. It was their third contest of the season and the second at home for the Penguins. It was also a special night for many of the players as the team held its annual “Father/Son Trip”. Many of the players’ fathers (and some other family members) were in attendance last night.
Flyers captain Mike Richards took matters into his own hands just six seconds after the puck dropped, scrapping with Penguins’ agitator Matt Cooke. If you recall, Richards had a few choice words for the media regarding Cooke after the Penguins defeated the Flyers 5-1 on October 16.
“No, no. I mean, just probably from the things that were said last game carried over and (I was) just trying to get the guys going I guess,” the Flyers’ captain told the media when asked whether he planned to fight Cooke.
Richards was asked how he felt about getting his hands on Cooke.
“Yeah, I don't know. I'm not going to say anything tonight. It's after a win. I'm going to keep my mouth shut," he said while trying to hold back a smile.
Not to be outdone, Flyers enforcer Jody Shelley scrapped with Penguins defenseman Deryk Engellend less than 20 seconds later.
Then things got out of hand.
At 1:29 into the first period, Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell went to the penalty box for respective tripping and roughing penalties, giving the Penguins a full two man advantage.
20 seconds later, Mike Comrie went to the sin bin on an interference call, reducing the two man advantage to a 4 on 3 for the Penguins. 25 seconds after that, Chris Kunitz got called for a slashing penalty, reducing the contest to a rarely seen 3 on 3.
Braydon Coburn then got called for a tripping penalty on Penguins captain Sidney Crosby 20 seconds later. However, per league rules, Coburn had to stay on the ice until someone came out of the penalty box.
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Not only were the penalty boxes standing room only, but there was also a waiting list to get inside. Within the first 2:35 of playing time the Penguins and Flyers combined for an astronomical 36 PIM.
When Hartnell and Briere came out of the box, Coburn went in. Since two men came out and only one went in, it in effect gave the Flyers a 4 on 3. Comrie was next in line to be sent free, turning the game into a 4 on 4.
Paul Martin then entered the sin bin on a hooking call, once again giving the Flyers the 4 on 3 advantage.
Kunitz was then released, once again evening the play. When Coburn was set free, it gave the Flyers a 5 on 4. Finally, 5:59 into the first period, Paul Martin left the penalty box, once again evening strength.
If that’s confusing for you (and I’m sure it is because it was for me), just check out this chart. It makes things look much simpler (I think).
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Two minutes after the penalty melee, Chris Letang set up shop on the right side of the Flyers net. He received a cross-ice pass from the blue line from Evgeni Malkin and easily beat Flyers net minder Sergei Bobrovsky, allowing the Penguins to draw first blood.
Pittsburgh controlled the tempo for the remainder of the first period. Their defense shut down the Flyers, and the frustrated boys in orange and black weren’t able to get into any sort of rhythm.
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The second period marked a turning point for the Flyers, and it was all thanks to special teams.
It started when Mike Richards stole the puck at the blue line during a Penguins PP. He broke through the defense but was stopped in the left side of Penguins zone. However, he managed to get the puck to Claude Giroux who was flying up center ice. Giroux took the puck and easily beat Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, evening the score at one goal apiece.
“Richie had a nice play. It was all him,” Giroux told the media after the game. “He sees the ice pretty well. I'm not too sure he saw me but it was right on my tape and I was able to beat him [Fleury].”
Mike Richards was asked about the success he and Giroux have been having on the PK.
“We have good chemistry. We played together for a while. We know where each other are on the ice, we read off each other well, and Chief [Craig Berube] gives us full range of doing what we want out there. When you have that, to create a lot of things and catch a lot of people complacent on the power play, we seem to connect a lot.”
The Flyers later turned up several chances while on the PK. Clearly the Flyers captain had set the tone of the game more than once.
At 13:34 of the second period, beloved Flyers agitator Dan Carcillo (in for Nikolay Zherdev) tipped in a shot from Flyers defenseman Matt Carle from the point, putting the Flyers ahead 2-1.
“I wanted to get Danny back in there because we're on the road in Pittsburgh and they've got some tough players in their lineup,” head coach Peter Laviolette explained to the media. “Danny brings a physical element―body checking, forechecking― in the way he plays the game.
Where the first period was marked by the Penguins’ seeming ability to outskate the Flyers, the tables were turned for the second period with the Flyers dominating play both on even strength and on special teams.
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The Flyers continued to control play throughout the third period. The Penguins looked frustrated, flat, and were clearly being outhustled by their cross-state rivals.
The Penguins’ turmoil was marked by a too many men on the ice penalty halfway into the period. The Flyers quickly converted on the PP. A scrum ensued in the slot in front of Fleury. The Penguins’ net minder was flat on his stomach, scrambling to find and cover up the puck. However, it escaped him and wound up in front of Claude Giroux who lifted it up over Fleury. He netted his second of the night and put the Flyers up 3-1.
The Flyers maintained control of the game until the last minute when the Penguins made things interesting. Fleury left the net, giving the Pens an additional skater. Tyler Kennedy then scored with 45 seconds remaining after receiving a cross-ice pass from Sidney Crosby, cutting the Penguins deficit to one. However, Bobrovsky (who had 26 saves on 28 shots) and the Flyers defense allowed the Flyers to hold on and secure the win.
The Philadelphia Flyers now sit atop the Atlantic division and are third place in the Eastern conference. They take on the New York Islanders tonight at 7:00pm.
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Stars of the Game:
1. Mike Richards
2. Claude Giroux
3. Sergei Bobrovsky