It was hockey night in Pittsburgh as the Penguins welcomed the Philadelphia Flyers to the Steel City for the first time this season. In the previous meeting between the two clubs, the Penguins walked away with two points after taking the game 3 to 1 in Philadelphia. The Flyers were looking to strike back, despite having started the season off in a less-than-stellar fashion. The Broad Street Bullies, however, were riding high following a 7 to 0 whomping of the New York Islanders while the Penguins were riding a three game win streak, having gone 2 and 0 on their weekend road trip.
The Penguins would dominate the first half of the first period, earning two goals in less than three minutes. The first of the game would come courtesy of Matt Niskanen with just over five minutes gone in the period. Picking up the puck following a blocked shot by teammate Kris Letang, Niskanen would blast it through traffic and past Ilya Bryzgalov who would effectively be screened by one Brandon Sutter. Shortly thereafter, Harry Zolnierczyk would be called for a boarding calling against Robert Bortuzzo that would actually see Zolnierczyk start bleeding, sending the Penguins to a power play. This would provide the opportunity for the Penguins to take a 2-0 lead courtesy of a goal by Evgeni Malkin. Malkin would snap a shot from the circle and Bryzgalov would glove it down but there would be uncertainty as to whether or not it grossed the lined before Bryzgalov made the save. A phone call would be made to Toronto and it would be ruled a no goal. Malkin would get it back though. Paul Martin would bank a pass off the backboards to Malkin at the side of the net who would snap a shot off Bryzgalov’s pad and into the net. However, before the period was over, the Flyers would tie it up, the first goal a direct result of a pileup in the crease and the second coming from a snap shot by Wayne Simmonds. The teams would exchange a couple penalties before the first horn.
The second period would be all penalty kills, power plays and goaltending duels. Both teams would push hard and earn a couple quality opportunities. With 1:32 left on the clock in the middle frame, Craig Adams would be called for an elbowing penalty, sending the Flyers to the power play and providing Jakub Voracek with an opportunity to give the Flyers the lead with nine seconds on the clock.
The third period would see a barrage of goals and a parade of people to the penalty box, and the Penguins, ultimately, fall short by a single goal. With just eighteen seconds off the clock, Voracek would earn his second of the night, giving the Flyers a 4 to 2 lead, the result of a scramble in front of the net. Three minutes later, Tyler Kennedy would bring the game to within one, yet again, with his second of the season. A shot courtesy of Martin would bounce off of Kennedy who would, in turn, find it and turn, beating Bryzgalov. Matt Niskanen would score his second of the night – unfortunately on his goal tender, resulting in the Flyers’ fifth goal (being credited to Simmonds.) Tanner Glass would earn four minutes in the box for high sticking but half way through his penalty, Philadelphia’s Mike Knuble would earn his own four minute break for the same call. He would be joined by Ruslan Fedetenko, also called for high-sticking, allowing James Neal the opportunity to score his twelfth of the season to, once again, bring the game within one. With just under six minutes left to go in the game, it appeared as though the Pens had tied it up courtesy of Chris Kunitz. However, upon review it was determined that the goal resulted from a direct kicking motion. No problem. The Pens would earn it back courtesy of Brandon Sutter who would tie the game with less than two minutes left in regulation. The Flyers, however, weren’t willing to go the extra mile, and with a minute and a half left to go in the game, and on a flukey goal, courtesy of Voracek (with the road-win hat-trick) the Flyers would take the game 6 to 5.
Kris Letang led all skaters with 28:20 of ice time, followed by Sidney Crosby with 27:00. Brandon Sutter and Evgeni Malkin each had five shots on goal while Crosby had four. Both goaltenders faced 32 shots a piece. With 22 points, the Penguins sit second in their Division and the Conference.
The Penguins will take to the ice again Friday night when they welcome the Florida Panthers to town. Game time is 7:00pm.