Home Pittsburgh Sports College Basketball Flyers score four unanswered to rout Pens 5-2

Flyers score four unanswered to rout Pens 5-2

Ville Leino scored twice in the third period, and the Philadelphia Flyers rallied to score four unanswered goals, dominating the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 on Tuesday night to stay atop the Eastern Conference.

Pittsburgh 2 – Philadelphia 5

The Penguins surrendered two one-goal leads and lost their chance to tie the Flyers for the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference lead in a dismal 5-2 home loss to Philadelphia. Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux scored 47 seconds apart in the second period to morph a 2-1 Penguins lead into a 3-2 Flyers advantage in a game that had plenty of momentum shifts, odd bounces, missed opportunities, and was far too wide-open for the Penguins’ liking. Ville Leino scored twice in the third period to secure the Philadelphia win. Alex Kovalev and Tyler Kennedy scored for the Penguins. While both teams have already secured a playoff spot, Pittsburgh’s only chance to finish higher than fourth in the Conference is by besting the Flyers for the Atlantic Division title. This seems unlikely to happen now, with the Flyers winning the last game of the season series, a crucial four-point contest.

“We worked so hard to put ourselves in this position,” Pittsburgh forward James Neal said when asked about how frustrating this loss was considering how the Penguins have battled lately for playoff positioning. “We kind of came out flat in that second period. Things kind of got away from us there.”

Neal sustained a nasty cut on his lip from a Flyers’ stick in the second period. The referees did not call a high sticking penalty, which should have put the Penguins on a four-minute power play.

In his post-game press conference, Penguins’ Head Coach Dan Bylsma admitted to being unhappy with the game’s officiating. He cited the interference call on Paul Martin, which led to the Flyers’ second goal.

Despite a blatantly missed or perhaps bogus call, Bylsma did not place any real blame on the referees.

“We let (the Flyers) off the hook,” Bylsma said. “We turned the game into a little more free-wheeling than we needed to be. We allowed it to get into a little bit of a skill game, which they have plenty of. (I’m) just disappointed that that’s the kind of game it turned into and we weren’t able to put the hammer down and play a certain way to protect the lead when we had it in the second.”

He also did not fault goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who the Penguins are hoping will be a finalist for the Hart Trophy this year. Fleury struggled with strange bounces and a few instances of poor defensive play in front of him.

“A couple of those (goals) are not ones that Marc has anything to do with,” Bylsma said. “They’re going wide of the net and end up either behind him or bouncing behind him. Certainly Marc was not an issue in the game tonight.”

Though Alexei Kovalev put the Pens on the board first, Jordan Staal had an early chance short-handed when Flyers forward Claude Giroux fumbled the puck at the blue line on Philadelphia’s first power play of the game. Staal used his strength and long reach to muscle around Giroux for a breakaway, but was thwarted by Flyers’ goalie Sergei Bobrovsky at the other end of the ice. Kovalev’s goal at 12:22 of the first period came off of a 2-on-1 with James Neal. Kovalev chose to shoot on the odd-man break, sending a low wrist shot past Bobrovsky’s blocker. Jeff Carter tied the score and brought the Flyers back to life with a fluky goal at 15:56 of the first period, just as a holding penalty against Matt Niskanen expired. Carter tipped Braydon Coburn’s shot from above the right circle, directing it to the post behind Fleury. The puck ricocheted off of the pipe before bouncing off of Fleury’s skate and into the net.

“I guess a couple of times (the puck) just bounced everywhere and ended up in the net,” Fleury said. “It’s tough, especially against a team like (the Flyers), that we’re fighting for the first spot.”

Tyler Kennedy netted his 19th goal of the season after he opted to shoot on a 2-on-1 opportunity with Chris Kunitz. Kennedy’s shot from the right circle sneaked under Bobrovsky’s pad to give the Pens a 2-1 advantage.

The biggest missed opportunity of the night came when Kennedy had a chance to score his second goal of the game, which would have put the Penguins up by two in the second period. Kennedy came flying down the left wing, and seemed to have Bobrovsky beat, but chose to hold on to the puck instead.

“I was hoping that the goalie would have come out farther,” Kennedy said. “But he was kind of back in his net. I should have shot. Instead I tried to toe drag around him too, which was not the best play. Now I know for next time.”

Instead, Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux scored to give the Flyers a 3-2 advantage with 5:28 left in the second period. Hartnell crashed the crease on the power play for his tying goal, while an uncovered Giroux scored as he skated through the slot.

Leino’s two third-period goals capped off the scoring and put the Penguins down by three with 11:22 remaining in regulation. The Pens fired 14 shots in the third period, one more than they had in the first two frames combined, but could not break Bobrovsky, who has won three games at the Consol this year.

Pittsburgh will have to put this heartbreaker behind them as they travel to Tampa Thursday to face the Lightning, a team that now seems likely to be their first-round opponent.

“It’s a game…to make a statement with how it’s going to be if we do see each other in the playoffs,” Bylsma said.

Three Stars
1. (PHI) Ville Leino; 2. (PHI) Scott Harnell; 3. (PHI) Daniel Briere

Score Sheet
Goals:
PIT- Alex Kovalev (16), Tyler Kennedy (19); PHI- Jeff Carter (35), Scott Hartnell (21), Claude Giroux (25), Ville Leino (18, 19)
Assists: PIT- Kris Letang (41), Mark Letestu (13), Brooks Orpik (12), Chris Kunitz (24); PHI- Braydon Coburn (14), Matt Carle (36), Ville Leino (33), Kimmo Timonen (29), Sean O’Donnell (14, 15), Andrej Meszaros (21), Scott Hartnell (24), Daniel Briere (30, 31)

In the Net:
PIT: Marc-Andre Fleury (L) 19-24
PHI: Sergei Bobrovsky (W) 25-27
 
Special Teams:
PIT: 0-4
PHI: 1-4
 

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