The Pittsburgh Penguins faltered early in Game 4 on Thursday and lost 4-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers, despite a late rally fueled by Jordan Staal. The Flyers, facing elimination in front of the home crowd, came out strong in the first period and capitalized on 2 powerplays in the 1st period to gain the early advantage. The Penguins turned up the heat in the 2nd and 3rd periods, drawing to within 1-goal in the final minutes of the game, but were unable to get the equalizer. The intensity and snarl of this game finally lived up to what I had expected, but not yet seen, in this series between the Flyers and Penguins. The loss is just the 2nd of the post-season for the Penguins, who will have another opportunity to put the Flyers away in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
In the 1st period, the Flyers came out buzzing and outshot the Penguins 17-13. The Flyers got on the board first at 8:27 as Joffrey Lupul put a shot on net that beat Marc-Andre Fleury after deflecting off from Hal Gill’s stick. Scott Hartnell and Ryan Parent picked up the assists on the play. Then at 11:48 with Sergei Gonchar in the box for holding, Daniel Briere backhanded a rebound past Fleury as the final seconds ticked off on the powerplay. Randy Jones and Scott Hartnell chipped in for the assists. Then again at 18:50, with Brooks Orpik in the box for roughing, the Flyers got another powerplay goal from Jeff Carter. Assists were awarded to R.J. Umberger and Ryan Carter. The Flyers powerplay finally got back on track as they connected on 2-of-3 powerplay opportunities in the 1st. The Penguins were 0-for-1 on their man-advantage.
In the 2nd period, the Penguins outshot the Flyers 12-9, but were unable to really pressure Martin Biron from close in. Marc-Andre Fleury also sealed off the net as the period skated to a 0-0 draw on the scorecard. The Penguins were 0-for-1 on the powerplay and successfully killed off 1 penalty.
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In the 3rd period, the Penguins continued to pressure the Flyers as they had a 13-8 advantage in shots. The Penguins finally got on the board at 3:16 when Jordan Staal chipped away at the puck at the side of the net and managed to bounce it in off Biron to make it 3-1. Tyler Kennedy and Max Talbot picked up the assists on Staal’s 4th goal of the post-season. Then at 14:11, the energy line of Staal, Kennedy and Talbot struck again as Jordan Staal picked up his 5th. With Tyler Kennedy working the puck along the boards, Jordan Staal moved into the open ice where he took the feed and beat Biron with a quick release. Max Taolbot and Tyler Kennedy were again credited with the assists. Staal’s 2nd goal of the night quieted down the capacity crowd at the Wachovia Center as the spectre of a comeback loomed large in their minds. But with the clock winding down and Fleury pulled for the extra attacker, Joffrey Lupul managed to thread a shot that found the empty net and prevented the Penguins from stealing the game in the end. In the final seconds of the game, things got real chippy as both teams tried to send messages in advance of Sunday’s rematch in Pittsburgh. Ryan Malone and Derian Hatcher exchanged punches for matching majors, and Sidney Crosby and Mike Richards were each assessed double minors for slashing and roughing.
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NHL OFFICIAL: Play-by-Play
It should be a spirited game on Sunday afternoon as the Penguins try to finish off these Flyers once again in Game 5 at Mellon Arena. The Penguins will need to play a more disciplined game than they did in Game 4 to dispatch these Flyers who will be playing with a renewed confidence.