Penguins Find Something to Build On

The Pittsburgh Penguins put an end to the Philadelphia Flyers 8-game home winning streak, but more importantly found something to build upon in notably well-coached and well-executed 4-2 win over their cross-state rivals.  Despite giving up an early goal on a botched play by Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins quickly regained their composure and put up 4-straight goals to gain the 3-goal advantage going into the 3rd period.  The Penguins then hung on, giving up just 1-goal in the 3rd despite being outshot 14-4.  Pittsburgh played a disciplined game, giving the Flyers just 1 man-advantage on the night.  While the Penguins powerplay went 0-for-4, three of the chances came late in the 3rd and prevented the Flyers from getting back into the game.  The game featured a new look as Matt Cooke was moved to play on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, a combination that appeared to work very well.  The Penguins also reverted to a trapping style of defensive play that stifled the Flyers offensive game. 

In the 1st period, the Flyers got on the board first at 7:36 as Mike Knuble made Marc-Andre Fleury pay for a bad bounce from behind the net.  Simon Gagne and Kimmo Timonen picked up the assists on the play to make it 1-0.  At 9:44, Eric Godard lined up with Riley Cote in a brief, one-sided dance that Cote lost before it even started.  At 16:47, the Penguins tied the game at 1-1 as Tyler Kennedy collected a pass that ultimately came from Paul Bissonnette from along the boards and backhanded the puck past Martin Biron.  Max Talbot picked up an assist, along with Bissonnette’s first of the season.  Bissonnette punctuated the play by squaring off with Arron Asham after the next faceoff, and again the Penguins held the upper hand in the fight.  The Penguins outshot the Flyers 11-7 in the 1st, and were 1-for-1 on their only penalty kill of the game.

In the 2nd period, the Penguins got moving quickly as Evgeni Malkin posted his 17th goal of the season on a blistering shot off from a beautiful pass from Sidney Crosby that caught the corner of the net.  Crosby had the lone assist on the play to make it 2-1.  Then at 12:25, Jordan Staal notched his 14th goal of the season on a nifty backhander that beat Biron high side as he skated into the zone protecting the puck from the Flyers defense.  Miroslav Satan and Kris Letang picked up the assists.  The goal was Staal’s 3rd in as many games, leaving me to believe he could hit a scoring spell now that he is no longer encumbered with contract distractions.  Then, with just 26-seconds left in the period, Matt Cooke drove the net and chipped in a puck thrown to the front of the net by Sidney Crosby.  It was a well-deserved goal by Cooke, who played a gritty, determined game all evening.  Sidney Crosby and Brooks Orpik picked up the assists.  The Penguins outshot the Flyers 11-8 in the period, and were 0-for-1 on the powerplay.

In the final period, the Penguins played to protect their 3-goal lead by not getting too aggressive against the Flyers, particularly on the powerplay.  The Flyers got a goal at 8:07 as Joffrey Lupul wristed a shot past Fleury to make it 4-2.  Scott Hartnell and Jeff Carter picked up the assists.  While the goal could have spelled trouble for the Penguins, they buckled down and got good goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury through the rest of the game.  The Penguins were ultimately outshot 14-4 in the 3rd, and were 0-for-3 on the powerplay, including a brief 5-on-3.  The Penguins failed to score on the empty net at the end of the period, and skated away with a well-earned 4-2 win on the Flyer’s turf. 

Sidney Crosby led the team with 2-points (2A), while Evgeni Malkin (1G), Matt Cooke (1G), Jordan Staal (1G), Tyler Kennedy (1G), Paul Bissonnette (1A), Max Talbot (1A), Brooks Orpik (1A), Kris Letang (1A) and Miroslav Satan (1A) all had 1-point.  The Penguins were out-hit 23-17, with Matt Cooke and Brooks Orpik each having 4-hits, and Max Talbot having 3.  The Penguins won 52% of their faceoffs with Jordan Staal going 14/23 for 61%.  Tyler Kennedy led the team with 4-shots on net, while Jordan Staal, Matt Cooke and Petr Sykora each having 3.  Kris Letang led all Penguins with 25:34 of ice time and Jordan Staal led all forwards with 21:18.  Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27-0f-29 shots on net for a 0.931 save percentage.  Mark Eaton, Pascal Dupuis and Philippe Boucher were all scratches for the game. 

The Penguins will look to perform an encore on Wednesday night as they play host to the Washington Capitals at Mellon Arena.  The Capitals will also be playing their second night of back-to-back games after losing to Edmonton 5-2 on Tuesaday night.

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