The cross-state rival Penguins defeated the Flyers 2-1 with two powerplay goals Sunday, snapping their three-game winning streak.
BY JAY BOEHMER, Staff Writer
This early afternoon, nationally televised contest opened up with each team exchanging scoring chances, though the Flyers seemed to be getting the better of it. Sidney Crosby received a slashing minor, allowing Jeff Carter to net the first goal after tipping the puck in off goalie Brent Johnson’s pads with 14:42 left in the first. Later that period, captain Mike Richards put the puck in the net after Johnson fell out of position chasing Flyer Claude Giroux. However, a questionable high-sticking call on Simon Gagne, that head coach Peter Laviolette later disputed, caused the goal to be disallowed and give the Penguins a power play. Later, a point-shot by Sergei Gonchar was tipped past Flyers goalie Ray Emery with 5:27 left to play to tie the game at one.
The Penguins took that late first period goal and carried the momentum through the intermission and into the second, having the better of the play through the period. Having been outshot 10–5 going into the second period, the Penguins turned it around, with the shot totals being 16–15 in favor of Pittsburgh going into the third.
The Flyers showed signs of life again in the third, getting more quality scoring chances than their Pennsylvania counterparts. However, their efforts came undone when defenseman Kimmo Timonen cleared a puck over the glass for a delay of game minor. The Penguins cashed in on another Sergei Gonchar shot with 1:47 left in the game, this time tipped in for the goal by Matt Cooke. With a 2-1 lead so late in the game, the Penguins were able to hold off the Flyers last second attempts a take home a win.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Jeff Carter: Carter put in the Flyers only goal to continue his scoring success. He now has 6 goals and 8 points in his last 5 games.
Ray Emery: Emery made all the saves he could see (as well as some he couldn’t), stopping 20 of 22 shots to hold his team in the game until the final minutes.
Sergei Gonchar: Veteran Penguins defenseman had two powerful blasts from the point during Pittsburgh power plays that led to an assist of a tip-in by Matt Cooke as well as a goal of his own.
Special Teams: The Flyers received nine power plays during the course of this game yet only managed to cash in with one goal. The Penguins, on the other hand, were given only five extra man chances and managed two power play goals. This discrepancy is clearly the difference today.
Francois St. Laurent: This referee made one of the most questionable, and obviously game-changing calls of the game when he took Gagne for high sticking and roughing as well as Malkin for roughing as the two got tangled up during a play in which Mike Richards was able to score. The penalties, called after the fact, resulted in the goal being disallowed and the Penguins receiving a power play that led to a game-tying goal.
The Flyers had the game in their hands, with the Penguins taking some undisciplined penalties, and could have buried them. Unfortunately, they responded in kind and were rewarded with their share of penalties. A shooting war like this is not the approach you want to have when playing a team with as much talent as the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it showed when the final score rang out 2-1.
Had the Flyers been able to take advantage of the chances they were given while remaining as disciplined as they have been recently under the far more strict Laviolette, they very well could have pulled out a win. But instead it was the Flyers’ mistakes and a questionable overturning of a goal that spelled doom for this team.
Despite the loss, the Flyers remain tied for 6th place in the Eastern Conference. Their record on the current home stand is now 3-1 with two games left to play before going back on the road to start the month of February.