Life is good for Marc-Andre Fleury. When you’re backstopping two thirds of the NHL’s ad campaign, you can do no wrong. It started out as an ugly afternoon for him, letting an Arron Asham pass bounce over his pad to give the Flyers an early lead, but the boys in black and white bailed him out.
Johan Backlund, in for the struggling Brian Boucher for the first NHL game of his career, showed some promise early on, making a handful of strong saves. The Penguins tried to test him early, throwing everything at the net, with most of it getting blocked or going wide. He gave up a single goal in the first period, and went into the second tied 1-1.
Less than five minutes in, it appeared Simon Gagne had given his team the lead after ramming home his own rebound. However, the refs ruled otherwise after Ville Leino was bumped into Fleury, who made the most of the opportunity to sell his case, and the goal was disallowed after the refs watched it again on the arena’s replay.
Fleury also drew a penalty call on a similar play earlier in the game. Normally, goalies aren’t given these calls when they come several feet out of their crease, but Fleury had no trouble drawing them. There was even a point in the game when Claude Giroux found himself wide open in front, one on one with Fleury, and Fleury threw his stick as he lost control of the poke check. This is normally an automatic penalty, but went unnoticed.
Moments later, Sidney Crosby fired a shot on Backlund and Pascal Dupuis put the rebound in on the backhand for his own 2-1 lead.
Brian Boucher started the third and final period, as Johan Backlund left the game with an undisclosed “lower body injury”. That makes it three Flyers goalies that have gone down injured this season.
As if to add insult to injury (literally and figuratively), Matt Cooke held Ryan Parent’s stick under his arm while Blair Betts went down on a cross check in front of the goal to make for a wide open chance as Matt Cooke put one past Boucher for a 3-1 lead.
When it seemed like the frustration had finally ended, Scott Hartnell came together with Sidney Crosby, was knocked over on the play, yet somehow was given a penalty of his own. Seven seconds in, Crosby fed Ruslan Fedotenko in front for his third assist and his team’s fourth goal of the day.
Five straight losses (with one coming in overtime) have forced the Flyers out of their 5th place spot and all the way down to 8th, only four points ahead of the Atlanta Thrashers. They have another important contest at home tomorrow against the New Jersey Devils.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Marc-Andre Fleury: Only 25 years old, but already the veteran of two Stanley Cup Final appearances, Fleury knows how to do his job, and he did that today against the Flyers. He recovered from an embarrassing play that led to the Flyers’ first and only goal, and then managed to get the Flyers sent to the box, have one of their goals taken away, all the while stopping 26 of 27 shots and even picking up an assist of his own.
Scott Hartnell: Hartnell’s hard, net-crashing play often has him taking trips to the box, but he’s done well to keep that in check as of late. Unfortunately he still wasn’t able to show up on the scoreboard in a 4-1 loss.
Sidney Crosby: Notoriously unable to perform in games without partner Evgeni Malkin, Crosby picked up assists on three of his team’s four goals.