It took four rounds in a shootout for the Penguins to beat the Flyers 2-1. Chris Kunitz handed the Flyers’ their second loss on the season to Pittsburgh and their second straight loss in a shootout.
The Flyers extended their point streak to eight games with tonight’s shootout loss going 4-0-4 since March 6th. The loss drops Philly to 44-19-10 on the season.
The game started with several minutes of chances for both teams resulting in the Flyers receiving the first powerplay of the game. Deryk Engelland was sent to the sin bin for interference just over eight minutes into the game. Despite several scoring chances, the Flyers registered only one shot on net and no goals.
About seven minutes later, Philly was a benefactor of a rather lucky bounce. As James van Riemsdyk protected the puck down the ice along the boards to Marc-Andre Fleury’s right, he centered the puck to Mike Richards in the slot. The puck bounced off of Richards’ stick, off a Pens’ stick, and over Fleury’s glove for Richards’ twenty-first on the year and a 1-0 Flyers’ lead.
A situation that almost gave the Flyers a two-goal lead resulted in a late period penalty on Andreas Nodl. As the puck slid between Ben Lovejoy’s legs and into the offensive zone, Nodl gained control of the puck at the bottom of the circles releasing a quick shot on Fleury. After the Pens’ netminder saved the shot, Lovejoy blocked Nodl into running over Fleury. The referees saw the play as goaltender interference giving the Pens a powerplay with twenty-two seconds left in the first period.
Taking advantage of the suspect call that ended the first period, Tyler Kennedy tied the game at one just a minute into the second period. Kris Letang gained the blue line before passing it left to Kunitz. Fighting off a check from Andrej Meszaros, Kunitz passed it cross ice to Kennedy who ripped home a shot short side on Bob from the face-off dot to Bob’s left.
Five minutes and thirty-four seconds after Kennedy’s goal, Kris Versteeg was able to draw an interference call on Matt Niskanen. The orange and black were unable to register a goal on their second powerplay chance of the night.
Making a number of huge saves throughout the period, Bobrovsky’s biggest save came on a Penguins’ powerplay late in the period. With Claude Giroux sitting in the box for slashing, a rebound to Bob’s left resulted in a wide open net for Alexei Kovalev. Sliding to his left, Bob stacked the pads making the block and covered the puck seconds later to halt play.
The Pens couldn’t capitalize on the man advantage keeping the score tied at one as the rest of the time in the middle period ticked away.
Given their third powerplay of the game, the Flyers had the first chance to take a lead just over three minutes into the third period as Arron Asham went to the box for cross checking. Ending with the same result as the previous two chances, the Flyers couldn’t score on the powerplay keeping the score tied at one with fifteen minutes left in regulation.
The remaining time in regulation saw the Pens hit two posts and several scoring chances for both sides. However, neither team registered the game-winning goal so the Flyers saw extra time for the fourth straight game and fifth time in the last six games.
The Penguins had the best opportunity in overtime with an amazing shift that saw over a minute of pressure and several scoring chances. The shift ended with a Ville Leino takeaway that ultimately led to a Pens’ icing with 38.8 seconds left in overtime. The extra frame ended with about fifteen seconds of offensive pressure from Philly before the game was forced into a shootout.
With the first shot in the shootout, Leino tried five-hole on Fleury but was denied. The Pens sent out Letang who deked out Bobrovsky, but sent the puck high.
Giroux went second for Philly as he too tried the five-hole and was denied. Kovalev was second for Pittsburgh and went backhand-forehand on Bobrovsky before dunking it on a practically open net.
Danny Briere was the third Flyer to try Fleury’s five-hole, but was the first one to score equalizing the shootout at one. James Neal missed his opportunity to win the game sending the shootout into extra frames.
Mike Richards tried going top right, but was stoned by Fleury. Kunitz found Bobrovsky’s five-hole to win the game for Pittsburgh 2-1.
Lack of intensity in the third period and willingness to settle for at least a point cost the Flyers tonight. With their lead dwindling in the conference and several games against playoff-hungry opponents remaining in the schedule, the Flyers need to start looking for the kill in regulation rather than settling for overtime losses.
Bobrovsky’s performance on Tuesday left his team worried about his play under pressure. Tonight, he came out strong making eleven saves in the first including a big left leg pad save on a Tyler Kennedy breakaway. In the second, two big stops on Kovalev kept the game tied at one. Bobrovsky finished the night with thirty saves in the game and one save in the shootout.
Notes: Bobrovsky is now 26-11-6 on the season…He’s 2-1-1 against the Pens this season and 10-9-4 against teams in playoff positions…Bobrovsky had eleven saves on eleven shots in the first period tonight; he was pulled on Tuesday after giving up three goals on nine shots…Nodl had his first minor tonight since the Hurricanes game on February 18th (a hooking call in the second period)…The Flyers haven’t scored a goal in their last thirteen powerplay opportunites; the last Flyers’ power-play goal was Leino’s hat-trick goal against the Thrashers on March 12th…The Flyers are now 3-1-1 against the Penguins on the season and are now 14-3-2 against the Atlantic Division (PIT 3-1-1, NYR 4-1-0, NJD 3-1-1, NYI 4-0-0).