Playing their best game since last Tuesday’s shootout loss to Washington, the Flyers scored four straight goals to top the Pens 5-2 in Pittsburgh tonight.
Ville Leino led the attack with three points scoring two goals in the third period and assisting on another earlier tally. Scott Hartnell had a goal and an assist as Sergei Bobrovsky made 25 saves to give Philly their fourth win of the season against Pittsburgh.
After exchanging powerplay opportunities earlier in the period, Alexei Kovalev opened the scoring on a 2-on-1 opportunity. Taking the puck in from the blue line, Kovalev acted as if he was going to pass it cross ice but instead ripped it blocker side as Bobrovsky stood stone in the crease. Kovalev’s 16th gave Pittsburgh the 1-0 lead 12 minutes and 22 seconds into the game.
Rebounding quickly, for a change as of late, Jeff Carter watched a pinball shot finally cross the goal-line to tie the game at one. As a power-play opportunity wound down, Braydon Coburn boomed a shot from the right point. Carter apparently deflected the puck off the right post, then watched it bounce back to hit Marc-Andre Fleury’s right skate and roll into the net for his 35th goal on the season.
The remaining four minutes and four seconds in the first period saw the Flyers out shoot Pittsburgh 2-0, but they couldn’t register another goal to gain the lead.
The second period saw the Pens gain a 2-1 lead thanks to a soft goal by Bobrovsky. After receiving a pass from Brooks Orpik for a 2-on-1 opportunity, Tyler Kennedy took a wrist shot that somehow snuck its way under Bob’s right pad and across the goal-line for his 19th on the season. Bob’s error was his first shaky moment of the night.
A problem with the Flyers lately has been lack of success on the power play and lack of driving to the net. Both were fulfilled with Scott Hartnell’s power-play goal on Philly’s third man advantage on the night. With Paul Martin in the box for interference, Hartnell drove from the right side of the crease and slammed home the puck between Fleury’s right arm and hip for his 21st on the year.
Forty-seven seconds later, Claude Giroux gave Philly their first lead of the game. After Sean O’Donnell fed him the puck from the left boards a couple strides inside the blue line, Giroux drove to the slot and cut to the right before letting a shot fly over Fleury’s blocker for his 25th goal on the season.
Thanks to that burst, the Flyers headed into the final twenty minutes with a lead and the chance to grab a crucial two points. With victory in sight, Leino answered the call.
At the 5 1/2-minute mark of the third period, Leino was able to redirect a Hartnell shot at the left post past Fleury for his 18th goal on the season and a Flyers’ 4-2 lead.
Just over 3 minutes later, Leino put in his second goal of the period to give the Flyers a three-goal edge. As both Danny Briere and Leino fought for the puck behind the net, Briere eventually passed it to Leino standing just in front of the right post.
Gaining control of the puck after a rebound from his first shot, Leino managed to pop the puck up and over Fleury and over the goal line before Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek swept it out.
Despite giving Pittsburgh three power-play opportunities after scoring their final goal, Philly hung onto their three-goal lead to win 5-2.
The Flyers may have had some lucky bounces tonight, but they’ve managed to outplay Pittsburgh all year long. Winning all three games in Pittsburgh, Philly’s only losses to their cross-state rivals on the year was a 5-1 thumping in the midst of their only three-game losing streak on the year back in mid-October and barely losing in a home shootout 2-1 Thursday.
Being in an offensive drought since their last game against Pittsburgh, both Giroux and Leino stepped up today. Along with two takeaways, Giroux had three shots on net, one of which resulted in the game-winning goal halfway through the second period. Leino, in addition to his two third period goals, also had the primary assist on Hartnell’s power-play goal.
This was a big win for the Flyers as they widened their lead in the division from two points to four. Along with adding on to the divisional lead, the Flyers also gained a point on Washington tonight as the Caps lost in a shootout to Carolina.
Notes: The Flyers win marks the first time since 1983-84 (4-0-0) the club has gone unbeaten and untied during the regular season in the Steel ity…They’ve beaten Pittsburgh four times in the regular season for the first time since 2007-2008….Kovalev’s first period goal was his 33rd regular season goal against the Flyers in his career…Briere recorded his 30th assist on the season on Coburn’s first period goal…Kennedy had four goals in six games against Philly this year…O’Donnell posted his first two-assist game since November 18th against Tampa Bay….The Flyers went 4-1-1 against the Penguins in the 2010-2011 regular season and are now 16-3-2 against the Atlantic division (PIT 4-1-1, NYR 4-1-0, NJD 3-1-1, NYI 5-0-0).