Today’s game may have not meant much in the standings, but the Flyers could have done two things in their 4-2 road loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins: remain perfect at the CONSOL Energy Center and keep Evgeni Malkin from reaching the 50-goal mark. Philly failed to do either, as Brayden Schenn and Jaromir Jagr tallied in the loss that dropped the Flyers’ record to 47-26-9 for the 2011-2012 regular season.
“Wasn’t a good game, no question about it from both sides,” Jagr said. “You might have to face them seven times the next two weeks.
The loss, as well as Malkin’s 50th goal, doesn’t mean anything to the Flyers in the postseason, but it is something that could have added to their confidence and momentum to start the playoffs on Wednesday.
Sidney Crosby had the game-winning goal in the second period, while Brent Johnson earned the win with five saves over the final 28 minutes despite the fact Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 14 shots in the game’s first 32 minutes.
Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 19 of 23 in the loss, as he and the rest of the Flyers dropped to 5-1-0 at the CONSOL Energy Center since it opened last season.
Heading into the tilt, there was much discussion as to how both teams would handle their final contest of the regular season. Many speculated a violent afternoon, as the Pens called up tough guy Steve MacIntyre and the fact Philly wanted to retaliate against Joe Vitale. However, after a scrap in the first period that featured Vitale and a questionable hit by Zac Rinaldo minutes later, the game was a lot less intense than anticipated.
To start the game, Harry Zolnierczyk tried to make Vitale pay for his actions from Sunday’s game with a bout in the first 20 minutes. Unfortunately, Vitale dominated Z in the fight, as the Pens’ forward landed several punches before Zolnierczyk hit the ice.
Minutes later, Pascal Dupuis extended his point streak to 17 games with his 25th goal of the season. After Arron Asham worked the puck free in the corner, he moved it to the top of the circle with a diving poke check. Skating from the blue line to the top of the circle where the loose puck was located, Dupuis slapped the biscuit past Bobrovsky.
Shortly after the halfway point of the first period, Rinaldo earned a five-minute major and game misconduct for his check from behind on Zbynek Michalek. A situation that should have led to another Penguins’ goal wound up giving Philly momentum, as the Orange and Black killed off the major before they eventually earned their first power play of the game.
Brook Orpiks’ hooking minor on Jagr may have not produced a power-play goal for Philly, but Schenn potted the game-tying mark seconds after the teams returned to full strength. A Braydon Coburn shot from the point hit a wall of bodies in front of the net and landed in the slot. Grabbing the loose puck, Schenn ripped home his 12th of the season past Fleury’s blocker with 53 seconds left in the opening stanza to tie the contest at one.
In the second period, Pittsburgh added three goals to their total, while the Flyers improved their score to two.
To break the 1-1 tie, a Chris Kunitz shot from the bottom of the circle squeaked through Bobrovsky’s legs and over the goal line for his 26th of the year. After he received a pass from Malkin, Kunitz let go of a wrister just below the faceoff dot. It seemed as though Bob made the save until the puck trickled between the netminder’s legs and just over the goal line at the 7:15 mark of the middle stanza.
Minutes later, the Flyers tied the game at two thanks to a strike from Jagr. With Orpik in the box for hooking again, and the fact Johnson was brought into the game 54 seconds before, Jagr completed a wrap-around attempt for his 19th goal of the 2011-2012 campaign.
The contest was tied at two goals apiece for exactly five minutes when Crosby potted a power-play tally for his eighth of the year. Bobrovsky flopped on the ice for several seconds, as he denied several scoring chances before Crosby picked up a loose puck just outside the crease. Thanks to the ample time he had to handle the biscuit, Crosby moved it from his forehand to his backhand before he put home his eighth of the season off of Bob’s glove.
In the final minute, the Pens made it a 4-2 game with a tally from their other, “whining star.” A Kris Letang drop pass led to Malkin’s wrister from the slot through traffic that beat Bobrovsky for his 50th goal of the 2011-2012 season.
The final stanza produced no goals for either team, as the Penguins’ grabbed a 4-2 win for their second victory of the year against the Flyers.
Although they lost tonight, Peter Laviolette talked about their successful season.
“There’s a lot of good things that happened. When you finish fifth or sixth overall in the league, that’s a successful regular season,” said Laviolette.
“That being said, we’ll wake up tomorrow and it’s go time. That’s what it’s all about.”
Notes: Claude Giroux was out of the line-up with a cold. James Neal and Steve Sullivan missed the game for Pitt…After they went 4-1-1 against them last season, the Flyers have won the season series against the Pens for two straight years going 8-3-1 overall in the process…Today was Rinaldo’s fifth game of the season where he recorded at least 15 PIMs. It was the first time he earned a major penalty for something else other than fighting and it was also his first game misconduct of the season…Malkin will finish as the only player with 100 points and one of two (Steven Stamkos) players to record 50 goals this season…Crosby’s game-winner was his first against the Flyers c…Today was Johnson’s first win against the Flyers since October 16, 2010…The Flyers dropped to 4-2-0 against the Penguins and to 11-11-2 against the Atlantic Division for the 2011-2012 regular season (NYR 0-6-0, PIT 4-2-0, NJD 3-2-1, NYI 4-1-1)…The Flyers dropped to 47-26-9. Their record was 47-23-12 last season.