Penguins Avoid Sweep Emphatically, Destroy Flyers, 10-3

Image Courtesy of Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

Although much of the media assumed the series was over, the Pittsburgh Penguins came out and reminded everyone they’re still alive with an impressive 10-3 victory over the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center tonight.

Jordan Staal recorded a hat trick including the game-winner, which came late in the first period, while Evgeni Malkin had two goals and an assist for a three-point performance. Sidney Crosby followed up Sunday’s cowardly display with a three-point night that featured a goal and two assists. The 10-goal outburst came without the services of James Neal, Arron Asham, Craig Adams, and Paul Martin.

“I just want to keep this playoff going,” Staal said. “And it was a big game from a lot of guys in the room tonight.”

Marc-Andre Fleury allowed tonight’s first goal, but he stopped 22 out of 25 and seemed to gain some confidence in the process.

“It was a crazy game in a lot of ways,” Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. “But we got a lot of big saves at key times, and we were able to turn it the other way.”

Ilya Bryzgalov, on the other hand, looked shaky throughout the contest and was pulled in the second period after he denied 13 of 18 shots.

Despite losing by seven goals, both Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds posted two points in the loss. Giroux had a goal and an assist, while Simmonds had two helpers in the first period.

Just like the first three games of this series, tonight’s first period was a bit ridiculous.

For the first time in the series, the Flyers scored the game’s first goal. After he drew a high-sticking call on Steve Sullivan, Giroux scored on the man advantage. Simmonds fought for the puck in the corner before he advanced it to Jaromir Jagr in the slot, who then moved it to Giroux at the side of the net. Although the biscuit hit Giroux in the skates, the Flyers’ forward managed to control the puck on his stick before he beat Fleury five-hole for his fifth of the playoffs.

Philly had a chance to extend their lead to two when Malkin went to the box 15 seconds after Giroux’s tally, but Malkin erased his mistake with a goal shortly after he left the sin bin. Eight seconds after he rejoined the action, Malkin raced to the front of the Flyers’ net and benefited from Bryzgalov’s horrible rebound control for his first goal of the 2012 playoffs.

Less than five minutes later, Matt Niskanen put the Pens’ up by one. Crosby found a seam in the Flyers’ penalty kill to hit Niskanen for a one-timer bid.

Philly tied the game later in the period following a series of penalty calls in their favor. After Chris Kunitz, Brooks Orpik, and Matt Cooke entered the penalty box, the Orange and Black found the back of the net with their 5-on-3 advantage and a two-minute power play that followed.

The Flyers poured on continuous pressure with their 4-on-3 advantage before Zac Rinaldo exited the box to give Philly a two-man advantage. Late in the special teams’ sequence, Kimmo Timonen blasted a slap shot five-hole on Fleury to tie the game at two.

Jakub Voracek scored 46 seconds later to restore the Flyers’ lead. Simmonds bobbled a Scott Hartnell pass at the side of the net before he moved the puck across the slot to Voracek, who had to put a shot past a sprawling Fleury for his second goal of the playoffs.

Not even 30 seconds later the Penguins tied the game at three. Another Niskanen shot led to another Pens’ goal, as his shot was redirected by Crosby in front and past Bryzgalov before it hit the back post in the net and came flying out. A brief review of the play showed the puck obviously crossed the goal line.

In a matter of 70 seconds, the Penguins found themselves with a 4-3 lead. Sloppy defense and multiple attempts for the Pens’ forwards led to a tally from Staal to give Pittsburgh the upper-hand before the end of the opening stanza.

The second period saw Pittsburgh pull way ahead of the Flyers, as the Pens potted five goals to enter the third period up 9-3.

The first three goals in the stanza came on the power play within the first 10:55. Kris Letang was the second player on the Pens’ to receive a Crosby pass through the seam on the power play to beat Bryzgalov with a one-timer that the netminder had no chance to stop. It was here that Peter Laviolette pulled Bryzgalov for Sergei Bobrovsky.

“At that point, Bryz needed to come out,” Laviolette said. “Generally speaking, we all need to be better at what we do. But he needed to come out of that situation. So, I changed it up, tried to shake the tree a little bit.”

After the goalie change, Staal beat Bobrovsky through traffic to make it a 6-3 game 7:21 into the period for his second. Staal’s goal also forced Laviolette to burn his timeout.

The timeout did nothing, as the Flyers continued to play sloppy and pour it on. On Pittsburgh’s seventh goal of the tilt, Philly’s defense let Sullivan walk into the zone and rip a slap shot past Bobrovsky’s glove.

Just over four minutes later, Pascal Dupuis beat Bryzgalov for his second tally of the 2012 playoffs. Staal proceeded to put home his third of the affair 64 seconds after Dupuis’ marker to put Pittsburgh up by an unthinkable six-goal margin to close out the second period.

Pittsburgh wasn’t done scoring, as Malkin put home another goal in the third period. A Kunitz breakaway led to a rebound for Malkin to slam home and increase the Pens’ lead to seven goals.

With the addition of ten-minute misconducts for Cooke, Joe Vitale, Pavel Kubina, and Simmonds later in the stanza for some pushing and shoving, the game concluded with the Flyers’ hopes of finishing the series moved to Game 5 on Friday night.

Notes: Nick Grossmann is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, believed to be a concussion…With a goal and an assist tonight, Giroux has 10 points in the last three games (5 goals and 5 assists)…The last time the Flyers allowed 10 goals in a playoff game was in a 10-7 defeat to the Penguins on April 25, 1989 during Game 5 of a Patrick Division Finals match-up that the Flyers won in seven games…Simon Despres, Eric Tangradi, and Brian Strait all took part in their first NHL playoff game tonight. Despres was plus-2, Tangradi had an assist and was plus-2, and Strait was plus-3…Niskanen’s goal in the first period was his first goal in the NHL playoffs…Both Neal and Adams can return for Game 5…Fleury had an assist on Sullivan’s goal.