In the first game of the series that produced less than seven goals total, the Pens held on for a 3-2 victory in Pittsburgh tonight. After they fell into a 3-0 hole in the series, the Pens have rattled off two straight wins to force Game 6 after their first win in a game of importance against the Flyers at the CONSOL Energy Center since it opened.
Marc-Andre Fleury didn’t let the Flyers even the score in the third period despite the fact Philly out shot Pittsburgh 14-8 in the final frame. With several crucial saves throughout the contest, Fleury has seemed to regain his confidence in net.
Jordan Staal recorded his second game-winning goal in as many games in the second period, while he and Tyler Kennedy each had a goal and an assist in the tilt. Kris Letang was the third Pen to post a two-point performance with a pair of helpers in the win.
Ilya Bryzgalov looked better in tonight’s loss, but still lost as he stopped 20 of 23 shots. Matt Carle and Scott Hartnell registered the goals for Philly tonight on power-play goals in the first period.
Despite failing to close out the series for a second time, the Flyers are confident they can win Game 6 at home.
“We want to make sure we’re ready for one game, and one game only, and that’s Sunday afternoon,” said Claude Giroux.”We got to get that win for our fans and ourselves.”
“Everytime we’ve had a little pressure this year we’ve stepped up to the plate,” said Max Talbot after the loss. ”Now, we’re going back home, Game 6, in front of our fans. We’re excited about it.”
For the first time in this series, the play seemed to be more focused on defense than offense. With that being said, the score ended up being 2-1 after 20 minutes in favor of Philly.
The Orange and Black looked to have a slight advantage in the contest’s first few minutes before Wayne Simmonds took a skate to the penalty box for his trip on Kennedy behind the Flyers’ net. Thanks to strong defense from the penalty kill, Bryzgalov only had to stop one shot on the disadvantage.
Just under four minutes later, the Flyers received their first man advantage of the game. With Deryk Engelland in the sin bin for roughing Danny Briere in the neutral zone, Carle potted a tally on the power play for a Flyers’ lead.
Matt Read controlled the puck just inside the Pens’ zone before he walked across the blue line and passed the disc to Carle. The d-man’s snap shot found it’s way through traffic and past Fleury, who had a Flyer fall on top of him after the goal.
As with almost every other one-goal lead in this series, Philly saw Pittsburgh even the score 3:06 later with Braydon Coburn in the box for interference.
Letang held the puck at the point before he moved it Steve Sullivan, who stood in the middle of the circle to Letang’s left. Bryzgalov thought Letang took a shot from the point and dropped to the ice, as Sullivan capitalized on the goalie’s misplay to make it a 1-1 affair.
Less than three minutes later, Hartnell deposited his first goal of the series with a couple of Pens in the sin bin.
After Evgeni Malkin took an undisciplined roughing minor on Brayden Schenn at the Pens’ net following a whistle, Craig Adams broke Jaromir Jagr’s stick with a slash immediately after a faceoff. Giroux moved the puck to Briere at the bottom of the circle before #48 flipped a pass over a sprawled out Brooks Orpik to Hartnell. As Fleury dropped to the ice in anticipation of a quicker shot, Hartnell showed some patience and ripped a shot high for a marker 10 seconds into the Flyers’ two-man advantage.
The Flyers closed out the first period with the lead, but thanks to a pair of goals from Pittsburgh 3:38 apart in the first half of the second period Philly found themselves down by one after 40 minutes.
Staal scored his fourth goal in a five-period span with his snap shot 6:15 into the middle stanza. Although he had a two-on-one with Matt Cooke, Staal thought (and telegraphed) shot the entire way before he beat Bryzgalov for his sixth of the series.
Minutes later, Kennedy used the space the Flyers’ defense gave him to blast a slap shot past Bryz for the Pens’ first lead of the contest. Cooke found Kennedy alone in the middle of the circle before Pittsburgh’s bottom-six forward wound up and rocketed the disc past Bryzgalov’s blocker.
Pittsburgh’s shot advantage may have only been 9-5 in the frame, but the Pens dominated the final half of the second period, as they headed into the final 20 minutes up by a goal.
In the third period, the Flyers threw the kitchen sink at Fleury. Unfortunately, the Flower denied everything Philly had to offer.
The Flyers crashed the net and produced numerous opportunities on the doorstep, but the Penguins’ netminder made 14 stops in the final 20 minutes to let Pittsburgh hold on for a 3-2 win to force Game 6.
The Orange and Black will look to end the series for a third time on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Notes: After he missed the last 23 games, James van Riemsdyk returned to the line-up tonight. He had one missed shot and one hit in 7:31 TOI…Carle’s goal in the first period ended a 58-game goal drought. It also ended a 17-game goal drought, as his last goal in the postseason was in Game 4 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals…Bryzgalov has allowed at least two goals against in his last 18 playoff games…Tonight was the Flyers’ first road loss in the playoffs since Game 4 of their 2011 Eastern Conference Semifinals match-up with the Boston Bruins.