The Philadelphia Flyers earned their third straight win tonight, as they earned a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at the CONSOL Energy Center. Brayden Schenn had both of the Orange and Black’s tallies this evening, while Ray Emery came through for Philly with a strong 30-save performance. Naturally, Sidney Crosby was the lone player to beat Emery, as it looks as though Philadelphia might be turning this season in a positive direction.
When Craig Berube was promoted to Flyers’ head coach, he talked about the team playing a strong defensive game and being better without the puck. The Orange and Black were that team tonight. The Pens may have missed a few chances early and completely missed the net on a chance here or there, but the Flyers provided suffocating defense in all three zones tonight.
“We’re winning right now. It was a good win,” Berube said after the win. “We didn’t get off to a great start, but our goalie was really good and gave us a chance to win and get our feet under us. And more than anything, I like the fact that we grinded the win out.”
The line of Sean Couturier, Steve Downie, and Matt Read may have not produced a goal tonight, but they shut down both Crosby’s and Evgeni Malkin’s lines throughout the night. Couturier pressured the puck carrier at all times when he was on the ice and caused several turnovers throughout, as Read did much of the same. The top two lines did the same, but they weren’t going up against the opposition’s stars for most of the game and already get enough recognition.
With the exception of the first chance of the game for the home team, the Flyers limited the Penguins’ second-chance opportunities and the defensemen were consistently the first ones on a loose puck in the corner before manufacturing its way out of the zone.
On top of the amazing defensive presence of the whole team, something has to be said for Emery, as well as Steve Mason. Both goaltenders may not always make the highlight reel save, but they don’t let in any soft goals and keep out almost all of the above-average chances for the opponents. Emery was no exception tonight, as the only puck that went past him was a redirection he didn’t have a chance to stop. He made his mark on the game by stopping a Crosby breakaway in the second period and snaring a Malkin wrister in the third period.
The Penguins started the game with a dominating offensive presence, which included a disallowed goal just 19 seconds in and a shot from the point that nailed the pipe minutes later, but it was the Flyers that found the back of the cage first.
As the visitors slowly diffused the offensive surge from the Penguins in the opening minutes, they started to create a few chances of their own before Wayne Simmonds caused a turnover, which led to the tilt’s first tally.
Robert Bortuzzo went into the corner to Marc-Andre Fleury’s right to grab a loose puck while the teams were changing lines before Simmonds charged over and knocked the blue liner off the disc. After a little pushing and shoving, Simmonds was able to control the puck below just above the goal line and passed it to the younger Schenn, who was just inside the circle to Fleury’s right. Schenn blasted a wrist shot past Fleury’s glove and off the inside off the far post for his first goal of the game.
The Orange and Black played a nice, defensive game for the remaining 3:58 following Schenn’s tally, as they entered the second period up by a goal. The middle stanza started where the opening frame left off until Jay Rosehill was called for a soft-yet-correct interference call on Craig Adams to put Pittsburgh on the power play.
The Pens weren’t getting too many chances until Malkin thread the needle from the side boards along the players’ benches to Crosby, who snuck into scoring position behind Nicklas Grossmann. Pittsburgh’s captain redirected the cross-ice pass past Emery’s blocker to even the score at one 8:29 into the second period.
After Philly killed off a Mark Streit high-sticking call, they went on a lengthy power-play opportunity that they ultimately cashed in on to regain the lead.
The Flyers couldn’t convert on their 5-on-3 advantage that lasted 21 seconds, but they did beat Fleury with the man advantage, as the younger Schenn potted his second of the contest.
A Jakub Voracek shot from the point deflected off of Downie and went past Fleury, but the puck rolled to the post and bounced back towards the top of the crease. Fortunately for Schenn, he was in perfect position to jump on the loose puck and slam it home to make it 2-1 for Philadelphia with 1:20 left in the middle period.
The final period was nothing but defensive play from the Flyers, as they consistently blocked shots, exited their own zone quickly, and dumped it at the red line.
Philly will look to make it a four-game winning streak Friday on the road against the Winnipeg Jets.
Notes: The Flyers ended a three-game losing streak to the Penguins with the win tonight…The Orange and Black are currently on a three-game winning streak. It’s their first winning streak of at least three games since they concluded last season with a four-game winning streak…Emery is 2-1-0 in his last three starts, as he has allowed three goals on 69 shots for a .957 save percentage in that span…Philly’s power play was 1-for-2 tonight and have now converted on three of their last five chances…Schenn has scored in two straight games and is on a three-game point streak. He has three goals and two assists during the streak…Simmonds has assists in back-to-back games…In his second full game with the team, Downie recorded his second assist for Philly…With assist, Voracek is now on a three-game point streak with two goals and two assists…Crosby ended a seven-game goal drought with his tally in the second period…Adam Hall had one shot on goal in 8:24 TOI against his former team…Michael Raffl, Hal Gill, and Andrej Meszaros were scratched for the Flyers. Dustin Jeffrey, Paul Martin, and Jayson Megna scratched for the Penguins…Philly improved to 4-4-1 against the Metropolitan Division and to 6-7-1 against the Eastern Conference…The Flyers improved to 7-10-1. They were 8-9-1 after 18 games last season.