In tonight’s much anticipated tussle between the Atlantic’s top two teams – let alone bitter rivals – the Penguins emerged victorious 2-1 in a shootout but gained just one precious point on the Flyers in the quest for the Division, and possibly the Eastern Conference, title.
Despite the disappointment of not gaining a clean two points, the visiting Pens gained confidence for the present and the future by out-playing Philadelphia. Pittsburgh held a 31-20 shot advantage and was clearly the aggressor during most of the night.
Fortunately for the Flyers, their free agent rookie goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky, put his dreadful performance against Washington on Tuesday (3 GA, 21 minutes) behind him and looked spectacular in making 30 saves.
The Pens played an ideal road game. The only thing that didn’t go according to plan was Mike Richards’ first period goal that opened the scoring for Philly. Pittsburgh outshot their counterpart in every period, was a perfect 3-for-3 on the penalty kill, and converted 1-of-2 power plays. Tyler Kennedy’s second period wrister was the only shot that got past Bobrovsky until the shootout.
In the shootout, Alex Kovalev proved how cool he actually is. His non-chalant style bothers me during game action, but it is magical in 1-on-1 situations. Kovalev calmly crossed over Bobrovsky and slid home the first marker. Daniel Briere extended the game for Philly when he beat Marc-Andre Fleury who was also strong in net throughout the contest.
Chris Kunitz finished the game when he scored in the shootout’s fourth round. Kunitz got Bobrovsky to flop and then powered the puck through the Russian’s goal stick and through the five hole to ignite celebration.
The Penguins might not catch the Flyers in the regular season. But that isn’t the point. Missing Sidney Crosby (Captain), Evgeni Malkin (Assistant Captain), and Brooks Orpik (Assistant Captain), in addition to tons of other man-games lost, have severally hindered this team offensively and defensively. The one thing it hasn’t affected is this club’s coaching, grit, and heart. This team will not be an easy out come playoff time.
Speaking of injuries, Dustin Jeffrey hobbled off the ice and was carried to the dressing room after Jeff Carter fell into his leg. Jeffrey fell awkwardly and appeared to have a lower body injury.