The Penguins were bound to suffer a letdown at some point. But did it have to happen against Philadelphia? The visiting Flyers scored four unanswered goals and got some fortuitous bounces to trounce the Pens 5-2 and extend their division lead to 4 points.
This one hurt. With a whole lot on the line, the Pens had just 13 shots on goal after two periods and Marc-Andre Fleury allowed 5 goals on only 24 shots. Bottom line: Pittsburgh blew an excellent opportunity to pull even with Philly in the standings.
Tyler Kennedy gave the Pens a 2-1 lead midway through the second and had a great chance shortly after on a 2-on-1 break to make it a two-goal game. But Kennedy never pulled the trigger, and Mike Richards saved the day by blocking a Chris Kunitz shot at an open net after a scramble. It was all Flyers from that point forward.
Scott Hartnell scored on a power play with 6:15 left in the second to tie it up, and Claude Giroux (slowly becoming a Penguin killer) sent a long wrister past Fleury 57 seconds later to give the Flyers their first lead. (I hate to complain about the officiating, but Philly got lucky when the refs blew an obvious high-sticking call on Kimmo Timonen late in the second. It should have been a double minor because it cut James Neal. I don’t know why I even mention this because the Pens lousy power play would have failed to score anyway.)
Ville Leino scored two strange goals three minutes apart in the third (5:30 and 8:38) to put the game out of reach before the midway point of the frame. One went off his body and off Fleury before crossing the line, the other was a shot from close range that went up and over Fleury’s head. Jeff Carter’s first-period goal went off the post then off Fleury prior to going in. Just not Pittsburgh’s – or Fleury’s – night.
If the Pens don’t capture the Atlantic – and that’s a very real possibility at this point – they can blame their record against the Flyers, who won all three games at Consol and went 4-1-1 overall. When you consider the head-to-head matchup, it’s hard to argue that Philadelphia does not deserve the crown.
Mark Letestu returned to the lineup and centered the top line between Neal and Alex Kovalev, who scored the Pens first goal. Mike Comrie was a healthy scratch. Max Talbot had a night to forget, finishing the game -3.