Pittsburgh Penguins Knock Down Philadelphia Flyers

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The Pittsburgh Penguins headed across state for an early afternoon game against their Metropolitan Division rival Philadelphia Flyers. As the playoff horizon approaches, this was a key game for both teams.

The Flyers have a game-at-hand and prior to Saturday’s match-up were a mere four points behind the Pens in the Metropolitan Division standings. With these two teams separated by such a narrow margin, and being natural rivals, the game had the potential for a playoff-type atmosphere.

Just under two minutes into the second period, Radko Gudas got the Flyers on the board first. Gudas sent a puck from the point through traffic, which seemed to be redirected twice, before sneaking past Marc-Andre Fleury.

That Philadelphia lead wouldn’t last long though. Just over one minute later, Trevor Daley tied the game up. Taking a cross-ice pass from Nick Bonino, Daley scored his first goal in 25 games by beating Steve Mason over his glove. That was Daley’s fifth goal on the season, and Bonino’s tenth assist.

Bonino would pick up assist number 11 on the season, with just over three minutes remaining in the second period, as he set up Carl Hagelin to give the Pens the 2-1 lead. Phil Kessel actually set the play up with some nice forechecking. As he freed the puck up, Bonino took it and sent it to the center of the Flyers’ zone where Hagelin ripped a slap shot past Mason.

That lead wasn’t enough for the Pens though. At 18:25 of the second, the Flyers mishandled a pass at the Pens’ blue line. Patric Hornqvist took control of the puck and was off to the races. He funneled the puck over to Sidney Crosby as they entered the Flyers’ zone. Crosby adroitly dropped a pass back to a charging Chris Kunitz, who drilled the puck towards the Flyers’ net. Kunitz’ blast missed the net, but took a fortuitous bounce off the end-boards where it found the back of Steve Mason’s leg and wound up in the net. Pens were now up 3-1.

That’s the way the second period would end. The Pens held an astounding 18 shot lead on the Flyers at the end of the second stanza, and it was paying off with a two goal lead.

With 1:38 left in the game, and the Flyers’ net empty, Kris Letang sealed the game for the Penguins, as they went up 4 goals to 1. The Flyers outpaced the Penguins in hits, blocks and faceoff wins. The Pens however, outshot the Flyers, 35-17, and led in the only category that really matters, goals.

This was the first of three games the two Metropolitan Division rivals will play over a three-week span. It was a key victory for the Penguins as they look to gain a playoff spot via the Wild Card, or more hopefully, via one of the three Metropolitan Division slots. In fact, with the win, the Pens moved ahead of the New York Islanders for the third playoff spot in the division. The Islanders do have two games at hand and play later this evening, but it was a positive sign for the Pens to get into that spot, if only temporarily. This was the fifth win in a row for the Pens, which gives them some much needed momentum as they head down the home stretch.