Pittsburgh Penguins Allow Philadelphia Flyers Into Playoffs

Apr 9, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Conor Sheary (43) and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Mark Streit (32) battle for the puck during the first period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Conor Sheary (43) and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Mark Streit (32) battle for the puck during the first period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Penguins came into today’s game looking to sweep the Philadelphia Flyers in a season series for the first time since 2006-07. The Flyers had high incentive of their own, as they sought to secure a position in this year’s playoffs.

Having won 14 of their past 15 games, the Penguins are the hottest team in the National Hockey League right now. The Flyers, after winning three straight have most recently dropped three consecutive contests, the first of which came at the hands of Matt Murray and the Pittsburgh Penguins. If Philadelphia can muster two points in their last two games, they will vault ahead of the Boston Bruins and into the playoffs, earning the final Wild Card position.

In their regular season finale, Pittsburgh decided to sit both Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang. Home-ice in the first round has been secured, and with nothing more than momentum to play for, it was a smart decision by the Penguins to sit their two best players in order to avoid injury.

Prior to today’s game the Penguins recalled forward Kael Mouillierat from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The 28 year-old native of Alberta played last season with the New York Islanders organization. This season, at the AHL level, Mouillierat has 44 points (17 goals, 27 assists) in 64 games for the Baby Pens.

The Penguins certainly didn’t play like there wasn’t anything on the line in the first period. They came out aggressively and played a very tight game.

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Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux got the first quality scoring chance of the game however. After Matt Murray blocked a shot by Jacub Voracek with his right pad, Giroux took the puck on the rebound at the corner of the net and backhanded a shot which bounced off the crossbar.

Although the Flyers had the lion’s share of the shots, the Penguins got on the board first. With a two-on-one Carl Hagelin made a sweet pass across the defender to Nick Bonino who was able to beat Steve Mason for the first goal of the game.

Towards the end of the first, Murray made a phenomenal save, but in the process was hit in the head as the skater moved in on him. His helmet came flying off and he reached for his head. Murray was sent to the dressing room and backup Jeff Zatkoff came on to play.

Zatkoff and Murray
Apr 9, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) skates off the ice after a injury during the first period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Penguins goalie Jeff Zatkoff (37) replaced Murray. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

Coming in cold, Zatkoff didn’t have much of a shot on a quick opportunity by the Flyers. Wayne Simmonds received a cross-ice pass from Jakub Voracek and tipped it in to tie the game at one.

There wouldn’t be any more scoring in the first and the period would end with a 1-1 tie.

In the second period, as Conor Sheary was moving in on net, he was slashed on the wrist by Nick Schultz. It looked like a pretty hard hit on the wrist, and Sheary went down in pain. The refs didn’t see it that way and called Sheary for embellishment. Eighteen seconds later Jakub Voracek was called for holding on Trevor Daley and the Penguins would have a 4-on-3.

There were several good chance on that man-advantage but Pittsburgh couldn’t find the back of the net. After Voracek came out of the box, the Flyers were able to find the net though. On a shot that Zatkoff pretty much had no chance to stop, Shayne Gostisbehere sent one towards the net that caromed off of Wayne Simmonds and into the net, to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead.

Early in the third period, Tom Sestito put a big hit on Ryan White and was called for elbowing. Chris VandeVelde of the Flyers took objection with the hit and he and Sestito got into fisticuffs quickly, but were stopped just as quickly by the referees. Sestitio must have done most of the punching in that “fight” because he was called for fighting and a game misconduct. Meanwhile, VandeVelde received just two minutes for roughing.

At 14:08 of the third period, forward Kael Mouillierat was called for hooking Radko Gudas. The Pens did an excellent job in killing off that penalty though, keeping the deficit to one goal.

With Zatkoff pulled from the net, the Flyers got an extra goal when Pierre-Edouard Bellemare took the puck down the ice for an easy goal. With that, the Philadelphia Flyers earned a playoff spot.

The Penguins fought hard in their final regular season game. When you’re missing your two best offensive players, your best defensive player, your starting goaltender and your backup goaltender, it makes things a bit difficult though. The young guys played hard, but with nothing on the line for Pittsburgh in this game, the loss didn’t really mean anything for the Penguins.