The Philadelphia Flyers (21-19-3) gave the Pittsburgh Penguins (27-17-1) their first glimpse of “Peter Laviolette” hockey as Jeff Carter (15, 16) and James van Riemsdyk (9, 10) scored twice and Michael Leighton made 35 saves as the Flyers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 7-4 Thursday night at Mellon Arena.
The win was the Flyers first against Pittsburgh in four tries as the Flyers improved to 5-1-1 in their last seven games.
Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette has implemented an high octane style of offensive hockey and after some early struggles, Philadelphia has scored 6+ goals in four of their last five games. Matt Carle (3) and Chris Pronger also added goals for Philadelphia as the Flyers went 2-for-2 on the power play.
Sidney Crosby (25, 26), Matt Cooke (8) and Michael Rupp (11) scored for Pittsburgh.
It was a big night for a Flyers team on the upswing while Pittsburgh has lost 7 of 9 games.
For Pittsburgh it was another night of subpar goaltending from Marc Andre Fleury who was pulled in the second period after giving up 4 goals on 13 shots.
The play of Fleury has been concerning. Fleury was unable to keep Pittsburgh in the game as Philadelphia jumped out to leads of 3-1 and 4-2 with Fleury in net. Fleury is 1-6 in his last 7 games with a 4.48 GAA and a .870 save percentage.
Brent Johnson made 13 saves on 15 shots in relief of Fleury but gave Pittsburgh a chance to mount a comeback.
Loses in 7 of 9 games, Pittsburgh hits the road for a 5 game road trip that includes trips to Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
*When trailing, your power play has to get a key goal and it didn’t happen for the Penguins tonight. Pittsburgh was 0-for-3 on the power play.
The coaching staff went to a few different setups, even one with Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin at the points. Instead of putting Malkin at the right point with Letang being a right handed shot, Malkin remained on the left point and the threat of a one-timer just wasn’t there.
*Careless turnovers from Evgeni Malkin continue to plague the Penguins. Tonight with the Penguins down 5-3, Malkin turned the puck over in the offensive zone that led to a Flyers 3-on-2 opportunity as Daniel Briere hit Jeff Carter with a cross ice pass for Carter’s 2nd goal of the game.
It’s becoming a common theme of late.
*Offensively the Flyers are playing the type of system that suits them. They have one of the deepest group of forwards and the return of Simone Gagne has clearly elevated their play.
Under Laviolette, Daniel Briere is finally resembling the player he was in Buffalo.
*Sidney Crosby scored goals 25 and 26 on the season and was 18-for-29 on faceoffs. It’s hard to make an argument that there is a better player in the game right now.
*Just a day after getting his shoulder re-evaluated by team doctors, Max Talbot played with energy and provided the Penguins with a spark in certain situations. Best game he’s played all season and for one of the rare times this season, he wasn’t playing tentative.
*A bright sign for Pittsburgh was the play of Kris Letang for the second consecutive game. Letang was aggressive in the offensive zone jumping up in the play and was a physical presence in the D-zone. The Penguins are hopeful he is starting to build a strong second half.
*Defenseman Martin Skoula had 4:25 of ice time and was a minus-2. Tony Granato was seen ringing him out after a goal. Waiting for confirmation that he was benched or if there is an injury. Skoula remained on the bench all game.
*Eric Godard has 3:38 of ice time, was a minus-1 and took a penalty.
Notes: Defenseman Sergei Gonchar was a late scratch as head coach Dan Bylsma opted to sit Gonchar for one more game. It appeared after the morning skate that Gonchar was going to return to the lineup. Dan Bylsma said after the game that Gonchar desperately wanted to play. It’s a good bet that Gonchar returns to the lineup Saturday night.
*Like Sergei Gonchar, Ruslan Fedotenko (ankle) was also held out of tonight’s game. Fedotenko participated in the morning skate and skated well. He is day-to-day.
*Assistant coach Mike Yeo who was hospitalized for four days in Florida, re-joined the team today. Yeo is expected to return to the bench at somepoint during the Penguins 5 game road trip.
Quote of the night: “This is going to be a tough road trip…. this is going to be a big test.” —-Right winger Billy Guerin
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