SUMMARY: Jakub Voracek scored the go ahead goal with 1:31 remaining in the third period to cap off a hat trick and a thrilling Philadelphia Flyers (8-9-1, 17 pts) 6-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins (11-6-0, 22 pts) on Wednesday night at the Consol Energy Center.
Voracek’s game winning bad angle goal came 32 seconds after Brandon Sutter (4) tied the game with a beautiful wraparound goal as the Penguins came back from a 5-3 third period deficit to tie the game at 5-5 with 2:03 left in the third period.
The Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead getting goals from Matt Niskanen (2) and Evgeni Malkin (4) 2:08 apart, but the Flyers would go on to score four unanswered goals to take a 4-2 lead just 18 seconds into the third period.
Tyler Kennedy (2) would cut the Flyers lead to 4-3 at 5:29 of the third period leading to a wild third period that saw the Penguins claw back from two goals only to see Voracek sink them moments later.
For the Flyers, Wayne Simmonds had two goals and an assist and Nicklas Grossman also scored for the Flyers in the win. The Penguins got power play goals from Evgeni Malkin and James Neal, while Sutter, Kennedy and Niskanen also scored.
The goaltending was shaky at best for both teams and Penguins netminder Tomas Vokoun put together a brutal performance, making 26 saves on 32 shots in the loss.
In a fast paced up and down game, the Flyers – Penguins Wednesday night had just about everything from thrilling goals, to strange goals to physical play to fights. Hockey’s best rivalry stood up to that claim.
While there were some positive moments for the Penguins and some will argue that it was just one game, but when the coaches break down the tape in the morning, they are likely going to be coming out of this game with a bitter taste as the Flyers once again got under the Penguins skin and sucked the Penguins into playing the Flyers type of game, which the Penguins have tried to avoid against them.
However let’s first look at the GOOD from this game for the Penguins:
1. Power Play – The power play was excellent again getting power play goals from Malkin and Neal. The Penguins have scored a power play goal in nine straight games and overall were 2 of 7 on the night. The puck movement continues to be lights out, a very promising sign.
2. Brandon Sutter – Sutter had his signature moment, tying the game at 5-5 with 2:03 left in the game with a beautiful wrap around goal for his fourth of the season. That’s the type of goal the Penguins would get from Jordan Staal in the past.
3. Tyler Kennedy – The invisible man for much of the season showed some life, getting his first goal since January 20th at 5:29 of the third period to get the Penguins back in the game. Will this jumpstart Kennedy?
FLYERS SUCK PENGUINS INTO PLAYING FLYERS TYPE OF GAME:
The Flyers got under the Penguins skin constantly, something that’s become a growing concern for the Penguins. “I don’t know how many times we can address it,” Brooks Orpik said. “I think we lost our focus a little bit. It’s something we addressed even before the playoffs last year and addressed it in the playoffs. They obviously like to target and for whatever reason we like to retaliate back,” Orpik said. “We need to move on and just take that stuff.”
“We got too emotional and involved with the extra curricular down the line,” head coach Dan Bylsma said afterwards.
After falling down 2-0, Peter Laviolette had an excellent coaching night. Despite having the first change he got the matchups he wanted and put physical forwards up against the Crosby and Malkin lines. The Penguins top line of Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis and Crosby were a combined minus-9 and Zach Rinaldo showed how effective of a player he can be when he plays within the rules. He was physical with the likes of Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Kris Letang and drove the Penguins nuts.
What the Flyers were doing was taking the Penguins stars to the penalty box with them from Sean Couturier/Evgeni Malkin to Zach Rinaldo/Kris Letang. Those are wins for the Flyers.
“We know how they play and they like to target certain guys,” Orpik said. “Rinaldo goes off with Kris Letang and that’s a pretty good tradeoff for them. I don’t think its very good for our chances of winning the hockey game.”
“Same old story,” winger James Neal said on the Flyers getting under the Penguins skin after the whistle. “We can’t get dragged into that.”
When it comes to these continuous issues, the Penguins have been just all “talk”.
Against Philadelphia the Penguins also seem to lack structure and that was the case tonight. At times they were a mess defensively running out of position and struggled to defend the front of the net.