Flyers 4 – Penguins 2
(PIT LEADS SERIES, 3-2)
The Philadelphia Flyers have extended the series and forced a Game 6 with a 4-2 win on Friday Night at the PPG Paints Arena.
Sean Couturier broke a 2-2 tie with a 1:15 left in regulation and Matt Read added an empty netter as the Flyers staved off elimination.
The loss for the Penguins was more about the Penguins themselves than the Flyers.
Pittsburgh had a meh performance through the first half of the game, which was even in play, but the Penguins started finding their legs in the second period, big game Bryan Rust tied the game at 1-1 (12:00 mark) and then Jake Guentzel put the Penguins up 2-1 with his second goal of the playoffs, 4:45 later.
Momentum was all with the Penguins and then 17 seconds after the Guentzel goal, Pittsburgh goes on the power play as Radko Gudas is called for holding.
This seemed like a situation where it would be game over, but instead Pittsburgh’s No. 1 power play in Mike Sullivan’s mind got caught with an extended shift and Valtteri Filppula scored shorthanded to tie the game at 2-2.
Michal Neuvirth made 30 saves for the Flyers in his first start since Feb. 16 and the move by Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol to start Neuvirth gave Philadelphia an obvious spark.
And Neuvirth playing well early was also a needed element for the Flyers mentally in believing they could get the goaltending to extend the series as all confidence had been lost in Brian Elliott.
Sidney Crosby has been phenomenal in the series with 5 goals and 5 assists. What’s been interesting, though, in both Penguin losses this series is how Crosby was in identical spots late in a period to change the momentum of a game.
Game 2 it was firing wide in the waning seconds of period two, a goal Crosby scores 9 out of 10 times and then in Game 5 Neuvirth had highway robbery on Crosby with 50.3 seconds left in regulation from the same exact spot.
— When the Penguins have blown 3-1 series leads in the past, they’ve suffered the type of losses in Game 5 that are momentum changing altering type losses where the opposition gets life with a dominating performance they can build off of.
It happened in 2014 against the Rangers where New York whooped the Penguins all over the ice with a 5-1 win and Pittsburgh never re-took control of the series.
Going way back, in 2011 was the same case against the Lightning.
This game 5 loss for the Penguins was none of that.
Derick Brassard had an assist, 8 shots on goal, 64% in possession and was 75% in the faceoff circle. Brassard had his best game of the series during 5-on-5 play.
Phil Kessel was a minus-2 and had 0 shots on goal. Kessel continues to look bothered with something as there’s explosiveness in his skating right now.