PENGUINS RALLY PAST FLYERS
Chris Kunitz (14) scored 18 seconds into the third period for his second goal of the game to cap off a four goal rally, leading the Pittsburgh Penguins (16-8-0, 32 pts) to a 5-4 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers (11-13-1, 23 pts) on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Pascal Dupuis (8), James Neal (15) and Tyler Kennedy (3) also scored for the Penguins who rallied from a 4-1 first period deficit, extending their winning streak to three games.
Sidney Crosby had three assists and leads the NHL with 39 points.
For the Flyers, Jakub Voracek (12) had two power play goals, Zac Rinaldo (3) and Kimmo Timonen (3) also scored in the loss.
Marc Andre Fleury was pulled after giving up 4 goals on 18 shots in the first period and the game would see both starting goaltenders pulled as Ilya Bryzgalov was pulled in the second period after giving up 4 goals on 16 shots.
Tomas Vokoun made 14 saves on 14 shots to record the win.
POST-GAME THOUGHTS (10)
1. *The Penguins came not ready to play being outshot 18-4 and outscored 4-1 in the first period. It was the same story it’s been for the Penguins, falling into the trap they always do against the Flyers. The Penguins top players were getting into penalty trouble, most notably James Neal, couldn’t defend in front of the net, and Marc Andre Fleury looked rattled. Didn’t that look familiar.
2. *In the second period and the final forty minutes of the game, the Penguins took over the game getting second period goals from Pascal Dupuis, James Neal, and Tyler Kennedy as all three lines chipped in. As bad as the Penguins were in the first period, the Flyers might have been worse in the second period. Philadelphia showed no life and what was amazing was how they just sat back. Pittsburgh outshot Philadelphia 12-3 in the second period and then the Penguins quick strike ability struck again when Kunitz scored 18 seconds into the third period. That’s what makes this team so dangerous is their quick strike ability and the Penguins played very well in front of Tomas Vokoun. Vokoun in fact was barely tested until the final five to seven minutes of the game. That’s a testament to how the Penguins slowed the game down when they needed do.
3. *A huge positive tonight for the Penguins was the play of Beau Bennett on the second line. The scouting report on him in Wilkes Barre was that he thought the game at an “elite level” and that’s been the case since his promotion to the NHL. Right when he gets the puck he already knows what he wants to do with the puck and that’s big for a young player. The way Bennett battled tonight also stood out.
4. *With all this talk of the Penguins needing a top-6 winger, how could you mess with the Crosby line?. Kunitz and Crosby are one of the best center/winger combinations in the NHL and Pascal Dupuis continues to be such a great fit on the right side due his speed and forechecking ability. Dupuis speed opens up a lot of things. With how good Bennett also looked tonight with Malkin and Neal, a former NHL player texted me in the third period saying (jokingly) “Iginla would be on the third line with this team”.
5. *Even though the Penguins came back to win and Marc Andre Fleury looked extremely rattled in the first, I still don’t feel pulling him after the first period was the right move. Pittsburgh didn’t win this game because of the goaltending change.
6. *Deryk Engelland’s play in his own end has been very suspect this season and his struggles to defend Zach Rinaldo properly on Rinaldo’s goal is the type of struggles he’s had this season and why he shouldn’t be given a free pass every night to stay in the lineup despite his ability his fight.
7. *How flat the Flyers were in the second period, that’s when you need your goaltender to be a difference maker. After a hot start to the season, Ilya Bryzgalov continues to look like the average goaltender he is and the Flyers are crazy not to seriously consider buying Bryzgalov out this summer and acquiring Robert Luongo.
8. *Watching Daniel Briere closely tonight, I can see why GM Paul Holmgren is said to be determined to move Briere and his $6.5 million cap hit by the summer.
9. *Flyers center Sean Couturier is a prime example of a young player whose confidence is shot. What a different player he is from last spring. He looks so tentative on the ice.
10 *At the mid-mark of the season, the Penguins are the favorites to win the Atlantic Division but the New York Rangers could become their toughest competition. The Rangers winners of four straight are starting to find their game and while they trail the Penguins by 6 pts, New York has played two less games than Pittsburgh.