Monday, April 16, 2012

Flyers Win a Slugfest, Take a 3-0 Series Lead

The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 8-4 in a slug-fest this afternoon, taking a 3-0 lead in the series.

Hartnell and the Crowd are pumped after the fights
There were 12 goals, 69 shots, 77 hits and 158 penalty minutes which included 6 fighting majors, 4 ten minutes majors, and 4 game misconducts. 18 players registered at least 1 point, 12 players scored at least 2 points, 5 players scored 2 goals, and 3 players scored 3 points.

Pittsburgh got on the board first, just like they have in the first 2 games of this series, but also like in Games 1 and 2, the Flyers came back. Jordan Staal gave the Penguins their lead but it didn't last long. The Flyers scored their third shorthanded goal of the series when Max Talbot buried home Claude Giroux's rebound.

Less than a minute and a half later the Flyers were on the PowerPlay and it was Danny Briere giving the Flyers their first lead of the game, a lead that they never squandered. Scott Hartnell found the big rebound let up by Marc Andre Fleury, and instead of shooting, found a wide open Briere, who broke the tie.

Simmonds scores 1st playoff goal in series
Briere then added to his point total and to the Flyers lead on a textbook 3 on 2 that saw Wayne Simmonds register his first point of the series on the beautiful setup. It was Briere's 100th career playoff point. 

Then everything came crashing down and the Penguins started to lose their composure. Sidney Crosby took a few hefty whacks at Ilya Bryzgalov's glove well after the whistle and the Flyers took exception. The scrum escalated from there and turned into 4 fighting majors and 2 ejections. Crosby jumped Kimmo Timonen, then Giroux jumped Crosby, then Kris Letang jumped Timonen and before you knew it all 4 were fighting. Giroux and Crosby had more of a wrestling match, punches didn't come from Crosby until after the linesman jumped in and Letang and Timonen shared fisticuffs. The end resulted in the odd ejections of both Timonen and Letang, arguably both teams top defensemen.

1st Period Brawl

Giroux vs Crosby
Just when everything appeared to be settled down, they were at it again. Brayden Schenn dished out what appeared to be a clean hit was then jumped by Arron Asham. Asham cross-checked Schenn in the throat and then punched him in the back of the head when he was down. Asham got a 5 minute match penalty (automatically reviewed by the league) and a game misconduct, while Schenn was given a charging minor despite the fact that the referees didn't make the call until after Asham's antics.

After it all finally settled, the goals kept coming. James Neal and Matt Read traded goals only 23 seconds apart. Neal split the Flyers defense on a nice play and beat Bryzgalov, then 23 seconds later Briere found Read from behind the net and it was a 2 goal lead again. The goal was Matt Read's first playoff goal, and he wasn't finished.

Asham Cross-checks Schenn's neck

The Flyers led for the first time in the series after the 1st period; 4-2.

Matt Read scores his 1st playoff goal
The 2nd period started out much calmer as there weren't any goals nor scrums in the first half of the period. But then the Flyers got into penalty trouble and the Penguins found themselves back in the game. James Neal got his second goal on the PowerPlay on a one-time blast that went through Bryzgalov's legs getting the Penguins within 1.

The Flyers then got their 2 goal lead back on a PowerPlay of their own. Jaromir Jagr, who had 3 assists today, made a beautiful pass to Matt Read, setting up the one-time shot which beat Fleury, scoring his second goal of the game. Read became the third Flyers rookie to register at least 2 points in the first 3 games (Brayden Schenn in Game 1: 3 points and Sean Couturier in Game 2: 4 points).

However, the 2 goal lead was short lived as only a minute and a half later, Jordan Staal cut the lead to 1 again with his second goal of the game (5 separate players had 2 goals today).

Giroux scores the Flyers 7th goal
Yet again it was the Flyers who responded. Braydon Coburn sprung Wayne Simmonds for the breakaway and he used his long reach to get around Fleury, giving the Flyers a 6-4 lead heading into the final stanza.

Then 27 seconds into the 3rd period, the Flyers got their insurance marker. Jagr showed flashes of his old self when he battled off a Penguins defenseman using one hand while controlling the puck with the other. Jagr than made a one handed pass to Claude Giroux and he blasted it past Brent Johnson, who replaced Fleury to start the 3rd period.

The Flyers then buckled down defensively and played a strong period completely shutting down the Penguins potent offense.

Hartnell jumped by Crosby
The Penguins didn't go out quietly, nor did they go out with dignity or class. With a little over 5 minutes remaining James Neal ran over rookie Sean Couturier, in a jump check fashion but wasn't called for the interference, or the charging or the roughing or...

Then the unpenalized Neal, proceeded to take a run at Giroux. Neal's hands were up high but Giroux saw it in time and ducked out of the way of most of the hit. And that sequence led to more rough stuff. Jake Voracek and Chris Kunitz were going at it, while Simmonds and Neal were pushing and shoving. All the while, Crosby grabs Hartnell from behind and tried to throw him to the ice (Hartnell not down). Then Hartnell proceeded to get jumped by Craig Adams. Hartnell then finally got free and squared off with Adams, who ended up pulling Hartnell's hair during the fight. It's the Pittsburgh way. James Neal got a charging penalty and a 10 minute misconduct for his antics, while Craig Adams got 2 minutes for instigation (which can be reviewed by the league for suspension purposes) 5 minutes for fighting and also a 10 minute game misconduct. 

3rd Period Brawl
One of the many scrums
Hartnell spoke about the altercations after the game saying, "I think after every scrum we made a point to walk away every time and I think Crosby started almost every scrum. The fight that he had with Giroux, then the last one he came and grabbed me from behind and for almost every time he was out there. If they're trying to get under our skin, they're not. They're just getting more frustrated with themselves, which is great."

The Flyers wound up with a PowerPlay following the scrum and tallied one more time. Talbot notched his second goal of the game and third of the series against his former mates.

The game, which took over 3 hours to play, went final at 8-4.
And when all the smoke cleared, the Flyers emerged with a 3-0 series lead.

Game Notes:
Stuffed penguin w/ noose around it's neck was thrown on ice
  • Brayden Schenn (cross-checked in the throat by Asham), Sean Couturier (charged by Neal), and Claude Giroux (also charged by Neal) were all uninjured and finished the game. 
  • Matt Read became the third different Flyer to score a game winning goal in the series (Voracek and Jagr). 
  • The Flyers were 4-7 on the PowerPlay and 4-5 on the penalty kill today. For the series, they are 6-10 on the PowerPlay and 9-12 on the penalty kill. The Flyers also have scored 3 shorthanded goals in the series.
  • The Flyers scored 4 PowerPlay goals, a shorthanded goal, a 4 on 4 goal, and 2 full strength goals today. 
  • Wayne Simmonds tallied his first playoff point of the series and scored his first playoff goal as a Flyer.
  • 11 different Flyers registered at least 1 point, 8 Flyers scored 2 points or more, and 2 Flyers scored 3 points. 
  • Danny Briere (2g, 1a) and Jaromir Jagr (3a) each scored 3 points and both have 5 points in the series.
  • Claude Giroux leads the NHL in playoff points with 8 (4g, 4a). 
  • After the game, Sidney Crosby was asked about childish play of knocking Jake Voracek's glove away as Jake was trying to pick it up and Crosby responded, "I don't like him. What was I supposed to do, pick it up for him?"
 Crosby doesn't like the Flyers
  • Voracek was informed of Crosby's disdain for him and Jake responded, "That's fine, the feeling is mutual."
  • During the game, the Real Hulk Hogan addressed the Flyers fans on the Jumbotron...

Watch Full Highlights:   HERE

Drop the Puck:
The Philadelphia Flyers will host Game 4 against the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night.

Stanley Cup News:

(photos courtesy of ESPN NHL, videos courtesy of NBC Sports, and FlyersTV)

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