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Flyers Blow Lead and Fall to Penguins

Their rivalry has become one of the fiercest in the NHL. Each game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins never fails to disappoint, and this was the case once again Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.  The Flyers came into the game following a disappointing 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers while the Penguins were coming off a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Broad Street Bullies, however, only had to look to their last meeting with the Penguins to get some confidence for Thursday evening. The Flyers triumphed over the Pens 6-5 on February 20 where Flyers leading scorer Jakub Voracek played a pivotal role, notching a hat trick. Voracek was a key piece of the rivalry yet again on Thursday. Unfortunately for the Flyers, however, many Penguin players were also ready to make an impact.

The Flyers did get some uplifting news before game time though as it was announced that sniper Matt Read would be returning to the lineup. The young forward had been sidelined since February 21 with torn muscles in his rib cage. The news was very surprising as he wasn’t expected to be back until early April. At the time of his injury, the 26-year-old had been the team’s leading scorer.

There was also some speculation to whether or not physical defenseman Nicklas Grossman would be in the lineup Thursday after suffering a lower body injury during the Flyers loss to the Rangers. He would be declared good to go against the Penguins.

The Flyers got off to an energetic start at the Wells Fargo Center thanks to a packed building full of noisy fans. The Flyers would get some early chances but Pens netminder Marc-Andre Fleury would use the glove to turn away Claude Giroux and Matt Read. The men in orange would build off their early momentum though and find a way to score. With Pens forward James Neal off for elbowing, the Flyers lethal power-play would go to work. Captain Claude Giroux would make a nice pass cross-ice to Flyers leading scorer Jakub Voracek who would slide one by Fleury for his 11th goal of the year.

The Penguins would respond, however, just under a minute later when a Scott Hartnell penalty sent them to the power-play. The scorching Chris Kunitz would jump on a loose puck to snipe home his 13th goal of the season, tying the game at one.  The Flyers would take the lead once again though three minutes later as Zac Rinaldo banged home a rebound from a Nicklas Grossman point shot. It was the pesky forward’s third goal on the year.

Flyers Blow Lead and Fall to Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins score one of their five goals on the evening.
(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Still in the first period, defenseman Kimmo Timonen would put the Flyers up 3-1 with a weak goal. He collected the puck at the left point and put it on net. It somehow got by Fleury and put the Flyers in control of the game. There was no traffic in front of the net and Fleury saw it clearly but it still got through. The Flyers still weren’t done in the first period, however, as Voracek would notch his second goal of the evening. With just eight seconds remaining in the period and the home team on the power play, Voracek shot from the point and put the Flyers up 4-1. The puck appeared to redirect off a few Penguins before getting by the goalie.  Fleury would be replaced by Tomas Vokoun to start the second period. After the first frame, Philly had an impressive 18-4 advantage in shots. We all know what can happen in a Penguins/Flyers game though….

Pittsburgh came out flying in the second period and finally got rewarded five minutes in when the NHL’s leading scorer Sidney Crosby centered to linemate Pascal Dupuis who would put the puck into the net. Bryzgalov was down and out after a scrambled play in front and couldn’t recover in time for the Dupuis opportunity. The always lethal James Neal would put the Penguins within one just three minutes later as a centering attempt for Malkin ended up going off a Flyer skate and past Bryzgalov.

The Pens would even the score before the period ended as Tyler Kennedy would rifle a shot from the high slot past a screened Bryz. That would be the end to the netminder’s evening as Brian Boucher would come in to replace him. The Flyers knew they would need a better third period after an absolutely terrible showing in the second.

That didn’t happen as Chris Kunitz would take a pretty pass from Crosby just eight seconds in and beat Boucher to put the Penguins up 5-4. It was Kunitz’s second goal of the night and just like that, the Flyers lead had evaporated. The Pens would hold on from there to beat the Flyers by a score of 5-4 despite being outshot 32-22 by the home team. The Flyers next game is on Saturday against the Boston Bruins.

Game Notes:

  • Did you know that Chris Kunitz is third overall in NHL scoring? You do now. The pesky forward has been on a terror this season playing alongside Sid the kid. He put up two goals and an assist against the Flyers on Thursday
  • Voracek continues to be one of the lone bright spots in what is turning out to be a very disappointing season for the Flyers. With another two goals Thursday, he now has nine in his past eight games
  • If we trace this rivalry back to 2009, the road team is 18-5-1. Quite surprising considering how passionate the fans are about their respective teams. The buildings are never quiet.
  • After a decent start to the season in the category, Bryzgalov has now fallen to 32nd overall in save percentage. His save percentage is now 0.899%
  • This was the first time the Flyers blew a 3-goal lead and lost in regulation since 1993
  • The team falls to 11-13-1 on the year and is last in the Atlantic division. Yes, the Flyers are in trouble
Brady Trettenero

Brady Trettenero

Writer and social/digital media for Hooked on Hockey Magazine. You can follow me on Twitter @BradyTrett.
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