Monday, April 16, 2012

Round One, Game Three: Penguins vs. Flyers Recap

When these two teams are good, the reasons for why are usually consistent for both teams. The Pittsburgh Penguins have had success in their history by having highly skilled players. The Philadelphia Flyers have drawn their success from playing on the edge of dirty and pushing teams to their limits. Well the roles have switched. At least in this series where the Flyers have been the ones with all the skill while the Penguins are resorting to acting like goons.

The first goal curse for the Penguins continued in this game. Jordan Staal put the Penguins on the board first and that is the last lead they would have in the game. Max Talbot scored on a soft shorthanded goal allowed by Marc-Andre Fleury at the 6:44 mark of the first period and it was all downhill from there. Fleury was obviously angry with allowing the easy goal. And the team as a whole became undisciplined. Danny Briere scored two goals in a matter of 3:26 and that's when things got out of hand.

Shortly after Briere's goal, a big scrum occurred on the ice. Sidney Crosby and Claude Giroux, two superstars with concussions mind you, decided to fight. While that was going on, Kris Letang and Kimmo Timonen also fought and were each tossed out of the game for it. Two minutes after that, Brayden Schenn hit Paul Martin with a relatively clean hit that was deemed a charge. Arron Asham jumped Schenn, crosschecking him up high in the chest and then sucker punching him in the back of the head while he was down. Asham was also tossed from the game.

The thuggery did spark some life into the Pens, at least temporarily. James Neal scored to cut it to a one goal game. But Matt Read scored just 23 seconds later to extend the lead back to two going into the first intermission.

The second period was the calmest that the game was ever going to get. Midway through the period, Neal scored again to cut the lead back to one. However, Chris Kunitz ended up being the goat of the period. He took two offensive zone penalties, each at times when the Penguins were only down one and the Flyers made them pay each time. Read scored his second goal during the first power play. Wayne Simmonds scored on the second one after Staal notched another goal to keep the differential at two.

The ugliness continued again in the third period. Giroux and Talbot each scored in the period after Brent Johnson replaced Fleury to put the game out of reach but unfortunately that wasn't the story. Neal left his feet on a hit to Sean Couturier which left him injured on the ice. While going to the box, he was confronted by Simmonds. While all that was going on, Crosby got tangled up with Scott Hartnell. Craig Adams jumped in and started punching Hartnell. They eventually fought fair but Adams was the one to be tossed from the game.

This is exactly what the Flyers wanted. They have done an excellent job at getting under the skin of the Penguins all year. The Penguins have let it get the best of them and this game was the sum of all of it. At least two players will likely hear from the league for their dirty acts in the game. And being shorthanded in game four will surely make it even easier for the Flyers to complete the sweep.

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