Flyers Push Penguins to the Brink

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Heading into Sunday’s Game 3, the Penguins had outscored the Flyers 6-1 n the first period. It looked like the trend would continue Sunday as the Flyers once again allowed the first goal of the game. Jordan Staal broke down the right wing and took a shot that goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov got a piece of with his left shoulder, but the puck trickled down his back and went into the net.

The Flyers once again came from behind with a vengeance. This time they only waited 2:52 after Staal’s goal instead of waiting until head coach Peter Laviolette called a timeout to do so. Maxime Talbot planted himself to the right of Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and backhanded a shot that Fleury appeared to have, but it somehow trickled past him and into the net to tie the game at 1-1.

Danny Briere, who has been the Flyers’ best player come playoff time ever since they signed him as a free agent in 2007, did what he does best, scoring on the power play. Scott Hartnell had the puck to the left of Fleury but realized he didn’t have a shot and passed the puck cross-ice to Briere at the right faceoff circle. He almost didn’t have enough time as Fleury came across, but Briere’s shot beat Fleury and the Flyers took the lead 2-1 and never looked back.

Briere was at it again while on a 3-on-2 with Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn. As Schenn came across the blueline, he passed to Simmonds while Briere went to the net. Simmonds passed to Briere who got behind the defense and put a shot past Fleury for a 3-1 lead.

James Neal scored to get the Penguins to within a goal, but rookie Matt Read scored his first of the playoffs 23 seconds later when he and Briere went behind the Penguins net while Briere didn’t realize the puck was still at his feet. Read came to his rescue and scooped the puck up and came in front of the net to fire a shot past Fleury to finish off the scoring in a wild first period. Oddly enough it was someone other than Laviolette to call a timeout during a hockey game. After Read’s goal Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma made it happen to settle his team down.

The nastiness was ramped up from the start of the game but nothing like when Kimmo Timonen got into a fight that was originally started with Claude Giroux. Both teams combined for six roughing minors, four fighting majors and two game misconducts.

Both teams had two goals each in the second period. Evgeni Malkin came down the left wing boards on the power play and saw Neal coming down the slot, and Neal blasted Malkin’s pass by Bryzgalov to get the Penguins to within a goal, 4-3. Jaromir Jagr made the Pens pay on a power play as he skated into the right faceoff circle and fired a pass over to the left faceoff circle, where Read blasted a one-timer by Fleury to give the Flyers another two goal lead.

Staal got his second goal of the game on a week shot from Neal at the right point on a 3-on-4. As the puck trickled by Bryzgalov it hit the post and Staal tapped in the rebound to make the score 5-4. But it would be the closest the Penguins got the rest of the game. Simmonds scored on the power play with 45.8 seconds left in the second period when he took a long feed from Brayden Coburn at the right side of the blueline and broke in on Fleury before cutting to the middle of the ice behind the Penguins defense and backhanding his shot past Fleury.

Talbot and Claude Giroux finished off the scoring and quite possibly the Penguins in the series if Pittsburgh can’t play better defense and get better goaltending from Fleury, who was pulled for backup Brent Johnson in the third period. Malkin and Crosby will have to concentrate on hockey rather than picking fights if they are to have a chance the rest of the series. So far the Penguins are playing into the Flyers’ hands and Philadelphia is making the Pens pay on special teams. The Flyers have five power play goals and three shorthanded goals.

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