With the sense of satisfaction you get from beating your main rival in a stomach-punch kinda way as the Penguins did to the Flyers on Monday night at PPG Paints Arena, sometimes it doesn’t all go smooth or cracks appear on the surface.
Such was the case both on and OFF the ice for the Penguins on this night as the club dominated the first twenty minutes, looked like a Canadian Junior team in the middle frame, and then woke up again in a wild third period and overtime to beat Philadelphia 5-4.
Jake Guentzel continued his recent resurgence as his two goals (including the tying goal with 1:04 left in the game and with the net empty) sparked the Penguins before Sidney Crosby does what he always does and finished off the Orange and Black with a dagger of a deflection in overtime.
Matt Murray was injured during the second period when Jake Voracek lost his footing while coming in on a rush. Murray’s right leg was pinned and stretched out against the post. Murray instantly showed the effects of the pain and had to be helped from the ice as the crowd fell into a hush.
Instantly people were calling for heads to roll on social media, but if you get past irrational hate for the Flyers you can easily see that it was a play that happens frequently in the league with Voracek losing an edge. Just an unfortunate circumstance, but in no way a dirty play. Now if that was Radko Gudas………well…….who knows.
The Pens ended period one out shooting Philadelphia 17-10 as they were able to get on their fore-check and control the play from about the 7:00 minute mark of the period and forward. They were rewarded at 16:03 of the period when Justin Schultz hit Guentzel with a nice breakout stretch pass through the neutral zone, Guentzel would take a few strides along the near circle and rip a Mark Recchi style wrister to the blocker side of Brian Elliot to give the home side the lead. A lead they would carry into the locker room.
It was at this point during the game that rumblings about the again-scratched Ian Cole would start to make the rounds through various forms of media. More on that in a bit.
The second period would find the Penguins on the receiving end of what they benefited from on Saturday versus Tampa, the 5-on-3 advantage. With Brian Dumoulin and Olli Maatta in the box 41 seconds apart, Shayne Gostisbehere would find the back of the net quickly to tie the game. Pittsburgh would kill the rest of the penalty time, but it was clear that the momentum had swung in the favor of the Flyers.
Philadelphia would come in waves for the rest of the period, with multiple two-on-one breaks, hitting four posts, and cashing in on two more opportunities before the period was up.
Travis Konecny would give the Flyers the lead right before the Murray injury as his shot rolled just over the goal line as it leaked through the Penguin’s keeper.
So with Tristian Jarry in net now and coming in cold, the Flyers would extend the lead as Sean Couturier took an accidental kick-pass from Claude Giroux and beat Jarry high and to the short side as the Penguins and their fans would enter the second intermission in a rage of dis-belief at how the game and other events had suddenly swung.
Much like the Flyers did in the second, the Pens would get a quick power play with Andrew MacDonald sent off at :40 seconds. Twenty-seven seconds later Patric Hornqvist would shave the lead in half as he would swat at the puck several times after a Guentzel shot and eventually knock the puck in.
The play would be reviewed by Toronto and hold up……then challenged by the Flyers for goalie interference and STILL hold up. On the game’s TV telecast, Mike Sullivan can be seen yelling ‘That’s a stupid challenge!!’ at the Flyers bench. It really was.
Just :39 seconds later, Bryan Rust would equalize the game as he cut in on Elliot and got off a shot that appeared to carom off of Elliot and then Hagg the defenseman, but another look showed that Rust himself batted it in much like Hornqvist did.
PPG Paints Arena was alive and well and the Flyers were blowing leads much the way they had the last seven games including three separate two-goal leads during the losing streak.
The Penguins racked up 19 shots in the third on their way to a game total of 52, so Brian Elliot deserved all of the credit for the Flyers not being run out of the building and back to the Eastern side of the state. And the Flyers damn-near pulled a victory out for him when Michael Raffl made a brilliant individual rush after a terrible turnover from Matt Hunwick. Raffl came along the near boards before cutting in wide on Jarry (who missed a poke check) and tucked the puck into the middle of the wide open net with just under four minutes to go in the game.
As some fans headed towards the exit thinking a highly frustrating loss, the Penguins would get Jarry to the bench for an extra attacker with 1:30-ish to go in the game. The Penguins controlled the puck for a long stretch, and Elliot robbed Crosby with the glove hand as Crosby was set up in the slot and got all of it.
But the very next face off Schultz would put a shot towards Elliot that Guentzel took a stab at and it appeared to hit Elliot’s glove, then Guentzel’s body and fall into the net to tie the game.
To make matters even worse for the Flyers, Voracek would get a delay of game call for a puck over the glass with :14 seconds to go in the period. Sheary would ring the post as time expired and off to extra hockey we would go.
The Pens controlled the puck during the four-on-three man advantage and just as the power play expired, Kris Letang would fire a puck from the point with his head up…..only he wasn’t aiming for the net…..he was aiming for Sidney Crosby’s slightly turned back-stick blade.
…..and good night!
Crosby’s fourth goal in three games as he continues as he always does, to step up when his Superstar partner in crime, Evgeni Malkin goes down. It was also Sid’s second career OT goal against Philly. the other one was Sid’s rookie season when he won the game after losing a couple of teeth. (‘With the game on his stick……..SCOREEEEE!!’ as Doc so famously called it at the time)
Jarry would make eight of ten saves after coming in for Murray.
Pittsburgh would finish 1 for 5 on the power play and Philly went 1 for 4.
The Penguins now get a few days off before traveling to Buffalo on Friday to start a home and home, back-to-back with the Sabres.
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH IAN COLE
With Ian Cole being scratched the last three games and Mike Sullivan noting over the weekend that it was performance based, information started to fly last night that the Penguins are actively and quickly shopping the veteran blue-liner. Pittsburgh has even granted Cole’s agent permission to seek a contract extension with another club for when the trade happens.
Pittsburgh feels as if they cannot and will not be able to afford Cole, who is due a big raise when he hits free-agency after this year. With Chad Ruhwedel playing very well and more rumblings of Cole and Sullivan butting heads recently, look for a trade to happen sooner rather than later.
A false Twitter article saying Cole had been dealt to Edmonton for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins briefly took people’s attention early this morning. The PG reports this morning that Las Vegas, Toronto, and Colorado are in talks for Cole.
Stay tuned to the Sports Castle website and Twitter account for updates on the health of Matt Murray and the roster status of Cole in the next few days. I will be back on Friday for all things Pens/Sabres and thank you, as always, for reading!