How fitting is it that Scott Hartnell scored the goal last night against the Penguins (in Pittsburgh) that may have saved the division title for the Flyers?
Just when it looked as though the Flyers were gearing up to sleepwalk through another game in their free fall from the top, the most despised player in Pittsburgh scores a game shifting goal to start a string of four unanswered goals putting Philly in a more spacious lead at the top of the Atlantic.
Hartnell didn't score the game-winner, but his goal did seem to wake the team up as Claude Giroux scored the eventual game-winner only forty-seven seconds later. A pair of goals from Ville Leino in the third and Philly now has a four point lead in the division with a game in hand over Pittsburgh. Philly also has a three point lead in the conference over Washington, a team over which they also have a game in hand.
The week didn't start out well for the Orange and Black as they fell 2-1 in a shootout Thursday night against the same Pens' team they beat last night. It took a Chris Kunitz shot through Sergei Bobrovsky's five-hole in the fourth round of the shootout to give the Pens the crucial additional point.
Two days later, the Flyers beat up on the New York Islanders like they usually do with a score of 4-1 in Uniondale. A James van Riemsdyk hat trick was enough for Philly to put away the Isles for a fifth straight time this season. Bobrovsky had 36 saves on 37 shots.
The following night, the Flyers displayed another lackluster performance against Boston losing 2-1 in front of their home crowd. A late power-play goal from none other than Brad Marchand with 3:43 left in regulation gave Boston enough to slip by.
When you factor in last night's result with the previous three games this week, Philly went 2-1-1. The record doesn't suggest panic, but the play the Flyers have provided states otherwise. However, last night's win looked like a confidence-boosting result. Hopefully Peter Laviolette's boys have worked out of their lazy, non-offense producing ways that have consumed them over the past few weeks.
JVR had the strongest offensive performance of the week for Philly potting his first career hat trick against the Isles on Saturday. He also had an assist against Pittsburgh on Thursday and an assist against Boston.
Those are not the most impressive of numbers, but when you consider the source, a three-assist week is a solid string of games for Sean O'Donnell. After assisting on JVR's second goal on Saturday, O'Donnell posted two assists last night against the Pens -- including the primary helper on the Giroux game-winner.
The Flyers have a busy week taking on four conquerable opponents.
Closing out March with a home game against the Thrashers tomorrow night, the Flyers travel to Newark to finish off their season series with the Devils on Friday. Sunday features yet another nationally-televised matinee game with the Rangers, but this time from the comfort of home. The week ends with a trip to Ottawa to play the lowly Sens.
Pittsburgh Penguins: 3-1-0. The record reads three wins in four games, but the Pens could have easily lost each game they played this week. Notching wins against Philly, New Jersey, and Florida all via shootout, the Pens only loss on the week was to the orange and black last night.
A strong third period effort resulted in no game-winning goal as the Pens needed a four-round shootout to edge out the unmotivated Flyers.
The next day, the Pens barely managed to get two points yet again. This time, the win came against a team outside of the playoff picture. With no goals netted during regulation or overtime, James Neal won the game with his third-round shootout goal.
Beating the Panthers 2-1 on Sunday, the Pens won their fourth straight game via shootout. Neal and Alexei Kovalev scored the shootout goals this time to give Pittsburgh the additional point.
Finally snapping their winning streak based on nothing but shootout victories, the Flyers handed Pittsburgh a devastating 5-2 loss in front of their home fans. Ironically, the Pens last loss in regulation was also 5-2 (3/20 against the Rangers).
In a week that only saw his team net four goals, Tyler Kennedy had two of them. Both coming against Philly, Kennedy scored the game-tying goal in Thursday's game and briefly gave his team a lead in the second period of last night's game.
Kovalev only had two points this week, but he played a pivotal role in his team's success. Scoring shootout goals against Philly on Thursday and Florida on Sunday, Kovalev also assisted on Ben Lovejoy's goal against the Panthers. His only goal of the week opened the scoring in last night's game against the Flyers.
Not scoring a single goal in regulation, Neal gave his team two victories this week scoring the game-winning goal in both Friday's and Sunday's games. Neal also assisted on Lovejoy's goal against Florida.
After visiting Tampa Bay tomorrow night, the Pens stay in Florida to take on the Panthers on Saturday. They finish off the week hosting the Devils on Tuesday night.
New York Rangers: 1-0-1. After dropping a shootout at home to Ottawa, the Rangers shut out the Bruins in Boston to capture three of the possible four points this week.
Not a single Ranger was able to find the back of the net in the five-round shootout that ensued after the 1-1 tie at the end of regulation Thursday against the Sens. Finally, Eric Karlsson slipped one past Henrik Lundqvist to give Ottawa the additional point.
Two days later, Derek Stepan netted the game-winning goal before seven minutes had passed in regulation. This was all the offense Lundqvist needed to give New York the win as the visiting Rangers won 1-0.
Without a doubt the Ranger of the week was Lundqvist. Managing to lose a game when only allowing one goal all week, Lundqvist stopped fifty-five of fifty-six shots fired at his net. His shutout on Saturday gave Lundqvist his league-leading eleventh shutout.
Brandon Prust had the lone Rangers' goal in Thursday's game on Thursday.
After a light two-game week, the Rangers endure four games over the next seven days. After a trip to Buffalo tonight, the Rangers visit Long Island tomorrow to take on the Islanders. Two days later, the Rangers make a trip to Philly to play the Flyers in a nationally televised matinee game. The week ends for the Rangers at home against the Bruins on Monday night.
New Jersey Devils: 0-1-1. The Devils managed to gain a point this week despite registering a goal all week. Falling to the Pens in a shootout on Friday, the Devils couldn't rebound against the Sabres on Saturday dropping the game on the road in regulation.
Sixty minutes of regulation plus five minutes of overtime, and three rounds of a shootout didn't see a single Devils' shot cross the goal line. A Neal goal in the third round of the shootout gave Pittsburgh the additional point on Friday. The Devils only managed a single shot in the first period.
Despite out shooting the Sabres in the second and third periods, the Devils first period cost them another valuable two points on Saturday. First period goals from Nathan Gerbe and Thomas Vanek were the only goals on the night as Buffalo held on for a 2-0 win at home.
Usually highlighting the offensive side of things for New Jersey, this week Ilya Kovalchuk embarrassed his club. Being on the ice for both of the goals scored against his team this week, Kovalchuk went -2 and registered one shot all week.
The road ahead looks to only get harder for the Devils as they have three games against teams in playoff position this week. After hosting the Islanders tonight, the Devils watch the Flyers visit The Prudential Center on Friday and the Canadiens visit on Saturday. New Jersey wraps up the week with a visit to Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.
New York Islanders: 0-2-0. Being out scored in the first period by a combined score of 4-1, the Islanders found themselves on the losing side of both of their games this week. After dropping their home game to Atlanta on Thursday, the Isles were tricked into another loss on Saturday against the Flyers.
John Tavares leveled the game at one a minute and thirty-eight seconds into the second period on Thursday, but the Islanders couldn't find a way to edge out a win. Just over twelve minutes later, former Islander Rob Schremp stuck it to his old team with the game-winning goal to let his Atlanta team win 2-1.
Saturday's match up against the Flyers couldn't have been fun for Islanders' fans. Losing to Philly for the twentieth time in the last twenty-one meetings, witnessing a JVR hat-trick, and being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs summed up the Isles night as New York saw their second home loss on the week by a score of 4-1.
Not a single Islander registered more than a point this week. Blake Comeau scored in the first period of the Isles' game on Saturday to give them a brief period of hope before JVR's second goal on the night put Philly back up by two goals.
A visit to North Jersey tonight is the only time the Islanders leave New York this week as they host the Rangers on Thursday and the Hurricanes on Saturday.
Playing their best game since last Tuesday's shootout loss to Washington, the Flyers scored four straight goals to top the Pens 5-2 in Pittsburgh tonight.
Ville Leino led the attack with three points scoring two goals in the third period and assisting on another earlier tally. Scott Hartnell had a goal and an assist as Sergei Bobrovsky made 25 saves to give Philly their fourth win of the season against Pittsburgh.
After exchanging powerplay opportunities earlier in the period, Alexei Kovalev opened the scoring on a 2-on-1 opportunity. Taking the puck in from the blue line, Kovalev acted as if he was going to pass it cross ice but instead ripped it blocker side as Bobrovsky stood stone in the crease. Kovalev's 16th gave Pittsburgh the 1-0 lead 12 minutes and 22 seconds into the game.
Rebounding quickly, for a change as of late, Jeff Carter watched a pinball shot finally cross the goal-line to tie the game at one. As a power-play opportunity wound down, Braydon Coburn boomed a shot from the right point. Carter apparently deflected the puck off the right post, then watched it bounce back to hit Marc-Andre Fleury's right skate and roll into the net for his 35th goal on the season.
The remaining four minutes and four seconds in the first period saw the Flyers out shoot Pittsburgh 2-0, but they couldn't register another goal to gain the lead.
The second period saw the Pens gain a 2-1 lead thanks to a soft goal by Bobrovsky. After receiving a pass from Brooks Orpik for a 2-on-1 opportunity, Tyler Kennedy took a wrist shot that somehow snuck its way under Bob's right pad and across the goal-line for his 19th on the season. Bob's error was his first shaky moment of the night.
A problem with the Flyers lately has been lack of success on the power play and lack of driving to the net. Both were fulfilled with Scott Hartnell's power-play goal on Philly's third man advantage on the night. With Paul Martin in the box for interference, Hartnell drove from the right side of the crease and slammed home the puck between Fleury's right arm and hip for his 21st on the year.
Forty-seven seconds later, Claude Giroux gave Philly their first lead of the game. After Sean O'Donnell fed him the puck from the left boards a couple strides inside the blue line, Giroux drove to the slot and cut to the right before letting a shot fly over Fleury's blocker for his 25th goal on the season.
Thanks to that burst, the Flyers headed into the final twenty minutes with a lead and the chance to grab a crucial two points. With victory in sight, Leino answered the call.
At the 5 1/2-minute mark of the third period, Leino was able to redirect a Hartnell shot at the left post past Fleury for his 18th goal on the season and a Flyers' 4-2 lead.
Just over 3 minutes later, Leino put in his second goal of the period to give the Flyers a three-goal edge. As both Danny Briere and Leino fought for the puck behind the net, Briere eventually passed it to Leino standing just in front of the right post.
Gaining control of the puck after a rebound from his first shot, Leino managed to pop the puck up and over Fleury and over the goal line before Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek swept it out.
Despite giving Pittsburgh three power-play opportunities after scoring their final goal, Philly hung onto their three-goal lead to win 5-2.
The Flyers may have had some lucky bounces tonight, but they've managed to outplay Pittsburgh all year long. Winning all three games in Pittsburgh, Philly's only losses to their cross-state rivals on the year was a 5-1 thumping in the midst of their only three-game losing streak on the year back in mid-October and barely losing in a home shootout 2-1 Thursday.
Being in an offensive drought since their last game against Pittsburgh, both Giroux and Leino stepped up today. Along with two takeaways, Giroux had three shots on net, one of which resulted in the game-winning goal halfway through the second period. Leino, in addition to his two third period goals, also had the primary assist on Hartnell's power-play goal.
This was a big win for the Flyers as they widened their lead in the division from two points to four. Along with adding on to the divisional lead, the Flyers also gained a point on Washington tonight as the Caps lost in a shootout to Carolina.
Notes: The Flyers win marks the first time since 1983-84 (4-0-0) the club has gone unbeaten and untied during the regular season in the Steel ity...They've beaten Pittsburgh four times in the regular season for the first time since 2007-2008....Kovalev's first period goal was his 33rd regular season goal against the Flyers in his career...Briere recorded his 30th assist on the season on Coburn's first period goal...Kennedy had four goals in six games against Philly this year...O'Donnell posted his first two-assist game since November 18th against Tampa Bay....The Flyers went 4-1-1 against the Penguins in the 2010-2011 regular season and are now 16-3-2 against the Atlantic division (PIT 4-1-1, NYR 4-1-0, NJD 3-1-1, NYI 5-0-0).
Game 76: Philadelphia Flyers @ Pittsburgh Penguins, 7:00 pm, CSN.
Overall Record: 45-20-10
Away Record: 24-9-4
Record vs. Penguins: 3-1-1
Away Record vs. Penguins: 2-0-0
Overall Record: 45-23-8
Home Record: 24-13-2
Record vs. Flyers: 2-3-0
Home Record vs. Flyers: 0-2-0
Flyers' Winning % vs. Penguins: .600, 3/5 games (17th)
Flyers' Point % vs. Penguins: .700, 7/10 pts (16th)
Flyers' Losing % vs. Penguins: .400, 2/5 games (14th)
Flyers' Goals/Game vs. Penguins: 2.20, 11 goals/5 games (22nd)
Penguins' Goals/Game vs. Flyers: 2.40, 12 goals/5 games (14th)
Flyers' Shots/Game vs. Penguins: 27.6, 138 shots/ 5 games (27th)
Penguins' Shots/Game vs. Flyers: 27, 135 shots/5 games (20th)
Flyers' Powerplay % vs. Penguins: 17.4%, 4/23 (13th)
Penguins' Powerplay % vs. Flyers: 24%, 6/25 (11th)
Flyers' Penalty Kill % vs. Penguins: 76%, 19/25 (18th)
Penguins' Penalty Kill % vs. Flyers: 82.6%, 19/23 (17th)
Flyers' Team LeadersPoints- Claude Giroux, 70
Goals- Jeff Carter, 34
Assists- Claude Giroux, 46
+/- - Andrej Meszaros and Jeff Carter, +27
PIM- Scott Hartnell, 132
Penguins' Team LeadersPoints- Sidney Crosby, 66
Goals- Sidney Crosby, 32
Assists- Kris Letang, 40
+/- - Sidney Crosby, +20
PIM- Matt Cooke, 129
Former Penguins Currently On The Flyers
Former Flyers Currently On the Penguins
#19 Mike Comrie
Current Season Against The Flyers: 3 games, 0 goals, and 2 assists.
Current Season With The Penguins: 18 games, 0 goals, and 5 assists.
Career With The Flyers: 1 season (2003-2004), 21 games, 4 goals, and 5 assists.
#45 Arron Asham
Current Season Against The Flyers: 3 games, 0 goals, and 0 assists.
Current Season With The Penguins: 40 games, 5 goals, and 5 assists.
Career With The Flyers: 2 seasons (2008-2009 and 2009-2010), 179 games, 23 goals, and 30 assists.
Flyers' 3-2 win in Pittsburgh on October 7th
Penguins' 5-1 win in Philly on October 16th
Flyers' 3-2 win in Pittsburgh on October 29th
Flyers' 3-2 win in Philly on December 14th
Penguins 2-1 shootout win in Philly on March 24th
Another lackadaisical and passionless effort from the Flyers resulted in another loss for Philly tonight as the Bruins edged out a 2-1 win. Brad Marchand's power-play goal with three minutes and forty-three seconds left in regulation gave Boston their only lead of the night. Tim Thomas helped to shut down the Flyers tonight by saving twenty-seven of twenty-eight shots. The loss is the Flyers' third in four games and drops Philly to 45-20-10 on the season.
The opening minutes saw a lot of action in the Flyers' defensive zone. However, Kris Versteeg helped the Flyers get on the scoreboard first. As James van Riemsdyk hustled around the boards for a loose puck, it bounced out to the top of the slot where Mike Richards perfected a slap pass to Versteeg. Placing the puck in a wide open net from the bottom of the circle to the right of Thomas, Versteeg had his twentieth of the year and a 1-0 Flyers lead.
Just over five minutes later, Versteeg found himself in the penalty box for holding. The Bruins' provided several chances, but they experienced their only powerplay on the night where they didn't register a goal.
Under the two minute mark in the first period, Patrice Bergeron was sent to the sin bin for hooking Richards in the slot. The Flyers couldn't increase their lead to two with their only powerplay on the night as the scored remained 1-0 Philly with twenty-two seconds left on the man advantage.
Although the shot count was even, the Flyers spent a majority of the first period in their defensive zone. After a Boston clear to open the period killed off the remaining time on the Philly powerplay, the Flyers had some of their best chances of the game. Continuing his strong performance, JVR presented a beautiful set up to Versteeg as he handed him the puck past the Boston defense for a breakaway. Thomas stoned Versteeg's opportunity and kept it a one-goal game.
After the Flyers brief surge, the Bruins started dictating play leading to a Blair Betts penalty. With one of the Flyers best penalty killers in the box for tripping, the Bruins made the Flyers pay with the equalizing goal. Nathan Horton wasted no time on the man advantage slamming home a rebound on a Tomas Kaberle shot just four seconds into the powerplay.
The damage had been done, but Boston was not finished applying their hustle and forecheck. After Boston's goal, the Bruins out shot the Flyers 9-2 for the remaining twelve minutes and twenty seconds in the second period. When one factors in one of the Flyers two shots was Richards just before the clock ran out, it's easy to see how bad Boston was outplaying Philly.
Heading into the third period, the Flyers still had the opportunity to erase their mistakes and grab two points with the win. Unwilling to put forth any effort or caring, the Flyers spent much of the third not completing passes and turning the puck over their own defensive zone. A few chances arose, but none that really should have resulted in goals.
The Bruins, however, took full advantage of their big break in the final twenty minutes. As Richards was sent off to the box for high-sticking after Kaberle over exaggerated a stick that hit his chest, Marchand put in the Bruins' second power-play goal on the evening. Putting home a Dennis Seidenberg rebound, Marchand gave his team a one-goal lead with three minutes and forty-three seconds left.
Unable to pull off what so many teams have done to them this season, the Flyers couldn't post an extremely late game goal as they watched Boston skate to a 2-1 victory to clinch a playoff berth.
For the second time in three games, the Flyers played with no heart. With the exception of yesterday, when they played the lowly Islanders, the Flyers haven't displayed much passion or hustle in games where they need to prove they can beat the opposition. It's true the orange and black have already clinched a playoff spot, but losing games to potential playoff opponents results in nothing but a lack of confidence heading into April.
Brian Boucher did what was expected of him for most of the night, but two rebounds led to both of Boston's goals. The plays weren't necessarily his fault, but the defense and/or Boucher need to take blame for two goals that came on an open man in, or just outside of, the crease.
Notes: Versteeg's goal gives the Flyers six 20-goal scorers; JVR has 19 goals and Ville Leino has 17. Thomas only allowed one goal in Philly this year; other game was a 3-0 shutout on December 1st. Matt Carle had four shots tonight, all of which were blocked. Claude Giroux had 4 of the Flyers' 19 giveaways tonight; Boston had seven altogether. From the time of Horton's goal til nine minutes into the third period, a span of twenty-one minutes and forty seconds, the Flyers were out shot 18-6. The Flyers went 1-3-0 against the Bruins in the 2010-2011 regular season and are now 11-7-0 against the Northeast division (BOS 1-3-0, MTL 3-1-0, BUF 2-1-0, TOR 3-1-0, OTT 2-1-0).
James van Riemsdyk helped the Flyers end a two-game skid tonight by recording his first career hat-trick as Philly rolled to a 4-1 win over the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.
In addition to JVR's three-goal night, both Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux had two points on Saturday. Scoring the opening goal, Carter assisted on JVR's hat-trick tally in the third while Giroux posted two assists. Sergei Bobrovsky notched his second straight one-goal game, saving 36 of 37 on the night.
The win pushed the Flyers over the 100-point mark on the season as their record sits at 45-19-10. The Orange and Black head home Sunday to face Northeast-leading Boston with a two-point lead over Washington in the race for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
All season long, there's been a bit of bad blood between these two teams. The opening minute of tonight's game illustrated this point with Daniel Carcillo dropping the gloves with Micheal Haley two seconds into the game and Sean O'Donnell mixing it up with Zenon Konopka nineteen seconds later. Neither team showed a sign of gaining momentum after the scraps.
Minutes after the brawling, Carter went to the box for holding. As the penalty time expired, he made up for his mistake breaking the scorless tie just over eight minutes into the game. After Giroux won a face-off to Rick DiPietro's right, Carter let a shot rip that found its way to the back of the net for his 34th goal of the season.
It took New Jersey native van Riemsdyk only 22 seconds to turn a one-goal lead into two. Tipping in a Kris Versteeg shot, van Riemsdyk netted his 17th of the season. The goal, coming so shortly after Carter's, seemed as though it was going to make the game a blowout. However, the Isles weren't giving up so quickly.
Blake Comeau put home a backhander at the left post off a Josh Bailey rebound for his 21st of the season and an Islanders' deficit of one just after the midway point of the first. Coming just under two minutes after van Riemsdyk's goal, Comeau put his team right back in the thick of things.
Unfortunately for Comeau and company, JVR's second goal of the period came within the next three minutes giving Philly another two-goal lead. JVR's 18th of the year gave him his first two-goal game since December 15th, and came after he was perfectly positioned on the left wing to tap-in an Andrej Meszaros misfire from the right wing that rebounded off the back boards with 6:35 left before intermission.
The Flyers eventually found themselves with a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes, a lead they wouldn't cough up.
Picking up his second infraction on the night, Carter was sent off for slashing 7:35 into the middle period. Unable to produce a goal with the man advantage, the Islanders still trailed Philly by two goals.
Minutes later, Kimmo Timonen found himself in the box for a questionable cross checking call. For the fourth time on the night, the Isles power-play unit couldn't find the back of the net.
Bobrovsky outplayed his counterpart in Rick DiPietro for the second straight period. After outsaving DiPietro 16-11 in the first period, Bobrovsky made fifteen in the second -- including a diving stop on Kyle Okposo after a defensive miscommunication produced a 2-on-none break in close.
DiPietro only had to keep four shots out of his net as the Islanders were on the attack.
A rather boring first half of the third period ended after van Riemsdyk's third goal on the night. With Radek Martinek sitting in the sin bin for holding, JVR was the benefactor of a lucky bounce that saw the puck slide to him standing wide open in the low slot. Taking advantage, van Riemsdyk blasted home his 19th of the season through DiPietro's pads to give the visitors a 4-1 advantage.
With the game essentially over, Matt Martin displayed his frustration with his team trailing 4-1 in the third by fighting O'Donnell. Three minutes hadn't passed before Martin engaged in a fight that resulted in nothing but useless punches finding O'Donnell's back.
The final eight minutes in regulation went eventless as the Flyers beat the Islanders for the fifth time this season.
Looking for a way to wake up their teammates, both Carcillo and O'Donnell helped to amp up the Flyers tonight. Fighting very early in the game helped to set the game's tone and helped the Flyers ramp up their energy level. If they had not fought tonight, tonight's big story might be the Flyers giving up the lead in the conference.
Bobrovsky had his second strong start in a row providing two fifteen-save periods. After being the only reason the Flyers gained a point on Thursday, Bobrovsky came through with several big saves tonight. Bob needs to have performances similar to tonight's and Thursday's game if the Flyers want to see the deeper rounds of the playoffs.
Notes: The Flyers have won 20 of their last 21 meetings with the Islanders outscoring them 76-39 in that span...JVR's hat trick was his first in 145 career games...Tonight's win was the Flyers first game that hadn't reached overtime since their 3-2 decision in Florida on March 15th...O'Donnell had his first two fight night since Philly's 6-2 loss in Vancouver on December 28th...The Flyers reached the 100-point plateau for the first time since the 2005-2006 season (101 pts, 45-26-11) and for the 18th time in franchise history...The Flyers are now 5-0-0 against the Islanders on the season and upped their record to 15-3-2 against the Atlantic division (PIT 3-1-1, NYR 4-1-0, NJD 3-1-1).