Photo credit: Amy Irvin (38Photography)
Claude Giroux scored the game winning goal, on the power play, with just 1:03 remaining in overtime, to give the Flyers a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tuesday night in South Philadelphia.
Luke Schenn and Chris VandeVelde also scored for the Flyers. Michael Del Zotto, Vincent Lecavalier, Jakub Vorack and Mark Streit all recorded assists. Ray Emery had his strongest performance in weeks, earning the first star of the game, as he stopped 33/35 Penguin shots. The Flyers have now won two of their last three games, as they head into the All-Star break.
Chris Kunitz and Beau Bennett lit the lamp for Pittsburgh. Evgeni Malkin and Nick Spaling each notched assists. Thomas Greiss was stellar in net for Pittsburgh with 37 saves.
There is something about the Pittsburgh Penguins that brings out the fight, literally, in the Flyers. Philadelphia, literally and figuratively limped into their Tuesday night rivalry tilt with cross-state rival Pittsburgh, once again lived up to the billing of a “knock down, drag ‘em out” fight. This was not a hockey game.
The first period started, as it were to be expected, with the Flyers on their heels, taking the Penguins best shot. The Flyers could not get any offense going, as they failed to record a shot in the first 10-plus minutes of the game. The Pens, on the other hand, peppered the Flyers with 17 first period shots, but were held off the scoreboard by Emery.
Despite just three shots on net, Luke Schenn proved it’s not about the quantity, but rather the quality, as he beat Thomas Greiss with a weak wrist shot from just inside the blue line at the 13:11 mark of the period.
The teams would continue to skate before Zac Rinaldo became Zac Rinaldo. Staring at Penguin’s Kris Letang’s numbers, Rinaldo skated and hit the Pens defenseman from behind. Rinaldo was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct, but more important, set the scene for what would become a wild second period, and transform a hockey game into a brawl.
The fireworks in the second period started almost immediately, as Michael Raffl and Chris Sill dropped the gloves. The fight would lead to an early second period power play for the Flyers, but it was Pittsburgh that benefitted, as Chris Kunitz notched his 14th goal of the season, a shorthanded tally, to tie the game at one a piece.
Kunitz’s goal would be the last bit of hockey played in the second period, as the Flyers and Pens would continue to square off. Led by the Raffl-Sill tilt, Jake Voracek would follow suit after a clean hip check by Rob Scuderi upended the star winger. Voracek would receive a ten-minute misconduct for his beat down of the Pens defenseman.
Not even two minutes following the Voracek-Scudari fight; former Flyer Steve Downie would attempt to stand toe-to-toe with Luke Schenn, who would thoroughly demolish Downie.
The final fight of the second period was perhaps the quickest, as Pierre-Edouard Bellemare would square off against Bobby Farnham. Farnham, called up from the AHL specifically for this game, would not last long, as Bellemare, not known for fighting, caught Farnham flush on the chin, dropping the enforcer.
The second period would end with nary a whimper and the goal of getting back to hockey in the third period.
Hockey would be indeed what was on the table in the third period, as the Penguins quickly took the lead on a Beau Bennett goal. Bennett’s third goal of the season at 2:01, came on a patient play by Evgeni Malkin, as he waited for Flyer defenseman Michael Del Zotto to slide passed him in his attempt to disrupt the play. Del Zotto failed and Malkin found Bennett all alone along the left side for an empty net goal, as Emery could not get over in time.
Just over two minutes later, the Flyers soon-to-be first line winger Chris VandeVelde scored his sixth of the season, and his third goal in the last three games, off a redirection from Del Zotto.
Of course sixty minutes would not be enough to decide the winner, as the Flyers and Penguins would head to overtime. The Orange and Black would need two power plays in the extra session to eventually beat the Pens, as captain Claude Giroux found a loose puck in the crease and beat Greiss and the Pens up high to seal the victory.