Penguins fall to Flyers, 4-3, in OT

It has been suggested that dropping the Penguins and Philadelphia onto the same slab of ice is like jamming two scorpions into a bottle.

Two scorpions with anger-management issues.

And a very small bottle.

But perhaps that isn't necessarily the case.

Why, as recently as Saturday, the Flyers did something very thoughtful for the Penguins.

Philadelphia beat them, 4-3, in overtime at Consol Energy Center which, whether or not the Penguins care to acknowledge it, was awfully nice of the Flyers.

After all, it guaranteed that the Penguins won’t have to see the Flyers again until the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Or, possibly, until next season.

That’s significant, because even though the Metropolitan Division champion Penguins are 15 points ahead of third-place Philadelphia — which became locked into a first-round series against the New York Rangers when Mark Streit’s soft backhander skidded between the legs of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury at 2:10 of overtime — the Flyers have won four consecutive games against them.

Scouting report
Matchup: Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators, 7:38 p.m. today, Consol Energy Center.

TV, Radio: Root Sports, WXDX-FM (105.9).

Probable goaltenders: Jeff Zatkoff for Penguins; Craig Anderson for Senators.

Penguins: Are 1-1 vs. Senators. ... Are 14-6-3 vs. Atlantic Division. ... James Neal has three-game points streak (3 goals, 3 assists).

Senators: Were 7-2-1 in 10 games before playing Saturday night at home vs. Toronto. ... Are 4-6-3 on second of back-to-back games. ... Ales Hemsky had eight points (2 goals, 8 assists) in his previous eight games before Toronto game.
Hidden stat: Penguins have 108 points, tied for second in a season in team history.

A few hours after the Penguins were assured that they wouldn't face Philadelphia in Round 1, Columbus defeated Florida, 3-2, to claim the spot opposite the Penguins. Although the schedule won't be released until tonight, early indications are that Game 1 will be Wednesday at Consol Energy Center.

Not, mind you, that the Penguins believe they should have any reason to fear a matchup with Philadelphia, whenever it might happen.

"I'm sure they would tell you they feel comfortable [facing the Penguins], and if that's the way it would work out, that's not something they're going to complain about," center Sidney Crosby said.

"But maybe the law of averages would be on our side if that's the case. We've had some pretty close games. Maybe we'd be able to find a way to get on the winning side."

The chances of that would be greatly enhanced if the Penguins would be able to avoid having the Flyers goad them off their game, which they insist they were able to resist Saturday.

The Penguins were assessed just four minor penalties, two fewer than Philadelphia, and contended the Flyers didn't cause them to lose composure or focus, something that happened with troubling regularity in a few previous meetings.

"If we're not taking undisciplined penalties, I don't think we're off our game," Crosby said. "We have done that in the past. I don't think you can compare [Saturday] to the last two games we played against them.

"We have to be smart, but where do you draw the line? You have to be engaged. It's emotional.

"If you let them run around in a game that doesn't really mean a lot for us, you're probably sending your own team the wrong message."

Make no mistake, both teams delivered a message or two, generally a reminder that they aren't terribly fond of the other.

Penguins forward Jayson Megna, who had all of four penalty minutes in 34 previous games, enraged the Flyers when he knocked defenseman Andrew MacDonald into goalie Steve Mason at 16:27 of the second period.

"I don't see our guys doing that," Flyers coach Craig Berube told reporters, apparently with a straight face.

Mason finished the period, but was replaced by Ray Emery for the third period and overtime because of an unspecified injury.

Berube said "I think he'll be fine," and that he expects Mason to be available for the start of the Rangers series.

Flyers winger Scott Hartnell, meanwhile, leveled Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, in his second game back after missing 26 because of a stroke, with a hit from behind in the third period.

"I got hit from behind," Letang said. "I turned around and it was him. I was not really shocked."

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma referred to a "guy picking on a guy who had a stroke," prompting Berube to respond that, in that case, Letang "shouldn't be out there playing. Bottom line. It's a stupid comment."

Gee, it's almost as if these clubs don't care much for one another, a point they might get a chance to make again in Round 2 of the playoffs.

"They're a good team," Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "Everyone talks about the history between us and them, and they obviously have a good record.

"But after that game [Saturday], I feel better about it."

The Penguins open the playoffs this week against the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. By virtue of their 3-2 win vs. Carolina Saturday night, that team will be the Columbus Blue Jackets -- the first wild card in the conference.

Follow the team with the PG's Icehouse app on iOS or Android. First Published April 12, 2014 6:01 PM

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