Penguins end long winless streak against Flyers, 4-3
January 21, 2016 10:23 PM
Kris Letang picks up loose puck against the Flyers.
Penguins players celebrate Phil Kessel’s second-period goal Thursday against the Flyers at Consol Energy Center.
Sidney Crosby breaks away from Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas.
Sidney Crosby is tied up by Flyers defenseman Nick Schultz in the first period.
By Dave Molinari / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Marc-Andre Fleury says he hadn’t been aware that the Penguins had lost eight games in a row to Philadelphia before Thursday night.
That means he probably didn’t realize they had beaten the Flyers just twice in 13 all-time regular-season meetings at Consol Energy Center, either.
But Fleury was all too aware of at least one thing: How close the Penguins came to losing their grip on what became a 4-3 victory against the Flyers.
For as the final seconds of regulation were winding down, Fleury was on his stomach in the Penguins’ crease, prepared to use anything available — stick, glove, leg pad, random body part — to stop any puck launched toward him.
With the help of some teammates, it worked.
“It was a little exciting,” Fleury said. “There were people everywhere. I was hoping a lot. That’s not the best position to be in.”
Neither is being down, 2-0, at the first intermission, but that’s where the Penguins found themselves after the Flyers got power-play goals from Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek in the opening period.
Although the Penguins began the evening with the sixth-ranked penalty-kill in the league, Philadelphia dissected them for a pair of man-advantage goals in a total of 51 seconds.
“Obviously, the two power-play goals, they really stung us in the first,” Penguins forward Eric Fehr said. “Our penalty-kill has to be a little bit better. I don’t think we were ready the way we should’ve been.”
Neither was most of the rest of their game. After a fairly solid first few minutes, the Penguins were dominated for much of the period.
“Again, we shot ourselves in the foot with our start,” Fleury said.
Coach Mike Sullivan agreed that the Penguins’ wounds were self-inflicted, a point he made during the intermission.
“I just told them I didn’t think we played hard enough,” Sullivan said. “We didn’t have enough guys with a high enough compete level to have success. To their credit, they responded the right way.”
And, in a big way, especially when the Penguins had an extra man.
Trevor Daley sliced the Flyers’ lead in half with a power-play goal at 1:40 of the second, and Sidney Crosby tied it with at even-strength goal at 7:29.
Phil Kessel put the Penguins in front to stay with another man-advantage goal at 14:06, then got what proved to be the winner at 6:20 of the third.
“The way we responded in the second was great,” right winger Patric Hornqvist said. “We came out like a new team.
“We were flying. We were working. We were getting pucks to the net. And we got rewarded.”
The victory raised the Penguins’ record to 22-17-7 and lifted them into ninth place in the Eastern Conference.
Left winger Chris Kunitz left the game with about eight minutes left, after he slammed back-first into the boards following a collision with Flyers center Claude Giroux.
There was no immediate word on the nature or severity of his injury.
Losing Kunitz would be a significant blow to the Penguins; losing another game to the Flyers — especially one on home ice — might have been even more of a setback.
This isn’t one of those rivalries ginned up to accommodate a TV programming format; these teams genuinely dislike one another, and it shows every time they share a slab of ice.
“You can feel it in the building when these games are going on,” Crosby said.
“It's intense. It's emotional. It's a great environment.
“These are the fun ones. They’re all fun, but these ones are fun to play in. And much better to win.”
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.
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