Power play fizzles again, losing streak at three
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A gnarly case of the 1970s broke out at modern Consol Energy Center Friday night, with fights and penalties galore as the crowd was still getting situated.
It was an appropriate backdrop for the Penguins and Philadelphia, a bitter rivalry that was dominated by the rough-and-tumble Flyers a couple of generations ago.
The problem for the Penguins this time was, things settled down and they went all 2010 on their way to falling, 3-2, their third loss in row.
Philadelphia didn't have to resort to bullying as it did years before, and, in fact, it was the Penguins who seemed to come away from the early rough stuff -- two fights in the first minute of regulation and 10 penalties in the first four minutes -- with the momentum.
- Matchup: Penguins at Carolina Hurricanes, 7:08 today, RBC Center.
- TV/Radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WXDX-FM (105.9).
- Probable goaltenders: Brent Johnson for Penguins. Cam Ward for Hurricanes.
- Penguins: Are 3-1-1 on road. ... C Sidney Crosby has six goals, 14 assists in eight career games against Carolina. ... Rank near the bottom of the league in away-game giveaways with 42.
- Hurricanes: Will be playing just second home game after opening with seven on the road. ... Ward is 9-3-2, with a 2.39 goals-against average in 14 career games against Penguins. ... Are 1-1 in second game when playing on consecutive nights.
- Hidden stat: Hurricanes had league-worst success rate of 37.1 percent on faceoffs before playing New York Rangers Friday night.
The Flyers, who got a short-handed goal and a power-play goal from Claude Giroux, just waited and capitalized on the same problems that have been plaguing the Penguins this season -- lapses that led to chances the other way, a blown lead and an ineffective power play.
"Talking about playing the right way, and actually doing it and being consistent with it and believing it and throwing the chips all in, that's a different story," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said after his team dropped to .500 at 5-5-1 and is 0 for 20 on the power play in its three-game slide, including 0 for 6 in this game.
Adding injury to insult, Penguins second-line winger Evgeni Malkin left the game midway through the third period with an unspecified injury. There was no update afterward.
In the Penguins' locker room, the players held a 10-minute postgame meeting.
"Guys were saying the truth -- we are not playing well," said defenseman Kris Letang, who opened the scoring at 8:12 of the first period when he drove to the right edge of the crease and finished off the kind of pretty passing play from Malkin and Mike Comrie that highlight the Penguins' skill.
"We all know that we all have the talent to make plays like that, but overall the game didn't really show what we are supposed to do," Letang said.
"The second period we came out flat. We had turnovers. I made a big turnover on their [penalty-killing] goal. We didn't really bounce back after that."
Letang whiffed on a pass at the center point during a power play, and the Flyers' Mike Richards took the puck and raced the other way. Letang raced back and dived to knock the puck away, but Richards caught up with it near the right boards and set up Giroux, who moved down the slot and beat Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to tie the score, 1-1, at 5:20 of the second period.
Philadelphia took a 2-1 lead at 13:34 of the second period when Matt Carle's shot from the left point was tipped in front by Daniel Carcillo, and the puck trickled under Fleury.
Giroux added a power-play goal at 10:43 of the third period to boost the Flyers' lead to 3-1.
The Penguins got the final goal with just 44.6 seconds left in regulation with Fleury pulled. Tyler Kennedy took a nifty backhanded pass from Sidney Crosby and lifted the puck past Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
Bobrovsky made 26 saves to win at the Consol Energy Center for the second time in 22 games after Philadelphia spoiled the arena opening Oct. 7 by the same score.
Fleury made 21 saves, none more spectacular than a glove stop on a point-blank shot by Jeff Carter at 10:32 of the second period while it was tied, 1-1. He fell to 1-5, but this was not a loss that could be pegged on Fleury.
It started out well enough for the Penguins.
The Penguins' Matt Cooke squared off with Flyers captain Mike Richards off of the opening faceoff, 6 seconds into the game, with both players landing several punches.
Eighteen seconds later, in more of a heavyweight fight, the Penguins' Deryk Engelland left Philadelphia enforcer Jody Shelley with a bloody left eye.
That left the crowd roaring, and so did Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy when he put a shoulder-to-shoulder hit on Flyers villain Scott Hartnell at the left hash marks as Hartnell drove down the Penguins zone, sending Hartnell sprawling into the corner. He was slow to get up but remained in the game. There was no penalty on that play.
"We came out with some fire. The physical guys stepped up," Bylsma said. "The building was going."
The Penguins, however, put out their own fire.
First Published October 30, 2010 12:00 am