2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Fleury, Penguins Hold On, Beat Flyers 3-2
Jordan Staal scored his playoffs-leading sixth goal and Fleury made 24 saves on 26 shots, including 14 in the third, to preserve the win.
The Penguins played postseason defense through the period for the first time in this series and their effort was matched in full and more by Marc-Andre Fleury, whose third-period heroics showcased for the first time the clutch goaltender whom many had assumed had entered the postseason and whom many could not explain through three miserable losses to open the series.
Pittsburgh held on through a scoreless third period to beat the rival Flyers 3-2 in the lowest-scoring game of what had been the highest-scoring postseason series in NHL history.
Matt Carle and Scott Hartnell opened with a pair of power play goals, but the Flyers were shut out on their final three power play opportunities and the Penguins won the even-strength goal-scoring battle once again.
Jordan Staal, Tyler Kennedy and Steve Sullivan scored for Pittsburgh, who have now won two in a row and have sent the series back to Philadelphia for a Game 6, this Sunday.
Staal's goal tied the game in the second period. It was his sixth of the postseason, which leads all goal scorers. Sullivan's second gave him six points in five games, while Kennedy scored his third after experiencing a down scoring year in the regular season.
The story, and the game's first star, was Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury battled off two early PP markers and a late surge by the Flyers to seal the win. He finished with 24 saves on 26 shots, making 14 in the final frame alone.
It was the first conventional game in what had been the wildest playoff series in recent memory. Pittsburgh will look to carry their momentum into Game 6.
If they win and bring the series to a seventh game, it will be the fourth time in as many postseasons that a team has won three in a row after dropping the first three (Chicago, Detroit in 2011, Philadelphia in 2010).
Game 6 is Sunday.
Fleury just saved the Penguins' season.
Penguins hold on, win 3-2.
More coming soon.
Flyers pull Bryz. 1:15. The Lavy timeout. Everything is happening. Huge. Moment of the season, so far.
The Flyers are desperately pushing play right now, and Pittsburgh is hanging on for dear life. While their defense has been markedly better in this situation tonight than in game's past, they still have 5:38 to go.
With a one-goal lead, the energy and tension in the building are off the charts. CONSOL stepping up as a playoff venue bigger than it has in its short life so far.
This might be the most tense stretch of play in the series. Pittsburgh is playing defense but the Flyers are getting their chances. Frankly, the first thing to come out of this series that resembles conventional playoff hockey.
Flower's back, you guys.
Kennedy gets buried on the boards, no call is made and he slashes Hartnell in frustration. Flyers to the PP. Fans here may have a legitimate beef on that one. Hartnell's hit looked dangerous along the boards.
Bryzgalov made a shiny glove save on the slap-fake wrister by James Neal. Keeps it tight as the Pens are pushing play. Philly still coming very close to connecting on the stretch pass, however.
Both teams have played it tight to the vest, so far. Only a few very good scoring chances have arisen, mostly from Pittsburgh's play behind the Philly goal line and Philly's breakout via the stretch pass.
Smart changes and no penalties are Pittsburgh's key, while Philly must continue looking to exploit the plays the Pens have given up all series long.
Also, Stallone as Rocky is making appearances in a get-pumped video on the CONSOL scoreboard, and has been roundly booed each time.
Fans know where his statue is.
The Staal line starts the period with an unreal shift in the Flyers zone. Good sustained time and a lot of play below the net. The Flyers beat up on Pittsburgh beneath goal lines in the first three games. That's a good place for the Penguins to be for a change.
Third period drops.
Somehow, Pittsburgh managed to kill the minor to Malkin and the second period ends 3-2 Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh got two even-strength goals in that period, from Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy. If you're keeping score at home, stop. The internet's awesome for that.
If you are, though, here's how the game looks on the PP and PK.
Flyers leading 2-1 special teams.
Penguins leading 2-1 at even-strength.
It can't be stressed enough how huge that is for the Pens, and somehow Malkin's second terrible penalty of the game managed not to cost his team the lead. Pittsburgh enters the third with a lead, something they haven't had much of at home.
In total, Philadelphia now has 25 goals in four-plus games. Fourteen are of the special teams variety. Pittsburgh, also, has 25 goals. Seventeen have come at even-strength, compared to just 11 for the Flyers.
The third period needs to be Pittsburgh's most disciplined period of their season if they wish to take the series back to Philadelphia.
After a long stretch of five-on-five, Malkin takes an interference minor late in the second. Flyers power play.
If the Pens kill this, the momentum swing will be huge. If not, Flyers are right back in it, and not just on the scoreboard.
Tyler Kennedy lets rip a sling-dinger and it's 3-2 Pittsburgh.
I believe sling-dinger is the official term. Either way, the team is FEASTING on the energy created by the Staal goal. Things rolling Pittsburgh's way after a rough first.
Kennedy's jump into the boards after that goal would have made Ovi blush.
It's hard to look at this series and say that Jordan Staal hasn't been the Penguins' best player. Staal receives a beautifully redirected pass at the blueline and coming in 2-on-1, takes the shot and beats Bryzgalov short side.
It's his sixth of the playoffs, leading the NHL
In-arena folks announced the largest-ever crowd at CONSOL Energy Center and 254th straight home sellout game.
Fleury chants erupt as the Flower stones a 2-on-1 Flyers rush, and the Penguins go to the PP after a rush to the Flyers end. Lilja for hooking.
Puck's about to drop on the second period. As Gord Miller of TSN pointed out, these clubs have combined for 23 first period goals.
No two other teams have combined for more than 23 goals in all three periods combined.
Penguins better hope they can outgun the Flyers in the second. Tonight's game is following the script of high-scoring already.
Intermission, Flyers leading 2-1.
For what that's worth, it should be worse. Pittsburgh had only a handful of genuine scoring chances and spent much of the period chasing. Philly had the legs in that period.
If the Penguins are ever going to win, they simply must stop taking penalties. This has been an issue since the beginning of the series. Philadelphia has a power play goal in each game so far, and two in just the first period tonight.
They are 11-of-18 on the series (61.1 percent). All three of their goals Wednesday came on the man-advantage.
Pittsburgh knows that the referees will tolerate nothing, especially in a series that saw 282 PIM in just the first four game and especially at a time when player safety and cheap shots have reached epidemic proportion across the postseason.
Pittsburgh is 1-for-2 on the man-advantage—not a bad number—but if they continue to grant the Flyers power play opportunities, they won't make it back to Philadelphia.
The Flyers could probably score 5-on-3 goals during intermissions.
Scott Hartnell scores 10 seconds into the 5-on-3 and all of Pittsburgh sees this.
Just like that, we're back to special teams. Malkin gets a rough on Schenn after the rookie gets comfortable in Fleury's crease.
It's an undisciplined penalty for Malkin. Schenn has found a home in Philadelphia, it seems, as he's found ways to agitate the Pens throughout the series.
Philadelphia is 78 for 13 on the power play so far, or something. That's probably closer than you think.
Steve Sullivan does it again. The Pens find tic-tac-toe out of a series of broken passes and Sullivan pots the one-timer past Bryzgalov to tie it at one.
Malkin and Letang will get the helpers on the PP goal. It's Sullivan's second.
Back to the power play. The Penguins have to win the special teams battle if they're going to win the game. Can't really see another way around it. Coburn gets 2 for interference. Pens' 2nd chance.
They just can't beat it. Has there ever been a more effective power play in NHL history? The Flyers are now 10 for 17 on the man-advantage in this series. Carle scores his first from Read and Jagr and its 1-0 Flyers.
Okay. Engelland to the box for cross checking. The Pens penalty kill has been abysmal this series, killing just 6 of 15 chances. They need to be effective here.
The Flyers killed the penalty to Simmonds and it's back to five-on-five. The first unit started as a combination of Malkin, Crosby and Kunitz with Sullivan and Letang on the points. All in all, not a great showing, especially after last game.
They likely kept the look following four PP goals on Wednesday, but it will be hard to keep James Neal, the leading PPG scorer in the NHL with 18 in the regular season, away from his buddy Malkin for too long.
If the Flyers can stifle the next chance like they did that one, Neal may find himself back on the top unit.
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