Despite a recent blowout victory against the New York Islanders, the Flyers were still searching for their identity in the NHL. And what better way to find this out than playing a road game against the Penguins, one of the best teams in the league?
These two teams have always despised one another. The rivalry continues to build steam each season, and this one is no different.
The Pens opened this season in Philadelphia and dominated the majority of the match. Pittsburgh's goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was impeccable in the net, and the Flyers' special teams were miserable, as Philly would lose the season opener 3-1.
Since then, the Penguins have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL, while the Flyers have struggled for any type of rhythm or momentum.
Which leads us to tonight's game.
Lately the Flyers have been playing better hockey but still show no signs of consistency—specifically on the road. So traveling to Pittsburgh, Philly was looking to string back-to-back road wins for the first time this season.
And the game did not start pretty for the Flyers.
From the first puck drop at center ice, the Penguins managed the game's momentum. Two early goals by Matt Niskanen and Evgeni Malkin helped the Pens jump out to an early lead, deflating Philadelphia.
Here we go again.
Flyers' coach Peter Laviolette decided to use his only timeout and rally the troops after the first goal—a move he has become famous for utilizing early in games. And again, the move paid off.
Despite a careless penalty after the timeout by youngster Harry Zolnierczyk and letting up the second goal to Malkin, the Flyers were a more determined hockey club.
Down two goals, the Flyers showed incredible heart and drive to tie the game with two unanswered goals from Nicklas Grossman and Wayne Simmonds, who also dropped the gloves with Pens' Tanner Glass.
That was just the first period of play.
The second period was scoreless until Jakub Voracek capitalized on a power-play goal with 50 seconds remaining in the period. Voracek, who had four assists in the prior game, continued his magical play and offered some foreshadowing of things to come. The Flyers led 3-2 after two periods of intense hockey.
Just 18 seconds into the third period, Voraceck scored yet again to give the Flyers a two-goal lead. The Penguins were stunned and the Flyers were on fire, but the Pens did not roll over and quit.
After trading goals from the Pens' Tyler Kennedy and the Flyers' Wayne Simmonds, Philly committed three consecutive penalties, including a double minor on Mike Knuble for high-sticking. Philadelphia still held a two-goal lead, but the Pens, who are second in the league on the power play, were now going on a two-man advantage.
Pens' forward James Neal, who leads the league in power-play goals, torched goalie Ilya Bryzgalov during the two-man advantage and cut the lead to one. The Flyers were able to survive the remainder of the two-man disadvantage, but two minutes later, Brandon Sutter scored on a wrap-around goal to tie the game.
The Consol Energy Center went into a frenzy for their hometown Penguins and the Flyers appeared to have lost momentum.
That is until the Flyers' hero, Jakub Voracek, scored 32 seconds later and sealed the victory for the orange and black. Voracek finished with a hat trick and Simmonds finished with the "Gordie Howe" hat trick.
Philadelphia showed fight, courage and heart with this much-needed victory and perfectly capped off its six-game road stint. The Flyers did lose forward Matt Read, who suffered an upper-body injury and did not return to the game. Read has been a consistent bright spot for the team and could be a huge loss if seriously injured.
But with the Flyers flying on all cylinders, gelling at the right time and the eventual return of their heart and soul, Scott Hartnell, things are headed in the right direction.
With a five-game home stand beginning tomorrow night with the Florida Panthers, Philadelphia needs to build from its season-changing victory against the Penguins and continue to play dominant hockey.
Let's go Flyers.
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