Postgame Perspective: Penguins continue to bring out best in Flyers


In the past week, the Flyers had lost to the Washington Capitals, 1-0, the Vancouver Canucks, 4-0, defeated the lowly Buffalo Sabres, 4-3, and lost to the New York Islanders, 7-4. You wouldn't know it from the team that took the ice on Tuesday night.

Once again, the Pittsburgh Penguins brought out the best – and baddest – in the Flyers.

A 3-2 overtime win was the result, but in between, the game featured four fights, a controversial hit, and much more. It was finally capped with the only power-play goal of the game, Claude Giroux's overtime winner.

"Pitt brings that out of us, don't they?" head coach Craig Berube said. "Guys were battling for each other. We played a really good hockey game. They were emotional. They were into it. It's great to see."

"There was a lot of emotion," Giroux said. "It's a game like that we needed. We got a little dirty, played together and really fought for each other."

It didn't start that way. The Penguins took the game's first 13 shots. The Flyers took the next two. One was a weak shot from center ice. The other was by Luke Schenn. It beat Thomas Greiss for the game's first goal.

The Flyers certainly did weather the storm. The Penguins not only unleashed all the shots early, they were given a golden opportunity to put the game away with a five-minute power play late in the first on a boarding call on Zac Rinaldo that will definitely fetch him a suspension.

The Flyers penalty kill was up to the task that time and five others during the game, posting their best game in recent memory.

"We took a few too many penalties," Berube said. "I think the penalty kill on the island was good too. These last two games, the penalty kill has been really assertive, taking away the options."

"Against a team like this, we need to be sure not to take too many penalties," Giroux said, "but our PK was I think one of the best this year to shut them down. Obviously it starts in goal and Ray did a good job."

One of those defensemen getting time on the penalty kill was Brandon Manning. Manning played 17:20 after being called up overnight. 5:31 of that was on the penalty kill.

"I thought he was excellent," Berube said. "He came up and was assertive, skated well, moved the puck well, jumped up on the play, defended well. I thought he played a great game."

For much of the night, the Flyers were able to hold the Penguins best at bay. Sidney Crosby served as a decoy on Chris Kunitz' short-handed goal. Evgeni Malkin assisted on Beau Bennett's go-ahead goal early in the third. Both were on 2-on-1 chances.

But the Flyers had a quick response to the early goal in the third. Chris VandeVelde's third goal in as many games evened the score just two minutes after Pittsburgh took the lead.

In the midst of all the fisticuffs and extra-curriculars, the Flyers improved throughout the game following the slow start. For most of the game, they controlled play, and even erased that early shot deficit to finish out-shooting the Penguins, 40-35, for the game.

Giroux's overtime tally capped off a night that had a classic feel, from the actions on the ice, to the energy inside Wells Fargo Center.

"The game kind of isn't like that any more," Ray Emery, who made 33 saves in the win, said. "You don't see many fights. We've got a rivalry with Pittsburgh and going to the break we wanted to end on a good note at home. It was a game where we needed to have that kind of emotion."

"It was good team win," Jake Voracek said. "Those games with Pittsburgh are very emotional. We stuck together and found a way to win the game. It's very hard against a team like that."

So now the Flyers embark on another break, taking time off for the All-Star festivities – where Giroux and Voracek will be in action – before returning home in a week. But before they left, they turned in what may be the most-entertaining game of the season.

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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