Published on February 21st, 2013 | by James Conley0
Discipline, Goaltending Sink Pens in 6-5 Loss to Flyers
The Penguins can’t beat the Flyers in CONSOL Energy Center. By design, the Pens couldn’t keep the Flyers’ post-whistle liberties from getting into their heads, and as is often the result, retaliatory nonsense kept Pittsburgh from getting into the win column.
“After we go up two, they start running around a bit and it’s the same old story with getting in with what they like to do after the whistle,” James Neal said after the game. “We can’t get dragged in to that.”
The Pens were dragged into it. Again. Jakub Voracek scored a hat trick and Wayne Simmonds added two more goals as the Flyers won for the eighth time in ten visits to CEC, beating the Penguins 6-5 even without the benefit of a historically killer power play.
The Flyers narrative never seems to change, as the Penguins were again goaded into playing a style of game that is preferred by the outmatched Flyers. Despite their recent match-up dominance, the Flyers aren’t as deep a team as the Penguins, especially given their glut of injuries and patchwork defense.
That hasn’t stopped the Flyers from winning with a perfect game plan.
The imbalanced rosters were no issue again. No team in hockey matches its strengths against the Penguins’ weaknesses like the Flyers. Even on home ice and the line-changing benefit it provides, Evgeni Malkin still couldn’t be hidden away from stick-in-the-spokes sophomore Sean Couturier.
Coaching, discipline and goaltending have tilted the series in the direction of the Flyers since last season, and despite a solid 3-1 to open the season in Philadelphia, the ghosts of last year’s playoff washout are clearly still at work.
Tomas Vokoun was tagged for six goals in the loss, by far the worst of his seven appearances with the Penguins this season. Though Vokoun got no love from the officials on two of his goals against—one which could have been whistled down and one which should have been whistled down—a number of puckhandling miscues and defensive lapses led to another typically high-scoring Flyers affair.
James Neal, Brandon Sutter, Tyler Kennedy, Evgeni Malkin and Matt Niskanen scored for the Penguins in the loss. Neal and Malkin found offense, as always, on the man advantage. Neal’s 5-on-3 one-timer brought the Penguins within a goal late in the third, while Malkin netted the game’s second goal with a first-period PP marker. Each finished with a goal and an assist on the power play.
Neal now has 12 goals on the season and 8 on the power play, both of which are league-leading numbers. Malkin’s two-point game moved him back into top-ten position among NHL scorers.
Sidney Crosby earned one assist in the game, but he and linemates Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis finished the game a combined minus-9 after being among the best plus-minus forwards in hockey prior to Wednesday.
Paul Martin finished the game a minus-3, but put on a spectacular show offensively, earning three assists on three very similar point shots that were picked up by his forwards.
Pittsburgh is now 3-4-0 at home and 5-4-0 in the Atlantic.
Featured Image clydeorama @ flickr