March 25, 2013
Box Score (from Flyers.NHL.com)
If someone who doesn't watch hockey tuned in to NBC Sports Network's broadcast of the Flyers, Penguins game on Sunday night, the only thing they likely would be able to take away from it is that Sidney Crosby is the only player that matters.
It was bad enough, but coupled with all the praise he was getting from Pierre McGuire and Doc Emerick made Crosby's game-tying goal in the third period all the more nauseating.
Crosby's goal, a one-timer set up by Paul Martin, sent the game into overtime when Tyler Kennedy scored the game-winner 2:33 in, to hand the Flyers a 2-1 overtime loss.
The shame of it is, the Flyers played a very solid game, but took two untimely, and very debatable, penalties late in the game.
Wayne Simmonds got called for slashing at 12:52 in the third, the Kimmo Timonen was sent to the box for hooking 23 seconds later to give the Penguins a 5-on-3 advantage, which resulted in Crosby's goal to tie the game 1-1.
Somehow, though, the Flyers were able to keep the Penguins, who entered the night on an 11-game win-streak, scoreless for two periods. A rarity considering the the memorable games these two rivals have played in over the past couple of years.
Claude Giroux put the Flyers on the board first in the second period, after his pass to Simon Gagne was deflected back to him.
Giroux threw a shot on net as soon as he got the puck back, putting it past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for the 1-0 lead. The goal came on the power play following a slashing call on Pittsburgh's Paul Martin.
The Flyers had chances to pad their lead, but just couldn't convert.
Matt Read, on a one-timer from Giroux, fired a shot wide of the net early in the third period, then Jakub Voracek spun in front of the net and fired a shot on goal on the same play. Fleury, however, was able to get his glove on it.
Fleury made 27 saves Sunday night, while Ilya Bryzgalov made 33, playing a big role in keeping Pittsburgh off the board for so long.
Andrej Meszaros had a scoring opportunity 1:54 into overtime, but couldn't put the puck in. Kennedy ended the game 39 seconds later.
The Flyers (13-16-2, 28 points) got a point out of the contest, but after five days off and being involved in a playoff hunt that leaves them with less and less room for error, they really needed the extra point that came with the win.
The Flyers sit 13th in Eastern Conference and didn't make up any ground with the point for going to overtime. They are still five points out of the eighth playoff seed.
The Penguins (25-8-0, 50 points), now on a 12-game win streak, sit comfortably as the top seed in the conference.
Tuesday night will be the start of a crucial five-game homestand for the Flyers that will likely be the deciding factor on if they will be able to grab a playoff spot.
They'll start with the division rival New York Rangers, who are also fighting for a playoff berth, at home. Then take on another Atlantic Division rival in the Islanders on Thursday, followed by the Boston Bruins, the Washington Capitals and the Montreal Canadiens in the days after.
The Bruins and the Canadiens are currently the four and two seeds in the conference.
Extras: In a humorous display of quick-thinking, Luke Schenn jumped into Pierre McGuire's space between the two benches at the start of the second period to avoid a too many men on the ice penalty.
Danny Briere did not play on Sunday night due to an upper-body injury he suffered the day before in practice. He is listed as day-to-day with the injury.
Nicklas Grossmann also didn't play on Sunday night due to an upper-body injury, missing his first game this season.
(Image from NHL.com and Getty Images)