Justin K. Aller
Last goal wins. Flyers got the last goal. Flyers still own the Consol Energy Center. Good times.
What a game, and what a win. Ridiculous back-and-forth action, goaltending hilarity, unbelievable goals, swearing at the TV out of anger, swearing at the TV out of elation...this was a Flyers-Penguins game. And the same way seven of the Flyers' other nine games at the Consol Energy Center have ended, it ended the right way.
Recap, in full bullet form:
* We all remember the stuff from the preview about the Penguins getting out to a quick start and then proceeding to blow it? That was what happened here, pretty much like clockwork. In the first eight minutes the Penguins score two goals and outshoot the Flyers 12-2. By the end of the first period it's 2-2 and the Flyers have a 15-13 edge in shots. 4 goals, 28 shots, 24 PIM. April's playoff series all over again, basically. Let's talk a little more about that first period, because it was awesome.
* Ed Snider: A word, please. You've got a little bit of clout within NBC, I hear. Please, send a memo to someone telling them "no more putting up graphics that mention a long PK streak for the Flyers and a long PP drought for their opponent", because we all know how that's ending up as soon as the graphic goes on the screen. That's on you, NBC graphics guy. (And also on Luke Schenn for leaving Malkin unmarked two feet away from the net. But mostly NBC.)
* Of course, then the Flyers started playing. And they got the most ridiculous goal I've ever seen. Travis summed it up pretty well here, though I'd just add that my favorite thing about it is the fact that "Nicklas Grossmann scored a goal" is only the 16th-or-so weirdest thing about it. Fun times.
* Wayne Simmonds was all over the place. His goal to tie it at 2-2 showed some nice hands, and that scrap with Glass late in the period was an interesting one as well until they both just kinda stopped for a while and the refs broke it up. He'd go on to get a Gordie Howe hat trick with an assist on the second-period goal, only the third so far in the NHL this season. What a guy. He'd get another goal, too. More on that later.
* Noted Malkin-neutralizer Sean Couturier had three different great chances in the first period alone--on a 3-on-1 just before the Pens' first goal, on a shot right before Nicklas Grossmann's first goal, and on a semi-break towards the end of the period where he tried to sneak it by Vokoun instead of shooting. In total, he sent six shots Tomas Vokoun's way in that period. Sooner or later those are going to go in the net if he keeps playing that way. He would also, later in the game, manage to draw a penalty on Malkin, because he's awesome.
* Yet another injury to an important Flyer as Matt Read didn't play after the first period due to an upper body injury. Crap. Here's hoping that's nothing serious.
* One of the best moments of Pierre McGuire's existence as a broadcaster came when he referred to Peter Laviolette as the "master of the timeout" to his face during a 2nd period interview. It almost made me like Pierre. Almost. And then he said "Kristopher Letang" again and I stopped almost liking him.
* Unfortunately, that interview looked like it was going to be the highlight of an otherwise-mundane second period until the 18:28 mark, where Craig Adams took a (admittedly borderline, in my opinion) elbowing penalty on Jakub Voracek. Jake followed with a goal that, as a few pointed out in the comments/on Twitter, was fairly reminiscient of the one he scored in overtime of Game 1 of the playoff series. Good times.
* Right as the third period began, an odd sense of deja vu kicked in, as another very poorly handled play by Vokoun ended with him chilling out of the crease for an extended amount of time and ended with Voracek potting his second of the night. At this point, I imagine most of us were too busy laughing at Vokoun's inexplicable idiocy through tonight's game to worry about the thought of a comeback.
* But, of course, it's the Penguins and we all should know better than that. A shot deflected over to Tyler Kennedy, who beat Ilya Bryzgalov to the short side and cut the lead in half. And then a beautiful pass by Wayne Simmonds to Matt Niskanen ended up in the back of the net as well, and I was back to laughing at Vokoun. One double-minor from Tanner Glass later, and it looked like we juuuuuuuuuuuust might be in the clear.
* Um...no. We weren't. Not even close. Another double-minor, this time against Mike Knuble, was quickly followed up by another high-stick by Ruslan Fedotenko, and a 5-on-3 goal later we were all hyperventilating again.--and surely enough, the 8:43 that followed probably took a few years off of all of our lives.
* If you didn't have one already, I assume you quickly formulated an opinion on the rule that calls for a penalty for closing your hand on the puck, and I'm gonna guess it wasn't a positive opinion. That led to a bit more 5-on-3 time for Pittsburgh, during which Chris Kunitz quickly tied the game before we all realized he was actually playing footie out there (GIF via @cjzero). That was rightly called off, and after killing the rest of the penalty with just under four minutes left it looked like we might've finally closed it out.
* Let this be a lesson, if you're as dumb as I and thought, at any point in this game, that it was in the bag: games against the Penguins are never in the bag. Brandon Sutter, from behind the net, inexplicably had an ample amount of open space in front of Bryzgalov (if anyone can tell me what Coburn and Grossmann were doing there, please let me know, because I'm not sure) and snuck the puck around the paddle and through the 5-hole. That was not called off, and at that point if you thought we were winning this game...well, you're more optimistic than I. (Though you were also right. Go you.)
* Don't think I can sum up what happened on that final goal, in which Jake Voracek shot it from behind the goal line to finish his hat trick and win the game, better than Tomas Vokoun does here. Just watch the .GIF at that link. Then watch it again. Rinse, repeat, smile. Bryz and the D shut the door for the last 91 seconds and the Flyers came away with their biggest win of the season.
* I don't think Ilya Bryzgalov was particularly good or bad tonight. The only goal I saw and thought he'd really want another chance at was the last one, and he had a couple of real nice saves in the first and third period. Numbers weren't pretty, but you tend to get off easy when the other goalie finds himself lying outside of the crease on two goals.
* Not a bad game for the guys on the wings, eh? Voracek (who only ended up playing less time than Giroux, Max Talbot, and Sean Couturier among forwards, so I guess that's progress), had his hat trick, and Simmonds put up two of his own. If Read's injury isn't serious and if Hartnell comes back in 7-10 days, as Homer said earlier today, then these top two lines will be what we all thought they would be soon. Which is to say: they'll be scary.
* Good sign: Flyers have tripled their win total against the Atlantic Division (from 1 to 3) in the last three days. Doing it against the Islanders? Cool. Picking up the win against the Penguins? Awesome. Technically, they're tied for the East's last playoff spot, and if we all ignore the fact that the other two teams that they're tied with have three games in hand then we can all be happy. So let's do that.
If this game wasn't exciting enough for you...you may be a bit dead inside. Maybe you'd prefer tomorrow night's contest against Florida, because those are always anything other than boring as sin. (Just kidding.) 7 p.m. start at the WFC to begin a 5-game homestand. Go team.
Comment of the Night:
"What are you wearing, Jake from State Farm?"