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Flyers vs. Penguins recap: For a night, hockey is fun again

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Not a whole lot to not enjoy about tonight’s game, as the Flyers jumped out to a lead over their cross-state in the second period and never looked back.

Kate Frese Photography

Since the Flyers-Penguins rivalry is one full of swings and emotions on a game-by-game and even minute-by-minute basis, tonight’s recap of the Flyers’ 4-0 win over Pittsburgh will just be me recounting my thoughts as they happen in real time. Enjoy!

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7:26 p.m.: So they’re gonna win this game, right? I mean, come on. Three-game losing streak. Playoff hopes are dead in the water. Pittsburgh is rolling (and is just way better than the Flyers). There’s no reason to think the Flyers are going to win this game. Given how this rivalry tends to work, this seems like the kind of game the Flyers win a lot, y’know?

7:34 p.m.: Ah crap this is an NBCSN game and I have to use the online stream which lags about two minutes behind real time. It’s hard being me, folks.

7:36 p.m.: The Stadium Series jerseys are back in play tonight for both teams. I like the Flyers’ ones. Is that a hot take? I feel like a lot of people don’t like those. Definitely better than the gold ones.

7:37 p.m.: Brian Boucher is interviewing Voracek pre-game! Their times in orange and black briefly overlapped, right? In the lockout season when they traded for Boucher from Carolina? That seems fun.

7:40 p.m.: Hahaha oh right Cousins is on the top line. Didn’t they scratch him the other night? This team is so weird. We’re underway.

7:43 p.m.: It’s not the fact that the Penguins get a 2-on-1 a minute into the game that really grinds my gears here. It’s the fact that the shot goes way wide and Kunitz still wins the race to the loose puck. Their guys are going full-speed to the net there and the puck kicks back out to the half-wall. Gotta win that race.

7:45 p.m.: Thaaaaat’s a bad shift by Provorov. Wipes out with Crosby on his tail, then a few seconds later throws the puck right to the Pens on the blue line. Less of that, please.

7:46 p.m.: Best — and, uh, only? — dangerous offensive-zone pass of the night for the Flyers so far is via Chris VandeVelde, just now, to Wayne Simmonds. This is fine.

7:50 p.m.: Justin Schultz magically becoming good in Pittsburgh is some bullshit, man. He was awful in Edmonton. Great move up there by him to create a chance, equally good save by Mason.

7:52 p.m.: Hey look at that! Some sustained pressure for the Flyers and the guy wearing 87 in yellow checks Simmonds way behind the puck. Power play time. Do better than on Monday? Please?

7:55 p.m.: Flyers, after Monday’s awful showing on the power play, are going back to their alternate PP setup, with Provorov on PP1 and Voracek (presumably) on PP2. Let’s see how it goes.

7:57 p.m.: It ... didn’t go incredibly well. Not poorly — two decent chances at the beginning and end of it — but pretty unorganized otherwise.

7:59 p.m.: Two shots on goal halfway through the first period, and that’s with two minutes for a power play. Is that bad? It seems not-good.

8:00 p.m.: That said, the Pens seem determined to give the Flyers a chance here. Two straight icings here for the visitors.

8:02 p.m.: Well that’s nice.

8:04 p.m.: And there’s Steve Mason, doing stuff in net. Stops Malkin on the initial shot and the rebound, making nice movement in doing so.

8:06 p.m.: Schultz (the Pittsburgh one) trips Cousins, and the Flyers will start this power play with their second unit on the ice. I’d mock it — and to be clear, I don’t really like it — but why the hell not at this point, I guess.

8:08 p.m.: Second unit spent most of its time in its own zone. First unit came out and saw Ghost break his stick.

8:09 p.m.: I generally don’t get myself too worked up about Flyers power play slumps, because the Flyers have had a lot of them over the past four or five years and they pretty much always bounce back given a bit of time. And they probably will bounce back out of this one before long. But cripes, this is just ugly.

8:12 p.m.: And now the Pens are going to go to the power play after a pretty wimpy slashing call on Schenn. Quick, read this from Charlie earlier today about the PK. Basically, the Pens are almost certainly about to score.

8:14 p.m.: Well now look at the PK getting the best chance of the night for the Flyers! Simmonds and Provorov both had their hacks from in close. Love the aggressiveness there, boys.

8:15 p.m.: We should note, this happened after the Flyers had already had two power plays:

8:16 p.m.: And now THAT’s the Flyers’ best chance of the night, but Matt Murray gets over in time to snuff out Schenn from Filppula. Hot damn.

8:17 p.m.: First period is over and we are scoreless. Shots are 8-7 Pens. Flyers picked it up a bit in the last few minutes but overall pretty unexciting.

8:18 p.m.: Why is NBCSN’s stream showing a commercial for the game that I’m currently watching, telling me to start watching at 6:30? What exactly do they think I’m doing?

8:25 p.m.: I feel like I’m supposed to be angrier than I am right now. This is Flyers-Penguins. Why aren’t I running around my living room shouting at inanimate objects? This season stinks.

8:37 p.m.: A HOCKEY GOAL YES SUCK IT FLIGHTLESS BIRD PUNKS

8:38 p.m.: Count it for Sean Couturier, who has his 10th 5-on-5 goal of the season. Is that ... Dale Weise with the A-1 here? And Schenn with the 5-on-5 point? Miracles happen, once in a while.

8:39 p.m.: Schenn is hurt on the bench, because things can never be good for extended periods of time.

8:43 p.m.: As bad as the power play has been tonight, that’s how good the PK has been so far. Two straight Pens power plays have come and gone without a single shot allowed, and without any real breakdowns in the process. Great to see.

8:46 p.m.: It’s like they heard me and just want me to be sad. Flyers back on the power play after Cousins gets cross-checked into the boards.

8:47 p.m.: AND THEN THERE’S A GOAL LET’S FUCKIN GO ON THE DAMN WAYNE TRAIN YALL

8:48 p.m.: Here, let’s all enjoy Wayne Simmonds’ 200th NHL goal. I still don’t love changing the top PP unit, but Ghost’s shot is even more of a weapon from the top of the circles, and when he fires one that leaves a rebound out there, Simmonds ain’t gonna miss very often.

8:51 p.m.: And now Konecny just misses on a deflection on a Provorov point shot. Been a while, but man, the Flyers are feeling it right now. This is fun? Is this fun? It seems fun?

9:00 p.m.: Only line for Pittsburgh that’s doing anything of note this period is the Crosby line with Sheary and Guentzel, but the Flyers have been lucky to avoid a goal or two from them tonight.

9:02 p.m.: Mark Streit is stopped in close by Mason. Y’know, I feel like if I was a fan of any other team, I’d find it hilarious that the Flyers traded a rental defenseman to a team, only to watch said team trade said defenseman to the Flyers’ biggest rival minutes later. But since that did happen to my favorite team, I don’t think I’ve taken the time to get sufficiently angry at the fact that that actually happened. Know what? Mark Streit sucks. I am here, deciding this now. Screw that guy.

9:06 p.m.: Coots just misses his second of the night on a nice stop by Murray down low. He has seven shots on goal on the evening, which NBCSN is now telling me is a career-high for him. And that’s all mostly against the Kunitz/Malkin/Kessel line. Flyers-Pens games, man.

9:08 p.m.: Even the announcers can’t help but note how strange it is that the Flyers have played Mason in basically every game since they gave Neuvirth his contract extension. Almost like that contract extension was totally unnecessary ...

9:13 p.m.: Are the fans cheering at the end of a period? This is weird. Flyers up 2-0 going into the second recess. I’m enjoying it.

9:23 p.m.: OK so know how I said two hours ago that they’re going to win this game? Why do I suddenly feel like this is going to end poorly? Why can’t I ever feel normal about this team?

9:30 p.m.: Third is underway. Please don’t break my heart here, the Flyers. I haven’t asked for much this season. I’d like this.

9:32 p.m.: Kunitz flubs a pass in the high slot from Malkin. Remember when Kunitz went to the Olympics over Giroux? That was some bullshit.

9:33 p.m.: I’m still mad about that.

9:38 p.m.: Filppula stoned by Murray on a partial breakaway that probably would have iced this one. Flyers still pushing while up 2-0. That’s what we need to see here.

9:39 p.m.: Then Voracek is stuffed after a great cross-ice feed. Murray showed up tonight.

9:44 p.m.: The fans are wooing. Have to think this means a 10-game winning streak is imminent.

9:45 p.m.: Kunitz goes to the box for doing something stupid, I assume. End this game. C’mon.

9:47 p.m.: Joe Micheletti just said that Flyers fans seem to be expecting Provorov to be a “combination of Ryan McDonagh and Ryan Suter”. No pressure, kid...

9: 47 p.m.: In other news, the power play is bad again. Mason stops Sundqvist on a shorthanded chance down low.

9:49 p.m.: Flyers get a 2-on-1 and Filppula puts a pass right on the tape of Bellemare, who oh come on like you need me to tell you what he did from there. Filpp has had a number of near-misses tonight, both via the pass and his own shot. Tough-luck game for him.

9:51 p.m.: Pens just had their best chance of the third period but Kunitz couldn’t quite squeeze it in the tiny opening between a prone Mason’s skate and the post. Maybe this is the night that ... something good happens?

9:56 p.m.: Yep. This is the night. Giroux. 3-0.

9:58 p.m.: Bellemare with the nice set-up here that Giroux cashed in on. And woof, hey, remember like two hours ago when I said nice things about Justin Schultz? Can we pretend I didn’t? Thanks.

9:59 p.m.: Kenny Albert and Joe Micheletti razzing Boucher for giving up a late game-tying goal to Tyler Kennedy in the alumni game is fun. “Who shoots the puck better than Tyler Kennedy?”

10:00 p.m.: Per Kenny Albert, the assist on Giroux’s goal was Bellemare’s first in 53 games. What a world.

10:02 p.m.: And then Dale Weise, the human victory cigar, will ice this one with his first goal since November, giving everyone in attendance some free fast food. Great work by Couturier to get the puck, great work by Schenn to chase down his rebound, and great work by Weise to be standing in that exact spot he was standing in.

10:04 p.m.: FINAL: Flyers win 4-0. First win against Pittsburgh of the season. Enjoyable hockey game. We’ll take the good as we get it.

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Up to New Jersey tomorrow, where we will inevitably find a way to stop enjoying hockey again. Go Flyers.