Sean Couturier paced the offense with a goal and two assists and Brian Elliott made 34 saves as the Flyers beat the Penguins, 5-1, to even up their best-of-seven series at 1-1 on Friday night at PPG Paints Arena.
Nothing went the Flyers’ way in Game 1, but Game 2 saw more puck luck and a standout performance from their defense and goaltending paced the road win. The maligned penalty kill also had a great night, killing off all four Pittsburgh power plays.
The win means the Flyers have earned a split in Pittsburgh and head back to Philadelphia and the Wells Fargo Center for the next two games, the first of which coming on Sunday at 3pm.
The Flyers were hoping for a better start than in game 1, but the Penguins dominated the opening shift of this one, hemming the Flyers in their own zone for the first minute.
Much like game 1, it was Scott Laughton with a good early scoring chance. Laughton jumped on a loose puck at the 2:37 mark but was denied by Matt Murray. It was Laughton who was robbed by Murray in game 1 in close that would have tied things at 1-1.
Though it was easy for the Flyers to look better early than they did in Game 1, they were pressing in the Penguins’ zone and creating chances at Murray.
At the other end the Penguins nearly scored first, but Patric Hornqvist’s long slap shot rang off the iron behind Brian Elliott and straight out of harms way. Elliott sort of whiffed on the puck and got help from his friend the post to avoid yet another questionable goal early in the series.
But Elliott would come up with a huge pad save on Aston-Reese with 8:17 left in the period, flashing a pad to get a piece of a Zach Aston-Reese deflection in front to keep things scoreless.
With 2:45 left in the first it would be Hornqvist against to test Elliott. This time off a drop pass from Evgeni Malkin that nearly snuck past Elliott’s left pad and might have glanced off the post. After a rough first game physically, Hornqvist was very active early on.
The Flyers would earn the games first power play with 1:30 left in the first as Aston-Reese would go off for boarding. On replay a roughing call would have sufficed, the Flyers went 0-for-4 on the man-advantage in Game 1.
Shayne Gostisbehere would get the Flyers on the board first, firing a wrist shot through a sea of bodies and sneaking in past Murray with 36 seconds left in the period to make it 1-0. Nolan Patrick provided a solid screen in front of Murray while Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier picked up assists on the goal.
Shayne Gostisbehere scores the Flyers first goal of the game, and the 2018 playoffs! pic.twitter.com/wE8E9bgNtb— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) April 13, 2018
The Flyers would get the early jump in the second period, extending their lead to 2-0 just 47 seconds in. Sean Couturier slung the puck towards the net and it hit off a Penguin in the crease and dribbled over the goal line. Michael Raffl and Ivan Provorov would pick up assists on the goal.
A bit of puck luck for the Flyers after seeing not an ounce of it in Game 1.
Cooooooooooooooooots puts the Flyers up 2-0. pic.twitter.com/N0o3QXNQ6u— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) April 14, 2018
Good news was a 2-0 lead, but then some bad news as Nolan Patrick would go into the boards hard and be forced to leave the bench on the following shift after Couturier’s goal. He would return shortly, though.
Pittsburgh would respond with heavy pressure on Elliott, but the veteran would stand tall to keep the Flyers’ lead at two.
Then Travis Konecny would take a bad roughing call at the 7:32 mark, getting his elbow up on Chad Ruhwedel after Murray made a cover. It was not a good penalty for Konecny to take given the situation of the game.
On the power play Elliott would made key save on Malkin late in the man-advantage after a failed clear. The kill dropped the Penguins to just 1-for-5 in the series so far as the penalty kill did a nice job again.
After matching slashing calls to Andrew MacDonald and Patric Hornqvist, Brian Elliott would come up with the save of the game for the Flyers.
With 7:28 left in the period, Sidney Crosby roared in on a breakaway after a turnover by Claude Giroux to send in the Penguins’ star in all alone. Elliott followed Crosby’s move to backhand and denied the Penguins’ captain to maintain the Flyers’ 2-0 lead with a massive momentum save.
However, Travis Sanheim would put the Penguins right back on the power play as the Flyers would again play with the dangerous Pittsburgh man-advantage with less than six minutes remaining in the second. Another solid penalty kill would follow, though, and the rookie would get bailed out.
But the Flyers weren’t done giving the Penguins’ power play chances as Wayne Simmonds roughed up Evgeni Malkin after a whistle to head right back to the penalty kill with 1:37 left in the second.
With just seconds left in the period Phil Kessel sent a perfect backdoor feed to Crosby, but he sailed the puck through the crease with the empty net waning. It was a rare doorstep miss from Crosby, who slashed his stick on the net in frustration.
The Flyers would kill of the remainder of Simmonds’ minor that carried over from the second to start the third with no harm done. Instead it would be the Flyers to inflict more harm on the Penguins.
Travis Konecny would make it 3-0 Flyers just 1:29 in after a beautiful move to get position on Ruhwedel and beat Murray to the short side. It’s Konecny’s first career playoff goal and a huge one to extend the lead with the Penguins really pushing the action in the Flyers’ zone to start the period. Ivan Provorov started the play around the wall in his own zone and Simmonds chipped the puck to the streaking Konecny who did the rest.
Travis Konecny with a highlight reel goal.— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) April 14, 2018
3-0 Flyers. pic.twitter.com/X7U2KpheYN
But the Flyers weren’t done scoring just yet.
Armed with a power play thanks to Bryan Rust, Nolan Patrick would make it 4-0 on a sweet backdoor feed from Sean Couturier. It was of the no-look backhand variety, and Patrick left no doubt to get his first career playoff goal at the 5:10 mark of the third.
Nolan Patrick's first NHL playoff goal! pic.twitter.com/3Ppu0MLpDG— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) April 14, 2018
A quick response from the Penguins and Patric Hornqvist would erase the Patrick tally just 17 seconds later to make it 4-1. Hornqvist beat Brandon Manning wide and was able to solve Elliott for the first time on the evening.
With 9:29 the Flyers would again hit the penalty kill with Simmonds off for slashing as the Penguins looked to cut into the three-goal deficit. There was much to do on the ensuing power play as Andrew MacDonald and Hornqvist would get minors for cross-checking and embellishment with 50 seconds remaining on the initial call.
Patric Hornqvist with a dive that will win him an Oscar faster than Leonardo DiCaprio did. pic.twitter.com/FkL9M9SWtf— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) April 14, 2018
More good work would ensue from the Flyers’ penalty kill as they shut down passing lanes and forced the Penguins’ power play away once again. It was the fourth-straight kill for the Flyers in the game and a big one to help salt away the second half of the third period.
Down three goals, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan would pull Matt Murray with 4:04 left. The refs had enough of Hornqvist and Manning, who were both shown the dressing room with four minutes left with 10-minute misconducts after some poking and jawing after the whistle.
Somehow, despite the Penguins net being empty for the better part of three minutes it would be Andrew MacDonald of all people to put the nail in the coffin. The empty netter made it 5-1 Flyers and put an exclamation point on a massive bounce back game for the Flyers to even the series up at 1-1.