For the first time this season, the Pittsburgh Penguins (6-2-1) and Philadelphia Flyers (3-5-1) faced off in one of hockey’s best rivalries. The Penguins won the 5-4 slug-fest, which was decided by Evgeni Malkin’s second goal of the game that came in the third period. Malkin’s game-winner also marked his 300th career goal.
Pittsburgh went down early and had to fight back from a 2-0 deficit after the Flyers’ Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds jump-started Philadelphia’s offense.
But the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby tied the game up when he notched his third and fourth goals of the season.
The Flyers didn’t shy away and tied the game up once again.
But headed into the final period of play with the game tied at 4-4, Malkin was able to seal the game and give the Penguins their first road victory of the season.
Struggles Away From Home
With a 1-4 record in the last five road games, the Penguins have not done particularly well when playing on the road. Saturday, while the defense and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury had an off-night, Pittsburgh was able to hold the game down and finish off a come-from-behind win in spectacular fashion.
Outshooting the Penguins 42 to 27 on Saturday night, the Flyers had the early momentum. But then Pittsburgh scored three goals in 55 seconds (two off which came off Crosby’s stick), and Pittsburgh was able to shift it into another gear and keep that pace for the rest of the game.
Most importantly, the Penguins’ defense was able to hold off Philadelphia’s offense, even into the final seconds of the game. Both teams also had a few power play opportunities but were only able to capitalize once (Voracek scored on a penalty shot goal.)
Fleury has started each game for Pittsburgh — Matt Murray was injured to start the season (hand) and has backed Fleury up in the last few games — and collected his sixth win of the season. Allowing four goals tonight, it was clear the netminder was not able to put it all together.
Luckily, the Penguins’ offense did enough to shut the door on Philadelphia and secure a win for the team before it heads west.
“I still think we’re not where we want to be,” said head coach Mike Sullivan. “Certainly our overall assessment of ourselves is that we need to do better.”
He continued, “We know that we have what it takes to come back into games. But we certainly don’t want to be chasing teams, that’s the lesson tonight.”
This criticism shouldn’t be taken as a surprise. Even with the win Saturday night, Pittsburgh was by no means spectacular. The defense was outplayed for long periods, and the offense struggled at times to put everything completely together.
“We have opportunities to make plays in our own zone, and we end up missing a pass or turning it over. Then we’re playing defense for 30 seconds or longer,” Sullivan said.
A lot of the goals the Penguins have allowed this season were a result of mistakes on Pittsburgh’s part. The Flyers were able to take advantage of a lot of these mistakes and were able to make a game of it.
“They had a good start,” Crosby said. “But, we scored quick and got momentum going into the second. We knew they were going to come hard. We gave up a few early, but we found a way to get settled.”
The Penguins will play their second of four-straight games on the road when they face off against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. EDT.
Image credit: Derik Hamilton/AP Photo