Pens-Flyers Game 4: In-Game Blog
Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 6:30 PM ET / 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs Coverage
By Michelle Crechiolo
PENS 10, FLYERS 3
FLYERS LEAD SERIES 3-1
0:00: That'll do it! Pens stay alive by routing the Flyers, 10-3!
1:10: Let's dig up some stats hidden by all these goals. Flyers are outhitting Pens 39-29, but Pens have a huge edge in faceoffs: 40-29 (58 percent).
6:18: The game has settled down these last few minutes. Both teams have somewhat depleted benches with the game misconducts. Pens' younger players getting more ice time.
11:12: Cooke absorbs some post-whistle cross checks, a few from Kubina and one from Simmonds. Cooke gets called for holding the stick and gets a 10-minute misconduct. Kubina gets called for cross-checking and also gets a 10-minute misconduct. Simmonds and Vitale each get unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and also get 10-minute misconducts. We'll remain 5-on-5.
14:08: Fleury looks like his old self back there between the pipes as he comes up with a big glove save.
15:56: And the Pens make it double digits! After Fleury produces his second pretty pad save of the night, Kunitz banks a shot off Bobrovsky's pad right to a crashing Malkin. He stuffs it home for the goal. Beauty of a pass off the pads. GOAL: MALKIN (2). PENS 10, FLYERS 3
|"WE WANT TEN, WE WANT TEN, WE WANT TEN. #Pens #PitPhi"
17:22: Michalek is back and on the ice with Despres. Good to see.
18:58: Flyers kill off the entire 4-minute penalty assessed to Rinaldo. They are back at full strength.
20:00: Puck drops to start the third. Pens have 43 seconds left on the power play. Game on!
What a game by Pittsburgh. They've played their best hockey with their backs against the wall. The Pens have scored a staggering nine goals through two periods. They have the Flyers completely back on their heels. Pittsburgh's power play has exploded this game, as 4 of its 9 goals have come on the man-advantage. Every player in the Pens dressing room has stepped up and produced a fantastic game thus far, led by Jordan Staal's hat trick. Five other Pens have multiple points and a total of 14 Pens (including Fleury) are on the score sheet. There's one period left. Let's see what happens.
0:00: First 40 minutes are in the books. Pens have a staggering 9-3 lead over the Flyers.
3:17: Rinaldo takes some liberties with Michalek in the corner of the Pens zone. Michalek is down and once he's able to get up, heads straight to the locker room. Rinaldo gets two for cross-checking, two for roughing, a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct. Pens are on the PP for 4 minutes.
3:57: Staal heads down the ice on a 2-on-1 with Tangradi. Staal looks over like he's going to pass to Tangradi, and as his line of sight travels across the slot, he fires a no-look shot past a fooled Bobrovsky. Hat trick for Staalsy! GOAL: STAAL (3). PENS 9, FLYERS 3.
|"now this is how im used to watching my #pens play"
5:01: After a big left pad save by Fleury at one end of the ice, the Pens head down the length of the ice. Kunitz sweeps a backhand pass to Dupuis in the slot, who tees it off so fast that if you blinked, you missed it! GOAL: DUPUIS. PENS 8, FLYERS 3
5:30: We're back to full strength. But the way this game has been unfolding, that may not be for long.
7:59: We'll be 4-on-4 for the next 2 minutes as Park goes for interference and Flyers get caught with too many men on the ice.
|"People that said @pghpenguins would go down easily in #game4 better think twice #Pens"
9:05: Sullivan has been lauded all year for his ability to carry the puck up ice on the man-advantage, and he just showed us why he's so good in that area. He just skated down the length of the ice into the slot, wound up and blasted a shot past Bobrovsky. Beautiful coast-to-coast goal. Pitt now 4-for-7 on the PP tonight. GOAL: SULLIVAN. PENS 7, FLYERS 3
|"Holy it's a powerplay fest #Pens #Flyers"
9:20: Read gives the Pens their seventh PP of the night when he hits Despres up high.
9:43: The Pens don't score on this one, but I can't even express just how much better Pittsburgh's power play looks tonight. They're forcing the normally aggressive Flyers to collapse into a box, and they're moving the puck well. They really aren't surrendering any shorthanded chances.
|"Pens! Pens! Pens! Lets Go!! Let capitalize on these pps #Pens"
11:43: And the Pens go back to the PP as Carle goes off! Pittsburgh and Philly are an identical 3-for-5 with the man-advantage so far tonight. Let's see if the Pens can pull ahead on this chance.
12:39: And Staal gets his second of the game with 11 seconds left on the man-advantage! Kennedy collects the puck at the side of the net, changes direction and hits Staal with a pass in the slot. He quickly releases it for the goal. GOAL: STAAL (2). PENS 6, FLYERS 3
14:28: Letang puts his impressive wheels on display when he jumps into the rush, gets past Grossmann and tries to protect the puck as he powers to the net. But Grossman dives and takes out Letang with his stick, sending the Pens D-man hard into the back boards. Luckily, he seems OK. Grossman goes for tripping. Pens to the PP.
16:53: And 16 seconds into the man-advantage, Letang whips a wrister short side past Bryzgalov for the score! That's off another gorgeous pass from Sid. Peter Laviolette decides to pull Bryzgalov after allowing 5 goals on 18 shots. Sergei Bobrovsky now in goal. GOAL: LETANG. PENS 5, FLYERS 3
17:09: Orpik gets high sticked behind the play and Giroux will sit. Pens right back to the power play. It looked real strong last opportunity - let's see if the Pens can convert this time.
18:00: Pens got a really good chance on that power play when they nearly dug out a rebound from under Bryzgalov's pads, but couldn't finish. Flyers back to full strength.
20:00: Puck drops to start the second. Game on in Philly! Pens begin the period on the power play, as Carle got whistled for interference as the first period ended.
This probably won't come as a surprise, but the Pens and Flyers combined for seven goals in the opening frame. And thanks to a pair of tallies in the last 3:41 of play, it's Pittsburgh who has a 4-3 lead heading into the intermission. After what went down in Sunday's Game 3, the refs are calling this game incredibly tight. They are calling everything and anything, and because of that there were seven penalties whistled (along with one to Matt Carle as the period expired). The Flyers capitalized on their chances, going 3-for-5, while the Pens went 1-for-2.
The good part is that the Pens have produced quick responses to the Flyers' goals. The Pens look calm and confident and, apart from the power-play goals allowed, look much more sound out there than they have so far this series.
- Staal and Malkin each have goals - and have been doing well in the faceoff dot.
- Staal is 6-2 on draws (75 percent) while Geno is 5-1 (83 percent).
0:00: That'll do it for the first. Pens take a 4-3 lead into the first intermission.
2:31: Staal's line swarms the net on their shift and it pays off! Tangradi does an excellent job of getting in front of Bryzgalov, which allows Staal to collect a puck just outside the blue paint and stuff it into the open net. The offense these teams have produced this series is staggering. GOAL: STAAL. PENS 4, FLYERS 3
|"That. Went. In. #Pens"
3:41: Another quick response by the Pens! Niskanen's slapshot from the point deflects off a Flyer, banks off Crosby and hits the netting just past the crossbar! It happened so fast they're going to review it to be sure, but replay shows it's definitely a goal. GOAL: CROSBY. PENS 3, FLYERS 3
4:08: And Voracek converts that man-advantage when he crashes the net, gets a pass and wires it top shelf before Fleury can slide over. Not much the Flower can do on that one. GOAL: VORACEK. FLYERS 3, PENS 2
4:38: There are 1:40 minutes left on Cooke's penalty. Flyers will be on the power play that whole time.
4:54: With 22 seconds left on the two-man advantage, Timonen's shot makes its way through traffic and between Fleury's pads. GOAL: TIMONEN. PENS 2, FLYERS 2
5:28: Flyers now on a 5-on-3 PP for the next 30 seconds.
6:08: I knew the officiating tonight would be tight, but this is really tight. Cooke is called for hi-sticking when his stick gets caught under Hartnell's arm.
6:32: The Flyers are now on a 4-on-3 power play for the next 51 seconds as Orpik is whistled for cross-checking Briere.
6:58: Now we'll be 4-on-4 for the next 1:17 minutes as Kunitz is called for interference.
7:44: And we've got another penalty. This one to Rinaldo for interference. Pens back to the PP. Let's see if they can convert this one.
8:44: With the Pens using 11 forwards, the three centers will likely take turns double shifting. With all of the special teams play during the first half, that wasn't much of an issue. But watch for Crosby, Malkin and Staal to be rotating with the fourth line during 5-on-5 play.
|"BOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!! 2-1 #Pens Wow, that crowd just got REALLY quiet. Let's keep it that way, shall we?"
11:55: What a gorgeous passing play by the Pens to capitalize on their power-play chance. Sullivan at the point hits Crosby on the wall, who threads a cross-ice pass to Niskanen. He tees it off through traffic to beat Bryzgalov! Niskanen can't wipe the smile off his face as he bumps gloves with his teammates on the bench. GOAL: NISKANEN. PENS 2, FLYERS 1
13:18: Now it's Pittsburgh's turn to head to the PP as Coburn goes off for holding. The refs are going to be calling everything and anything this game after what unfolded in Game 3. First unit for the Pens: Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Letang and Sullivan.
16:23: As Malkin steps out of the box, he receives a pass and enters the Flyers zone. He dishes over to Dupuis, who blasts a shot at Bryzgalov. Malkin neatly collects the puck off Bryzgalov's pads and slides it around the Flyers netminder into the open net. Big response by the Pens to the Flyers' early goal. GOAL: MALKIN. PENS 1, FLYERS 1
16:30: And the Pens thwart this Flyers PP with a solid kill. They got back to the identity that served them well all year, being very aggressive and challenging every puck, and it paid off.
18:31: And the Pens head right back to the penalty kill as Malkin is whistled for hooking Couturier right off the faceoff. Flyers to the PP.
18:44: Giroux receives a pass at the backdoor, and he slides the puck between the pads of Marc-Andre Fleury with 52 seconds left on the man-advantage. The Flyers are now an unbelievable 7-for-11 on the power play this series. GOAL: GIROUX. FLYERS 1, PENS 0
19:43: And the Pens will be shorthanded early as Steve Sullivan gets called for hi-sticking on Giroux. Pens to the PK against what's been an unbelievably dangerous PP this series.
|"Sweaty palms, gross. Heart palpitations, Uncomfortable. Losing 3 games & needing to win 4 in a row, Hard. Believing we can, priceless #Pens"
20:00: This is it. These next 60 minutes of hockey determine whether the Pens' season continues. It all starts with the puck drop, which is NOW! Here we go!
Head coach Dan Bylsma has decided to dress seven defensemen tonight: Despres, Orpik, Letang, Niskanen, Michalek, Engelland and Strait.
The forward line combos look like this...
Marc-Andre Fleury is in goal.
This is it. The Penguins’ season essentially has come down to these next 60 minutes of hockey. It’s do or die for the boys in black and gold, as they’re facing elimination for the first time being down 3-0 in this best-of-seven opening-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers.
A win in tonight’s Game 4 against their cross-state rival at Wells Fargo Center means the Penguins will stay alive for Game 5 on Friday in Pittsburgh.
Not only are the Penguins’ backs pressed firmly against the wall, but they’ll be going to battle in this critical contest without four regulars in their lineup: forwards James Neal (suspended for Game 4), Craig Adams (suspended for Game 4) and Arron Asham (suspended for the remainder of the series), along with defenseman Paul Martin (undisclosed injury). That means young players like Simon Despres and Eric Tangradi must step in and play their roles to the best of their abilities.
The Pens are in a most unenviable position, but they haven’t lost the confidence in their own game or the belief that they are a championship-caliber team. It isn’t going to end like this. They’ll make sure of that.
After dropping Game 3 on Sunday, the Pens had a day off Monday and practiced yesterday. They’ve had plenty of time to digest their predicament and prepare for the task that lies ahead tonight. They’re ready.
“I don’t think there is really anything that needs to be said at this point,” captain Sidney Crosby said following morning skate. “We’ve had a couple days to kind of digest everything and look at our game. We’ve talked as a group about what we need to do better and where our game is and that kind of thing. I think all the talking has been done. Now we have to go out and play.”
Though the Pens will be going to war in a hostile road environment, the best fans in hockey will be cheering them on from the western side of the state. As Crosby said yesterday, "I think this is when you lean on your fans the most." And this afternoon, the fans voiced their support for their team.