The Pittsburgh Penguins entered Game Three of the Stanley Cup Quarterfinals knowing that they needed to gain some ground on the Philadelphia Flyers if they wanted to make it out of the first round. Between the hole they dug themselves in at home and the already tense rivalry with the Flyers, there was every reason to believe this game was going to be chippier than usual.
It didn’t even take one period before the officials completely lost control of the game.
Early shoves traded between Zac Rinaldo and Deryk Engelland resulted in four-on-four hockey that Jordan Staal was able to capitalize on. The Penguins were not only applying heavy pressure and outshooting the Flyers, but a questionable high-sticking penalty to Jake Voracek gave them another powerplay.
In spite of the advantage, the Flyers responded as they have all series to this point.
Max Talbot scored shorthanded at the 6:44 mark on an odd bounce that somehow eluded Fleury. For as “soft” as Bryzgalov’s stop was, Fleury’s was even worse.
The key for Pittsburgh to come back in this series was getting their star players to focus on what they do best- scoring goals. It’s not as if Bryzgalov had been playing “lights out” to this point in the series.
Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, though, they lost their composure early on and attempted to draw the Flyers into physical game that didn’t play to their strengths.
The first melee broke out immediately after Talbot’s goal with pairings of Claude Giroux/Matt Niskanen, Talbot/Paul Martin, and, of all people, Matt Carle/Matt Cooke.
Once the ice shavings settled, the officials called Niskanen and Giroux to the box but gave an extra penalty to Niskanen. Less than a minute later, the officials followed up with a weak cross-checking call on Kris Letang. Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette opted to use his time-out to motivate his players to take advantage of the 5-on-3 situation.
Danny Briere, “Mr. Playoffs” himself, did just that, calmly shooting top shelf thanks to a crisp pass from Scott Hartnell.
Briere tallied his second of the night (and fourth of the playoffs) at the 11:45 mark after collecting a great outlet pass from Wayne Simmonds.
The “pot boiled over” shortly thereafter, as Sidney Crosby took a few extra whacks at Bryzgalov after the whistle and drew the Flyers’ ire. Again, if you’re Crosby, this is how you have to play- take the couple of shots and hope for the puck to come loose, but know that you’re going to get a facewash from some Flyers, and then move on.
Instead, Giroux and Crosby had words that spilled over into a fight. Crosby made another puerile gesture by batting Voracek’s glove away on the ice, at which point Timonen stepped up to defend his teammate. Moments later, Timonen found himself fighting with Kris Letang (a fight in which he lost badly), and both defensemen were subsequently thrown from the game.
When asked what he thought about the Crosby/Giroux fight, Laviolette quipped, “I thought it was great. I mean, in the end, that’s really playoff hockey, isn’t it?… Would I rather have G keep his gloves on? Sure, but when he’s fighting Sidney Crosby, that’s playoff hockey, that’s this series. In the end, that’s probably what it’s about.”
The bad blood continued to spill over just a few shifts later, as Brayden Schenn finished a clean hit on defenseman Paul Martin and Arron Asham immediately followed up with a cross-check to his face. While Schenn was on the ice, Asham threw yet another punch to his head. Schenn inexplicably earned a charging penalty from the hit on Martin, but Asham was called for a match penalty and ejected from the game.
“As far as Asham, I really haven’t seen too much of a replay, but I think he gets him in the chest area… gets pushed up in… further up, so.. it’s … [inaudible]… I’m sure they’ve already been looking at the situation,” said coach Dan Bylsma, when asked about the hit.
James Neal cut the Flyers’ two goal lead on the four-on-four that played out between Schenn and Asham’s penalties, but Matt Read brought it back just 23 seconds later.
The second period was not nearly as violent as the first, but the losses of Timonen and Letang weakened already suspect defenses for both teams. Both Neal and Read each scored their second goals of the game midway through the period on powerplays.
Jordan Staal and Wayne Simmonds also scored in the second.
Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma pulled Fleury after the second period in an attempt to stop the bleeding and wake up his team, but it would prove fruitless. Jaromir Jagr, shielding the puck from the Penguins’ defense close to the crease early in the third period, fed it back to Giroux who then scored on back-up goaltender Brent Johnson. It was the first shot he faced.
With the game under wraps at 7-4, it would have served the officials well to call the game as tightly as possible to prevent any more mischief on the ice. Instead, the Penguins continued to unravel and resorted to multiple attempts at headshots and dirty hits.
Neal astonishingly avoided getting thrown from the game after running Sean Couturier away from the puck with a blatant elbow to the head and then running after Giroux with the same hit on the very next shift.
Crosby attempted to pull Hartnell away from Neal following the hits, but it only resulted in Hartnell shoving #87 at the Penguins’ bench and fourth liner Craig Adams running in to protect his captain.
By the time the game was over, 133 penalty minutes were doled out between the two clubs.
“I think with the way the game was called, there was a lot of extracurricular activities during and after the plays,” said coach Dan Bylsma. “That’s an area of the game we want to stay away from. We don’t want to be involved in those situations against this team and we want to stay whistle-to-whistle and minimize the number of penalties in the game, not create those scenarios… but emotions are high and you saw it numerous times tonight spill over from both teams.”
Max Talbot added an insurance marker to end the game 8-4 for Philadelphia.
It will be interesting to see how the NHL responds to this game, if they do anything. There is certainly an argument to be made for Asham, Neal, and Adams missing Game Four. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pittsburgh recalls enforcer Steve MacIntyre for Wednesday.
Byslma did make one commitment: “I have not talked to him, but Marc-Andre is playing in our net in Game Four.”
Laviolette was asked in the post-game press conference if his team had an advantage in knowing what it’s like to play a team down 3-0 in a series, alluding to being in that situation in 2010 and 2011 against the Boston Bruins. “My team? My team hasn’t been down 0-3.”
“Some of the players on the team have.”
“Yeah, but this team hasn’t.”
Game Four starts at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers will have a chance to clear the first round with another win and gain some much needed rest as they continue their quest for the Cup.
Thirteen more “Knock Knocks” to go.
Crosby is the best player in the world no question. But what a joke he was in this game? Stirring crap and crying. Loosing respect for him. Flyers definitely have their number. Get it over with flyers.
Flyers definetly have the Pens number. Just like the Rangers have the Flyers number. If Bryz could actually help the team actually win a game this Flyers team could actually have a shot the way they are playing.. Really getting excited with the Flyers. Just need Bryz to play better. Nothing better than playoff hockey. If they could bottle these games up and promote this product with all the scoring this sport would appeal to more people.
I know everyone is excited as I am about the Flyers beign up 3-0
One thing to keep in mind is this is one of worst defensive performances by both Teams Defenses that I witnessed in Playoff Hockey in some time…
WHoever their next opponent is will be not letting Players campe out in front and have th eopen space to manuever and pass and shoot like this Penquins Defense has (and how the Floyers Defense has allowed the Penquins forwards..) the Big diffense is that Bryz has made couple of big saves where Fluery has not… Another words, cash in the chips but be prepared for the next Series to be a lot more tighter out in front with better goaltending..
These games have been fun to watch, but lots of mistakes all over the ice by both sides..
I have never in my life, seen such a bunch of cheap shot, whiny, punk biatches, like Crosby & the Pens. They got away with murder again, ALL GAME! No penalty on the Couturier hit, until all hell broke loose. Even up penalties, etc. etc. The biggest joke was the refs jumping in & saving Crosby’s @$$ during every scrum, & leaving a non-fighting, minuscule Timonen to get clobbered & Crosby waiting for the refs to step in, before throwing a punch. What a little punk, maggot & the word beginning with an F that rhymes! Hair grabbing too! What is this GLOW women’s wrestling? WTF!!! I hope he gets laid out in game 4, so I don’t have to see that buck toothed punk biatches smile again. I hate him & his team of punks. He said in his post game interview, “That he did what he did because he hates every player on this team.” Don’t worry about it, WE HATE YOU TOO, YOU PUNK LITTLE WEASEL!
I hope Gary Bettman chokes on Crosby’s spunk, because he protects his little girlfriend & his little team of merry men. I hope we blow them out again & sweep their tootsie @$$e$, then I’d like to see the look on Bettman’s face, when his pu$$y golden boy is swept!
This series not over, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves…
Refs lost control of game.
If Flyers have lead next game, 3rd period and Penguins get dirty, I expect Laviollete to grab Pens coach & punch him in the face…He makes decisions not Crosby.
frank, your right every time I see BILEsma’s face, I want to reach through the TV & smash his face in. What an arrogant, cowardly, creep. Laviolette would beat his @$$. The refs lost control, because they are blatantly protecting these punk biatch, turds, & letting them get away with murder. I’m not the one to ever complain about, nor make excuses about officiating, but it is as obvious, as the nose on our faces. Bury them next game, & get it over with! SCUMBAGS!
Oh stop whinning. I see Couturier giving little cheap shots all over the ice to. They all do it. As far as Crosby goes hes 160 pounds. lol He cant give out to much damage. Most of the players arent very big thats why they can play 3-4 nights a week they dont hit hard enough. This is great TV. To the casual fan all the scoring all the fights this is very entertaining. Simmons and Hartnell look like they love this shit.
dagg, wtf games are you watching? LOL!!! Couturier giving cheap shots? See last comment. It’s not fun watching your players get run, cheap shot, head hunted & players that don’t fight, getting jumped. Not to mention, the refs blatant incompetence & favortism. Come on dagg!!! LMFBO!!!
Relax DCar they arent 10 years old. They can handle it. They got cheap shots we get it. Stop crying about it. We are up 3 -0. Bring the pain on Wed . What are we gonna do keep whining about it?
Not whining, stating fact. We bring the thunder Weds, & send them home like the punk pusses they are.
don’t forget our bet, Paulman
and Car, I’m right there with you on Bylsma. He’s an arrogant, smug, weasel- All the way. That Crosby fight with G. They’re holding on to each other goin in circles… G, just thinks they’re clutching and yelling and as soon as the refs get close he throws a punch. You knew damn well that G didn’t think they were fighting until he got punched. Crosby’s just a B**ch
There is a difference between a quick slash or extra crosscheck in the back and what Asham and Neal did. Both of the players were completely out of control.
And as for Crosby, he is starting fights that he knows that he will not have to finish. See his effort with Hartnell last night. Danny B is smaller than him and when he scraps, he scraps. Saw him try to fight Chara last year.
I will make good on our bet Boyer, what was it $10 Bucks.. or that I have to stay off GCobb until the 2014 Season..
They had the opportunity to stand up and I was very dissapointed in Brayden Schenn. He had the 1 opportunity in life to be remembered for all-time no matter what he ever did the rest of his career. All he had to do is drop the gloves and tune Crosby up and the place would of erupted. He would of become legendary in this town. He decided not to. Still cant figure out why.
yup, 10 smackers