PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Heading into the playoffs, the Penguins had really good special teams numbers, tied for fifth in the entire league on the power play and the third best penalty killing team.
However, in this series there seems to be nothing special for special teams as the Philadelphia Flyers continue to completely own the Penguins who seem to have no answers.
After the Flyers took the first two games here in Pittsburgh, the series turned to the Wells Fargo Center for Game 3 Sunday afternoon.
The Penguins were looking to turn things around after blowing multiple leads in their two home losses; instead, they once again blew an early 1-0 lead on their way to a brawl-filled, 8-4 defeat.
James Neal and Jordan Staal provided the offense for the Penguins. Meanwhile, Marc-Andre Fleury made 22 saves before giving way to backup Brent Johnson in the third period.
“[The Flyers] have some scoring chances, but I’ve got to make some key saves and try to keep my team into it, and it seems like every time they have one, they seem to bury it,” said Fleury after the game.
For the Flyers, Max Talbot, Danny Briere and Matt Read scored two goals each. Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux also had goals in the win.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 31 saves in the win.
KDKA’s Lynne Hayes-Freeland has more from fans:
Three players were also tossed before the end of the first period, including Arron Asham as well as top Pens’ defenseman Kris Letang and top Flyers’ defenseman Kimmo Timonen.
Pens’ captain Sidney Crosby ignited the scrum when he twice jabbed one of the Flyer’s gloves against the ice. Giroux, who is third in the NHL in points this season, then shoved Crosby from behind.
Timonen and Letang then exchanged shots, and Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek and Pittsburgh’s Steve Sullivan each were penalized for roughing.
Timonen and Letang were both hit with 5 minutes for fighting and were ejected because they were assessed a major penalty after the original fight had started.
Later in the period, Flyers’ forward Brayden Schenn rammed Paul Martin into the boards, turned around and was shoved to the ice by Asham. Asham then jumped Schenn and connected with a vicious right to earn a match penalty.
The Penguins were assessed with 46 penalty minutes, and the Flyers 34, through the first two periods.
In the third period, Neal flattened Philadelphia’s Sean Couturier in the waning minutes, sending the rookie center to the locker room. Players from both teams — including Schenn and Crosby — had to then be separated during a melee along the boards.
As the game wound down, Crosby yanked the back of Scott Hartnell’s jersey and the fireworks went off again. Simmonds, Neal and Pittsburgh’s Craig Adams also were socked with penalties.
As for the goals, Staal struck first, but in what has seemed to become habit against the Flyers, the Penguins squandered the early lead on their way to being routed again by their bitter, cross-state rivals.
Staal scored only 3:52 into the game to give the Pens the first goal for the third straight game. It marked the 13th time out of the last 15 games the Flyers have trailed 1-0. At that point, the Flyers had been outscored 7-1 in the first period in this series.
A few minutes later, Talbot tapped a rebound toward Fleury, which the Penguins’ goalie tried to stab at with his glove. But the puck ended up trickling by for the tying goal.
Briere scored consecutive goals off a 5-on-3 power play and a one-timer to leave Fleury reeling.
Neal scored the first of his two goals to make it 3-1. Read ended the period when he snagged the puck behind the net, skated around and buried it for a 4-2 lead.
Neal and Read swapped goals to open the second. Staal then knocked in a rebound to help the Penguins close to 5-4.
“Managing the puck, too many turnovers, them capitalizing and coming right back at us,” said Neal after the game. “You know, every time we put the puck in the net it seems like they [came] right back and put it in the back of ours.
Simmonds then took a perfect entry pass from Braydon Coburn and backhanded in the fastbreak attempt for an insurance goal.
Giroux scored 27 seconds into the third on Philadelphia’s first shot of the period. And Talbot ended the scoring with a power play goal as time was winding down.
The Penguins will have a few days to regroup as they now face elimination in Game 4, which will be played on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Philadelphia.
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