Pennsylvania Wrestlemania: Flyers, Pens Heating Up For Possible ECQ Matchup
Hard hitting, desperation saves and a little bit of extra-curricular activities sprinkled in.
Perhaps, it was a look at what the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals has in store for the Flyers and Penguins. 60 minutes of full throttle hockey with the addition of the playoffs, and the hockey world will be in store for another classic Flyers/Penguins series.
Sunday afternoon's battle - as well as one more game next Saturday afternoon to finish the season - was a preview of the almost inevitable 4/5-seed match up between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Philadelphia scored five straight goals after trailing 2-0 in the first period to beat the Penguins, 6-3, on the road. Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovksy stopped 43 shots, improving to 5-0 at the CONSOL Energy Center in his career.
It was another classic between the two teams. It was also another slow start for the Flyers, who found themselves in an early 2-0 hole five minutes into the game.
Steve Sullivan scored off a really weird goal off the back of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky only a minute and 16 seconds into the game. James Neal was then left unattended and he buried his 39th past Bobrovsky to make it 2-0.
The Flyers got one back with less than five minutes in the first off a dirty goal typically created by Scott Hartnell. Claude Giroux flipped the puck towards the net and Zbynek Michalek checked Hartnell into goalie Marc Andre Fleury and the puck trickled in to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Flyers tied it up early in the second on a fantastic play by both Zac Rinaldo and Max Talbot. After Talbot's play got the puck into the zone, Rinaldo threw a shot wide of the net but a charging Talbot tipped it out of midair and past Fleury to tie it up.
They finally took the lead in the third on one of the best power play cycles the team has had all season.
Giroux, Hartnell and the defense were passing the puck across the slot, getting chance after chance. It wasn't until Jake Voracek found Wayne Simmonds on the front porch to bury one past Fleury to make it a 3-2 game.
With Philadelphia on a roll, rookie Eric Wellwood (also making an incredible case for the playoff roster), sent a gorgeous outlet pass to Jakub Voracek, who went in alone on Fleury and beat him with the backhand to make it 4-2.
Marc Andre Bourdon's blast late in the third gave the Flyers a 5-2 lead and an empty netter by Voracek, his second of the game, made it 6-3.
The Flyers played most of the game a man short. Nicklas Grossmann was injured in the first period when he took a knee-to-knee hit from Joe Vitale. He did not return after that play.
PENS, FLYERS HEAT UP IN FINAL MINUTE -- The Flyers won 6-4, the outcome that will be seen in tomorrow's box score.
But the main story comes with a minute left in the game. After 59 minutes of hard fought hockey, the blood bath finally ensued.
Joe Vitale, who injured Nicklas Grossmann in the first period on a knee-to-knee hit, laid out Danny Briere at center ice on a clean hit that fueled a brawl.
Former Flyer Aaron Asham attacked Brayden Schenn, Simmonds and Derek Engelland tied up as well as Craig Adams and Bourdon. Even the coaches went at it as Peter Laviolette and Dan Bylsma exchanged words across the benches.
After things began to settle down, Asham went after Zac Rinaldo, who came off the bench to play on the next shift. Both got a 10-minute game misconduct as well as a handful of other Penguins and Flyers in the final minute.
It will only get more intense once the stakes get raised in the playoffs next week.