Sunday, March 24, 2013

Flyers can't close deal, drop OT decision to Pens

Pittsburgh, PA -- Tyler Kennedy's marker with 2:27 remaining in  overtime sent the Pittsburgh Penguins to their 12th straight win, courtesy of a 2-1 decision over Philadelphia at CONSOL Energy Center.

Kennedy  cranked one  home  from  the left  circle,  beating  a screened  Ilya Bryzgalov  over his  shoulder to the near  post for the game winner, capping a rally from a late one-goal deficit.

“I knew they were coming out hard on 'Nisky',” said Kennedy. “Nisky made an unbelievable pass and I just shot at the net.”

Sidney  Crosby  also scored for  the Penguins, who hung  tough and did not let their  in-state rivals play the role of streak buster for the second time in a little more than a year.

Pittsburgh had won 11 in a row until a March 18, 2012 date in Philadelphia, but the  Flyers' Scott Hartnell put an end to that run on his tally with less than a second remaining in OT to give the Flyers a 3-2 victory.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves for the Eastern Conference leaders, who announced prior to the game the acquisition of veteran forward Brenden Morrow from the Dallas Stars.

Three of the Pens' last four wins have come by one goal but that doesn't take away from this run, which is the longest in the NHL this season. Chicago won 11 straight en route to going 24 games from the start of the season with at least one point.

“I think tonight we were much better and got rewarded eventually for it,” Crosby said. “But we've got to make sure we are playing the right way no matter what the results are. That was a good step tonight to kind of getting our game back.”

Claude Giroux tallied and Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 33 shots for the Flyers, who have lost six of their last eight outings but managed to pick up a point for the first time in those defeats.

“We needed that other point,” said Giroux. “We played a good game tonight. Defensively we played well and Bryz made some big saves for us tonight. But, we gave up that 5-on-3 goal and lost the point in overtime.”

One bright spot in the setback, was that Giroux finished 17-for-28 (61 percent) on faceoffs, including 6-for-9 (67 percent) against Crosby.  

The  visitors  began to flirt  with disaster as  Wayne Simmonds was called for slashing  with  7:08 left in regulation.  Chris Kunitz was stoned early in the advantage, as Bryzgalov turned away his backhander with 6:45 on the clock, but immediately thereafter, the hosts were given a two-man edge when Kimmo Timonen
sat for hooking Kunitz on the chance.

Crosby  evened the game  31 seconds later on a one-timer from the right circle off  a  dish from Paul  Martin, but the visitors  were able to prevent further damage during the following 5-on-4.

“That 5-on-3 was questionable,” Brayden Schenn pointed out. “They weren’t calling much all game and they have a great power play. But they made us pay. We came here for two points and only got one. One is O.K. but we wanted the two.”

Fleury  made a trio  of saves -- one on Simmonds and two on Andrej Meszaros at the right post -- early in overtime to prolong the contest.

In  a tight-checking  first period,  Fleury  stopped six  shots and  Bryzgalov halted all nine he faced.

The  Flyers finally snapped a scoreless tie in the late stages of a power play with  5:51 remaining in the second. Giroux carried into the Pittsburgh zone on the  left wing,  and though his initial  shot was blocked by Tanner Glass, the rebound came back to the captain for a second successful chance.

Bryzgalov  made a  huge stop  with 8:13  left in  regulation. A  failed Philly clearing  attempt skipped back into the Penguins' attack zone, caromed off the stick  of Flyers defenseman  Luke Schenn and right to Kunitz, but his chop out of the air from atop the crease was trapped.

Notes: Philadelphia  fell  to 8-2-1 all-time in  this arena, and 6-1-1 in the regular season  ... Pittsburgh has scored five goals when enjoying a 5-on-3 power play this  year  ... The Flyers played  without forward Danny Briere and defenseman Nicklas  Grossmann,  both listed  as day-to-day with  an upper-body injury ... Harry  Zolnierczyk returned  from a four-game suspension to take Briere's slot and  Kurtis Foster  subbed for  Grossmann ...  The Penguins  did not  have the services of either forward Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang ... Philly hasn't won a game in overtime in Pittsburgh since a 4-3 result on Apr. 5, 1986 ...  Morrow and a  third-round pick in 2013 came to the Steel City for defense prospect Joe Morrow and a fifth-round selection in the upcoming June draft ... The Penguins' triumph was played in front of an arena-record 18,662 patrons.

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