Pens drop heartbreaker to Flyers, 6-5
Lesson learned? Apparently not.
The Penguins have displayed a responsible style throughout most of this season, but old habits — and an old nemesis — beat them Wednesday.
In a game reminiscent of last season's playoff series, Philadelphia fell behind early before taking advantage of Penguins' mistakes in a 6-5 thriller at Consol Energy Center.
“It was entertaining for the fans,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said of the wide-open affair. “But I don't think it's conducive to winning.”
Philadelphia is 6-1 all-time at Consol Energy Center and, including the postseason, 8-2 in the Penguins' new home.
Jakub Voracek scored the game-winner with 1:31 remaining, banking a shot off goalie Tomas Vokoun to finish off a hat trick. Penguins center Brandon Sutter had evened the game 32 seconds earlier.
The Penguins played the kind of game that haunted them in the past against the Flyers.
The Penguins fell to the Flyers in six surreal playoff games last spring, allowing 30 goals. That series left an impression on the Penguins, who have said emphatically that they must play a more controlled, conservative game.
They had through the first month.
Then, the Flyers came to town.
“It was crazy,” right wing Craig Adams said. “It felt like the playoffs. Those are the types of games we're trying to stay away from.”
The Flyers scored in bunches and irritated the Penguins, themes that remained consistent from last season's playoffs. Instead of clamping down with the lead, the Penguins engaged in up-tempo hockey and often hit back after Philadelphia initiated fisticuffs.
Although the Penguins took a 2-0 lead, Nicklass Grossmann and Wayne Simmonds scored within 60 seconds of each other in the first period to even the score. Voracek then scored twice in a 28-second span to put the Flyers ahead early in the third period.
The up-and-down nature isn't what the Penguins wanted.
“Look at the teams that had success in the playoffs last year,” Orpik said. “They played the exact opposite.”
James Neal pulled the Penguins within a goal with 7:14 remaining, and then after Chris Kunitz's goal was disallowed because it was kicked in, Brandon Sutter brought the Consol Energy Center crowd to its feet with the game-tying goal with 2:03 remaining.
Still, the Flyers remained unfazed.
“Just a weird game,” Adams said.
After goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov made a spectacular save on Matt Cooke, the Flyers raced into Penguins' territory and produced the game-winner when Voracek banked a shot off Vokoun.
“He just shot it from behind the net, and I knocked it in my own net,” Vokoun said. “That's tough. Our guys battled hard, tied the game. And then, a goal goes in like that. That's a back-breaker. Sometimes, that's just the way hockey is.”
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma was disappointed with his team's lack of composure. The Penguins were short-handed six times.
“I think we got too emotional,” he said. “Too involved in extracurriculars. It took away from the game.”
The Penguins fell into the Flyers' trap. Again.
“I don't know how many times you can address it,” Orpik said. “We know how they like to play. We know they like to target certain guys on our team. Zac Rinaldo goes off with (Kris Letang). I think that's a pretty good trade-off for them. I don't know if you can address it anymore. Talking about it doesn't do you any good if you go out and do the opposite.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
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