Kevin Gorman’s Take 5: Five thoughts on Penguins 5, Flyers 1 in Game 3
PHILADELPHIA — Five quick thoughts on Game 3 between the Penguins and Flyers:
1. Great in goal
Fresh off a 5-1 Game 2 victory and in their playoff home debut, the Flyers came out fast in the first period.
And Matt Murray was ready Sunday.
The Penguins goalie stoned a Nolan Patrick breakaway with a glove save, blocked Travis Sanheim after a cross-ice pass from Jori Lehtera and stopped a Scott Laughton wrister before the Penguins attempted their first official shot on goal.
— habitual linestepper (@G_Off817) April 15, 2018
Where Murray followed the Game 1 shutout by allowing a goal in the final minute of the first period in Game 2, the Penguins killed a pair of penalties in Game 3.
The Flyers had several scrambles around the net. But after allowing five goals on 19 shots Friday night, Murray stopped everything that came at him. The Penguins weathered that storm, including a PK in the final 1:43.
Turns out, they took the Flyers’ best shot and came out clean.
2. Crosby shoots and scores
Sidney Crosby followed a hat trick in Game 1 by missing three great scoring chances in Game 2, including a second-period breakaway and a point-blank shot.
As accustomed, Flyers fans at Wells Fargo Center delighted in chanting “Crosby sucks!” just before the opening faceoff.
As accustomed, Crosby silenced the Philly crowd.
After a Michael Raffl turnover, the puck bounced to Patric Hornqvist in the slot. Hornqvist passed to Crosby, who played it off his skate to the left of the post and scored a wraparound goal for a 1-0 lead at 10 minutes, 25 seconds of the first period.
Sidney Crosby opens the scoring with his fourth goal of the series pic.twitter.com/5VWO0jb6jm
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 15, 2018
The most amazing part isn’t that it was Crosby’s fourth goal of the playoffs. It’s that he could/should have seven.
3. Proving his point
Through the first two games of this series, Phil Kessel was practically invisible — at least, on the score sheet.
Before the game, Penguins radio analyst Phil Bourque dropped some serious statistics about Kessel, noting he went scoreless only four times this season.
One of those was in Game 1, the first time at home this season Kessel failed to register a shot on goal.
But Kessel was in danger of going three games without a point for the first time since a stretch from Feb. 15-18.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan didn’t seem concerned before Game 3, saying Kessel has been “in this situation at lot and knows how to respond.”
The Penguins went to great lengths to set Kessel up for a wrister from the left circle on their first power play, but Flyers goalie Brian Elliott made a glove save.
On the second power play, after Kris Letang’s shot went off Elliott’s pads and Kessel fed Derick Brassard for a shot from the left circle for a 2-0 lead at 2:48 of the second period.
Derick Brassard scores a power-play goal to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead at 2:48 of the second period. Smart play by Phil Kessel to pass instead of look to shoot off the rebound of Kris Letang’s shot.
— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) April 15, 2018
Kessel got his point across, with an assist.
4. A game decision
Sullivan was being coy when asked about Letang’s availability just two hours before Game 3, saying “all of our players are game-time decisions.”
The Penguins had no apprehension with playing Letang, despite the Game 2 second-period collision with Claude Giroux that caused a cut on his hand and concerns of a concussion.
Sullivan said Letang didn’t require concussion protocol, and called his absence at Saturday’s practice a maintenance day.
Not only did Letang get a secondary assist on Brassard’s goal but Letang also set up Evgeni Malkin’s 4-on-3 goal at 6:48 of the second period for a 3-0 lead.
Imagine trying to kill a 4 on 3 against Crosby Kessel Malkin and Letang. Good luck. #Penguins
— Daver (@Daver_16) April 15, 2018
Letang appears to be just fine.
5. That was fast
Defenseman Brian Dumoulin followed Malkin’s goal with one of his own only five seconds later.
Not only did Dumoulin become the 13th Penguins player to score a goal against the Flyers this season, but it was a franchise record for fastest back-to-back goals in a playoff game.
aaaaand another goal for Pittsburgh pic.twitter.com/NF1CVBx9o7
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) April 15, 2018
The old record, set by Ron Stackhouse and Rick Kehoe against Boston in 1980, stood for 38 years.
Fastest two goals in Penguins playoff history. Old record was 7 seconds by Ron Stackhouse and Rick Kehoe vs. Boston in 1980.
— Jonathan Bombulie (@BombulieTrib) April 15, 2018
When Justin Schultz added a power-play goal in the third period, he became the 14th Penguins player to score against the Flyers. If you’re counting, only Letang, Zach Aston-Reese, Olli Maatta, Chad Ruhwedel and Riley Sheahan haven’t scored against the Flyers this season.
There’s still time.
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.