Penguins notebook: Special teams flexes power in Game 3 rout
PHILADELPHIA — Given the Penguins had the most efficient power play in franchise history during the regular season, it seemed unlikely the Flyers could keep the unit quiet for an entire best-of-seven playoff series.
On Sunday afternoon, the Penguins’ power play made a loud statement.
Derick Brassard, Evgeni Malkin and Justin Schultz scored second-period goals with the man advantage as the Penguins rolled to a 5-1 victory in Game 3 of the first-round series.
The Penguins were 1 for 8 on the power play in the first two games. They went 3 for 7 on Sunday.
The first goal Sunday was scored by a mixture of the team’s two power-play personnel groups.
Phil Kessel, a member of the first unit, corralled a puck down low and made a nifty pass to Brassard, a member of the second unit, for a shot into the top corner from the bottom of the left faceoff circle to make it 2-0 early in the second period.
The second goal came on a Malkin one-timer from the right circle during a four-on-three advantage four minutes later. Schultz’s goal came on a blast from the center point in the third period.
“It’s going to win you games, especially this time of the year,” Brassard said. “There’s a lot of talent in this room, this group here. This is the best (power play) the entire regular season. It’s just a matter (of time) before they connect. We work on it every day.”
In addition to thriving on the power play, the Penguins enjoyed a spotless, 6-for-6 effort from their penalty kill Sunday. The Flyers scored two power-play goals in Game 2 on Friday night.
“I think what we did well tonight is we didn’t give them that freebie, that backdoor tap-in goal that really is indefensible from a goaltender’s standpoint,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “And Matt Murray, I thought, was our best penalty killer tonight. He made some big saves for us.”
You’re in big trouble
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has proven throughout his career he can handle the adversity playing on the road sometimes brings.
That includes, apparently, being urinated upon in effigy.
According to social media reports, a fan placed photos of Crosby in the bottom of the urinals in all the men’s rooms at the Wells Fargo Center before Sunday’s game.
Crosby, who had a goal and three assists, didn’t seem upset about the gesture.
“That’s not the first building that’s happened in,” Crosby said. “I don’t know if they stole that idea from someone else.”
It’s fairly common practice at this time of year in the NHL. Coaches, when seated in front of a microphone and cameras, will use the moment to lobby for favorable calls from officials or favorable rulings on possible suspensions from the league’s department of player safety.
Sullivan never uses such rhetoric.
After Claude Giroux clobbered Kris Letang in an open-ice collision in Game 2, Sullivan said he had an opinion about what happened, but he’d keep it to himself. When it was clear Giroux wasn’t going to be suspended, Sullivan again declined to comment Saturday.
Sullivan said he takes that tact, in part, as an example for his players to follow.
“Because I’m not sure it’s productive. I’m not sure it’s effective,” he said before Sunday’s game. “It’s a distraction from what our team is trying to accomplish. So we’re going to focus on what we can control, and that’s our team, our effort, our execution and that’s where all of our focus is and it starts with me.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.