Kasperi Kapanen stole one puck and moments later stole a second with a sneaky backcheck. The Pittsburgh Penguins winger zipped a pass to the front of the Flyers net and teammate Jason Zucker, who smoothly spun to his backhand for a video game-like goal midway through the third period.
Zucker’s ninth goal of the season gave the Penguins a 4-2 lead and enough breathing room to get past the Philadelphia Flyers 7-3 at Wells Fargo Center.
Sidney Crosby scored two goals (22, 23). Evgeni Malkin had a pair of secondary assists as his legs and timing appeared to take a step forward, too. They were part of four Penguins with two points. Jake Guentzel and Marcus Pettersson were the others.
Penguins defenseman, and former Flyer, Mark Friedman was again a center of attention and physical contact from the Flyers. Friedman fought Joel Farabee in the second period. Friedman (2) scored an empty-net goal but was cross-checked hard into the boards as he celebrated by Philadelphia defenseman Shayne Ghostisbere.
“(Those are) just plays you don’t really want to see out there,” Penguins winger Jake Guentzel said. “You don’t want to go too much into it, but you don’t want to see stuff like that in the games. So, we got the job done getting two points.”
The Penguins sent a message on the ensuing power play in the final minutes when John Marino (3) whipped a wrister for the Penguins’ second power-play goal of the game.
The win momentarily put the Penguins back in first place, two points ahead of the Washington Capitals, though Washington has two games in hand.
The Penguins quickly rebounded from their otherwise flatline performance on Monday night and pushed the play against the Flyers in the first period. Bryan Rust led all players with three shots in the first period and whizzed past Flyers defensemen on a couple of rushes.
The Penguins’ first goal came from an unlikely source in a very unlikely way. After the Penguins pushed the puck deep on several consecutive rushes, Jared McCann set up defenseman Marcus Pettersson, who was skating towards the net. Pettersson (2) cut across the crease and with his lanky reach pulled the puck around Flyers goalie Brian Elliott. 1-0.
It was Pettersson’s first goal since the third game of the season.
“It was a great goal,” defense partner John Marino said. “l haven’t seen that from him for a little while but we’re giving him a hard time about it. That was an awesome play. It was great to see him get that one.”
The teams loosened up in the second period with a pair of goals on each side and the Penguins were in danger of losing their second 3-0 lead to the Philadelphia Flyers this season.
First, the Pittsburgh Penguins scored a power-play goal early in the second period. It was their third PPG in two games against the Flyers’ 30th ranked PK (the Penguins later scored a second power-play goal of the game). After extended zone pressure, the Penguins shrank the zone and pressured the Philadelphia penalty kill. Jake Guentzel’s (23) shot was mostly blocked, but it kept sliding past a sprawled Elliott. 2-0.
Pettersson earned his second point when his point shot was deflected but Sidney Crosby (22) whacked the wayward puck into the net. 3-0.
However, the Penguins yielded the next two goals to add drama to the third period.
The Flyers crashed the net and outnumbered the Penguins defenders later in the second period. Defensive defenseman Justin Braun grabbed the puck out of the scrum and snapped it past Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry. 3-1.
In the waning minutes, Sean Couturier (16_ was given credit for the second Philadelphia goal when his centering pass his Jeff Carter in the slot. The hard deflection fooled Jarry. 3-2.
After a slop fest on Monday night in which the Flyers outshot the Penguins 45-37, both teams made a point to pay attention to their own zone, which necessitated (and enabled) the fluky goals.
“I think there’s a lot of history there. A good chunk of guys on each team has been a part of this rivalry for a while. And regardless of the situation, I think that seems to be the case,” Crosby said. “They seem to be more intense and more emotional, and that should bring out everyone’s best.”
After Zucker’s goal, Travis Konecny scored the second Philadelphia goal without an actual shot. Jarry stopped Claude Giroux’s corner shot, but the rebound hit Konecny’s and John Marino’s skates in the crease and caromed past Jarry. 4-3.
Crosby scored his second goal of the game later in the third period with a wicked top-shelf one-timer from the left-wing circle.
Jarry stopped 30 of 33 shots.
PHN’s Pittsburgh Penguins 3 Stars
- Bryan Rust
Rust was the star of the first period. When the Crosby line lagged, he carried the puck and pushed the play. Rust missed most of the second period after Travis Konecny clipped him from behind, but Rust finished with an assist and a +2 rating.
- Tristan Jarry
The Penguins were far from perfect on Tuesday night. When they made mistakes, Jarry bailed them out, including a breakaway save on Claude Giroux, followed by another point-blank save on Giroux in the third period.
1. Sidney Crosby
Two goals, physical play, and he got stronger as the game progressed. Crosby has been in a mini-slump but was the Penguins’ best player in the third period.