Bill Meltzer: Flyers-Penguins Wrapup: In War of a Game, Flyers Prevail 3-2 in OT

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Be sure to ‘like’ Hockeybuzz on Facebook! FLYERS-PENGUINS WRAPUP: IN WAR OF A GAME, PHILLY PREVAILS 3-2 IN OT

Any time the Philadelphia Flyers meet up with the Pittsburgh Penguins, there is a good chance that emotions and tempers will run high. Playing for the fifth time in seven nights and bringing a lot of frustrations into their final game before the All-Star break, a game against their arch-rivals was a good antidote for heavy legs.

The Flyers prevailed, 3-2, on an overtime power play goal by Claude Giroux. Luke Schenn and Chris VandeVelde scored in regulation for the Flyers. Ray Emery had an outstanding game in goal, turning back 33 of 35 shots.

Chris Kunitz scored a shorthanded goal early in the second period to tie the game. Beau Bennett gave the Penguins a brief lead in the third period on a play set up to perfection by Evgeni Malkin. Losing goaltender Thomas Greiss turned back 37 of 40 shots.

Philadelphia incurred 59 minutes worth of penalties and the Penguins received 34. The Flyers’ bottom-ranked penalty kill stepped up to go six-for-six against the fifth-ranked power play in the NHL. Meanwhile, the Flyers’ own sixth-ranked power play was 0-for-5 with a shorthanded goal allowed before Giroux netted the game-winner on the Flyers’ sixth power play.

The fight-filled and often chippy game saw the Flyers receive 59 penalty minutes to 34 for the Penguins. There were four fights in the game — Michael Raffl versus Zach Sill, Voracek versus Rob Scuderi, Luke Schenn versus Steve Downie and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare versus Bobby Farnham.

Flyer forward Zac Rinaldo is likely to receive a lengthy suspension for a hit from behind that injured Penguins’ defenseman Kris Letang midway through the first period. The Penguins got a five-minute power play that Philadelphia managed to kill. 1ST PERIOD

The game started with the goal light accidentally being turned on as Sidney Crosby carried the puck over the blueline. No actual goal — or scoring chance — happened.

Both teams tried to set an early physical tone, as expected. Rinaldo in particular came out throwing his body around with reckless abandon.

The Flyers caught a break at about the four-minute mark. A loose puck sat in the crease and Nick Spaling arrived a shad e too late and chipped it wide.

At 5:34, Rinaldo received an offensive-zone cross-checking penalty. As the kill neared the 50-second mark, Emery stopped a flurry of chances in close. The early game shot total grew to 9-0 as the kill reached the halfway mark The Flyers got through the rest without the Pens being able to get set up again.

RInaldo went offside carrying the puck up ice on the rush at 7:53. Shots at this point were 11-0 in the Penguins’ favor.

The Flyers continued to get hemmed in their own end for the next several minutes. With 8:05 left in the period, Greiss held onto a puck that was dumped in from outside the offensive zone. was very charitably credited with the Flyers first shot on goal, and just the team’s second attempt (Carlo Colaiacovo missed the net on an earlier attempt).

As sometimes happens in hockey, the Flyers scored on their second official shot and first genuine shot to make it 1-0 despite being thoroughly outplayed.

Luke Schenn collected a Bennett turnover at the center point and fired a shot on net that found its way home through traffic Schenn’s second goal of the season, scored at 13:11 was unassisted.

The Schenn goal gave the Flyers some life and they spent the next couple shifts in the Penguins’ end of the ice. A Brayden Schenn shot attempt got blocked in the medium slot but the territorial play belonged to the Flyers.

With 4:25 left in the first period, Rinaldo delivered a terrible hit on Kris Letang. Staring at Letang’s numbers the whole time, Rinaldo hit Letang from behind into the boards. Letang was tended to by the Penguins trainer and Rinaldo received a boarding major and game misconduct. It is a virtual certainty that supplementary discipline will follow from the NHL.

The Penguins went on a five-minute power play. Emery made a pair of tough saves and then Christian Ehrhoff hit the post with a blast from the point. With 52 seconds left in the period, Luke Schenn blocked a shot and cleared it the length of the ice.

Shots in the first period were 17-3 Penguins. Faceoffs were 9-8 Flyers. 2ND PERIOD

Voracek served the remaining time on the Rinaldo minor. Seconds after exiting the box, Voracek got a scoring chance from the right circle.

At 1:55 of the second period, Michael Raffl and Pittsburgh’s Zach Sill dropped the gloves. Raffl started out well but Sill won late. On the same play, Craig Adams received a cross-checking minor for a stick infraction on Raffl. The Flyers went on their first power play.

For the second straight game, the Flyers yielded a shorthanded goal. Streit tried to one hand a loose puck near the blueline to Voracek. Kunitz intercepted, went the other way and blasted a shot past Emery for his 13th goal of the season. Time of the unassisted goal was 2:59.

Emery received a roughing penalty for jabbing — and mostly missing — David Perron. Pittsburgh went to its third power play, including the earlier five-minute advantage.

Voracek took exception to a clean but jarring hip check by Rob Scuderi and proceeded to drop the gloves and pound the tar out of the veteran defenseman. It was Scuderi’s first career fight in the NHL, and Voracek’s second. On his way to the penalty box, Voracek exhorted the crowd. Voracek received an instigation minor and a 10-minute misconduct.

With 13 seconds left in the Voracek instigation minor, Steve Downie delivered a rather late hit on Michael De Zotto in the left corner and then gave him an extra shot. Luke Schenn stepped in and absolutely beat the stuffings out of Downie.

Downie got a series of penalties: slashing minor, unsporstmanlike conduct for grabbing the face shield and a fighting major. Schenn got five for fighting.

On the ensuing power play, a quick whistle blew play dead with the puck still loose. Brayden Schenn slid the puck into the net after the whistle. No goal. Craig Adams took an unpenalized pop at Schenn.

With 2:12 left in the Downie double-minor, Del Zotto got a charging minor for leaving his feet to deliver a hit (official time was 11:36). With 1:08 left on the 4-on-4 and 7:32 left in the period, Giroux was denied by Greiss’s glove on a chance from the middle of the slot.

With 3:03 left, another fracas broke out. Career AHL middleweight agitator Bobby Farnham fought Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who has done much less of this sort of thing in a career spent entirely in Europe until this season, drove Farnham to the ice with a big right. There were also offsetting minor to Pittsburgh’s Mark Arcobello (roughing) and Philly’s Chris VandeVelde (cross-checking). The Flyers pressed the attack on the next two shifts.

Shots in the second period were 14-9 Flyers (26-17 Penguins through two periods). Faceoffs were 12-11 Penguins (tied at 20-20 through two periods). 3RD PERIOD

The Penguins took the lead on a 3-on-1 rush at 2:01. Evgeni Malkin patiently waited out a sliding Michael Del Zotto, moved to a better passing lane and passed to Bennett below the left circle. Bennett beat Emery before he could get over. It was Bennett’s third goal of the year. Malkin’s assist was his 32nd of the season. Spaling got the secondary assist.

Philly re-tied the game at 2-2 at the 4:24 mark. From the left circle, VandeVelde re-directed Del Zotto’s left point shot past Greiss for his sixth goal of the year. Del Zotto and Vincent Lecavalier got the assists.

Emery denied a Pittsburgh 2-on-1 at the 7:00 mark but the Flyers turned the puck over just outside their blueline Malkin claimed it, moved in and was denied by Emery’s 27th save of the game. There was a TV timeout after the save at the 7:07 mark.

Back on the ice after serving his 17 minutes worth of penalties, a fresh-legged Voracek drew a tripping penalty on Bortuzzo at 8:52. Nineteen seconds into the penalty, Greiss hung on to a Streit shot through traffic. The second unit came out briefly to give the top unit a rest. Upon their return, the top unit applied all sorts of pressure for the rest of the power play but could not pot a goal.

Del Zotto received a delay of game minor for flipping the puck over the glass from the defensive zone at 12:02. Pittsburgh went to its fifth power play. The Flyers got through it unscathed.

With 5:04 left, Brayden Schenn picked up an ill-timed interference minor for bumping Bortuzzo far away from the play.Midway through the kill, Emery made a stop through traffic on Ehrhoff. The Flyers once again got through the kill.

The Penguins’ Kunitz hit the post in the final two minutes on a shot that Crosby deflected. The puck barely missed going into the net. Philly pressed the attack in the final seconds and Sill received a delayed cross-checking penalty that created a 4-on-3 power play for two minutes in overtime.

Shots in the third period were 17-9 Flyers (35-34 Penguins through regulation). Faceoffs were 10-9 Flyers (30-29 Flyers through regulation). OVERTIME

The Flyers sent out Giroux, Voracek, Streit and Simmonds on the 4-on-3 power play to start OT. Pittsburgh sent out Brandon Sutter, Scuderi and Paul Martin. Philly pressured but could not score.

At 2:09, the Penguins were nabbed for too many men on the ice and the Flyers went right back to the power play. The Flyers called timeout. Lecavalier joined Giroux, Simmonds and Voracek on an all-forward power play until the Penguins cleared the puck. Streit replaced Voracek. With 50 seconds left on the kill, the Penguins called timeout.

The game ended with seven seconds left on the penalty. Greiss couldn’t quite hang on to a shot by Voracek that rolled down his back. Giroux found the loose puck and stashed it home at 3:57 of overtime.

Giroux’s 16th goal of the season was assisted by Voracek (39th assist) and Mark Streit (27th assist). POST-GAME NOTES AND QUOTES

* The Flyers’ next practice will be on Monday, Jan. 26 at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, NJ. The season resumes next Tuesday with a home game against the Arizona Coyotes.

* Philadelphia enters the All-Star break with a record of 19-22-7. Pittsburgh enters the break at 26-12-7.

* The Flyers have won six consecutive game against the Penguins.

* Per the Flyers’ Brian Smith, the Flyers’ 59 PIM was the most they’ve had in a game since they recorded 99 in the game against Washington on Nov. 1, 2013 (7-0 loss) that featured Ray Emery’s beatdown of Braden Holtby. It’s the most PIM that the Flyers had in a regular season game against Pittsburgh since they racked up 115 on Feb. 16, 1992 (a 3-3 tie with most of the PIMs coming in an overtime brawl). Philly had 62 and 69 PIMs in Games 1 and 2, respectively, of the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

* Claude Giroux on the emotional aspect of the game: “It was a pretty crazy game. Everyone was involved and playing as a team. That what we were looking for and it doesn’t get any better than this. … There was a lot of emotion. We took a lot of penalties. Especially against a team like this we need to make sure not to take to many penalties. Our P I think was one of the best this year. Kind of shut them down. They can move the puck pretty well. It starts with our goalie. Ray did a good job.”

* Giroux on the game-winning goal: “I don’t even know. I just saw the puck around the goalie. I swung at the puck then the crowd started cheering. So I kind of figured the puck was in the net.”

* Pierre-Edouard Bellemare on whether the fights helped unite and energize the team: “I think it was a great game. Everybody just fought for each other, literally. It was awesome to see the fans there. They were loving it. I think we just have to get those four days [during the All-Star break] and come back to this kind of game.”

* Zac Rinaldo on the hit on Kris Letang: ““I hit him the back side of the shoulder. I don’t know, the power of my hit made his head hit the glass. I didn’t hit him from behind. I didn’t hit him from the numbers. It was on the back side of the shoulder.”

* Rinaldo in denying that he jumped into the hit and why he believes the hit might look worse on replay: “I was going pretty fast. I think me hitting him and the impact of me leaving him threw [my skates] up a little bit. If you slow down any hit, you see guys [do that] in every single hit. You slow it down and dissect every single detail you are going to see something that you can criticize….I don’t think they should slow it down and dissect every single thing. It happened so fast. I’m not thinking I’m going to hurt the guy and hit him like some people think I hit him. It was a fast game things happened so quickly. It’s hard to dissect something that happened so quickly.”

* Rinaldo on why he thinks the hit ultimately had a positive impact on his team: “I changed the whole game. Who knows what the game would have been like if I didn’t do what I did?”

* Note: Within two hours of the end of the game, the NHL’s Player Safety Department released the following Tweet:

Philadelphia’s Zac Rinaldo has been offered an in-person hearing for boarding/charging on Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang. Date and time TBD.

— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) January 21, 2015

In other words, Rinaldo will get suspended for at least five games. Apart from the play itself, the NHL will also take into account that Rinaldo has three previous supplementary disciplinary actions (two suspensions and one fine) since entering the league. They will also weigh the fact that Letang got injured on the play.

The 24-year-old Rinaldo had 10 pre-NHL suspensions — six in the OHL and four in one year in his rookie AHL season — but those will not be weighed in this case.

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