Special teams cost Flyers in loss to Pens

Mike Richards and the Flyers lost the Penguins, 2-1, at the Wachovia Center today. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

   The Flyers' nationally televised 2-1 loss to the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins Sunday can be explained in two words: special teams.

   The Flyers were just 1 for 9 on the power play, while Pittsburgh was 2 for 6, including Matt Cooke's winning goal with 1:47 left.

    With the loss, the Flyers are 3-1 on the six-game homestand, which also has meetings with Atlanta and the Islanders.

    Cooke scored his power-play goal while Kimmo Timonen was in the penalty box for flipping the puck over the glass and being called for delay of game.

   “Well, it’s a tough rule, you know? It’s a rule, and it’s part of the game," said left winger Simon Gagne, who had one of his third-period shots bounce off the post. "...I’m not sure, [it] might have hit the stick from them, but the call was made....That’s not what you want, but it’s part of the game.

   "We have to find a way to kill those, but we didn’t do it," Gagne added. "At the end of the day, like I said, all that good work for no points at the end – it’s tough to take.”

     The Flyers outshout the Penguins, 28-22, won 61 percent of the faceoffs, and held Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin goal-less.

   Afterward, Flyers coach  Peter Laviolette vented.

    “I guess I’m frustrated because for the last month and a half, we’ve been preaching discipline, preaching staying out of the box and our players have bought into that," Laviolette said. "We’ll kill the ones we have to take, but going back and looking at that game, there are just too many penalties that never happened.

    "Simon Gagne didn’t high stick anybody. So it turns around and goes the other way. Scott Hartnell did not, in my opinion, interfere with the goaltender. I don’t know if it’s a reputation from the past, but you know we want to play tough, physical, but we don’t need to go to the box. But we’re still going there and our players aren’t taking penalties.”

     The Flyers, who had a Mike Richards goal nullified by a penalty, didn't come close to generating the offense they displayed in a 7-4 win in Pittsburgh on Jan. 7. They had scored four goals or more in seven of their previous 10 games.

   "I don’t think we were bad on the power play; we were just a second late, a half-second late on all the pucks around the net especially," forward Danny Briere said. "I don’t think our power play was as much the problem as the amount of penalties we took as well. You know we have been good in that department lately and not taking too many penalties I know their power play has been struggling all season, but when you have guys like (Sergei) Gonchar and Crosby and Malkin, you know at some point they can make a difference."

    Penguins coach Dan Bylsma liked the way his team limited the Flyers' scoring chances.

   “I think we haven’t played a game like this where we’ve played well defensively and kept the team down to one or less." he said. The Flyers "have playing very well as their record as of late indicates, and we’re coming off a tough game as well, so this was a big game for us to start our road trip. The guys battled hard and special teams won the game for us.”

   Crosby was also pleased.

   "It feels good. It’s not an easy place to play in, so it was a pretty intense game," he said. "You know, it’s a 12:30 game, guys are barely up and here we are with a game with that much intensity. It’s a good task and especially like I said, coming off Washington (a 6-3 loss), we had to bring that intensity right back up there again today and we did a great job of it.”

     The Flyers are 13-11-2 under Laviolette _ virtually the same record they had under John Stevens (13-11-1).