The Battle of Pennsylvania has turned into a series of redemption.
The Flyers overcame a lopsided loss and won Game 2, and it was the Penguins’ turn Sunday to bounce back from a one-sided defeat.
Penguins 5, Flyers 1.
Sidney Crosby had a goal and three assists to spark the Penguins, who turned a 2-0 second-period lead to 4-0 by scoring two goals in five seconds – equaling a Stanley Cup playoff record for the two quickest goals.
Pittsburgh leads the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, two games to one. Game 4 will be played Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers, who played without discipline in the final two periods, are just 7-21 in series when they trail, two games to one. They are 20-3 in series when they have won two of the first three games.
“It’s disappointing whenever you lose, especially in the playoffs,” said rookie center Nolan Patrick, who was robbed by goalie Matt Murray as he went in alone during a Flyers-dominated first period. “You have to have a short memory.”
The Flyers had a short memory after they were thrashed in Game 1, 7-0. They won Game 2, 5-1.
Second-period goals by Derick Brassard (power play), Evgeni Malkin (four-on-three power play), and defenseman Brian Dumoulin gave the Penguins a 4-0 cushion. With 13 minutes, 7 seconds left in the second, Dumoulin put a left-circle shot through the legs of goalie Brian Elliott after taking a pass from Crosby, who has 13 goals and 30 points in 20 career playoff games against the Flyers.
Dumoulin’s goal was scored just five seconds after Malkin tallied, equaling the 1965 Detroit Red Wings’ record (set against Chicago) for the two quickest goals in Stanley Cup history.
The Penguins, who scored three power-play goals after going 1 for 8 in the first two games, made the Flyers pay for second-period penalties to Claude Giroux (slashing), Travis Konecny (interference), and Jake Voracek (interference).
“It just seemed like we couldn’t get a flow going because we were taking more penalties than we wanted to,” Elliott said. “And then when we had opportunities on the power play, we didn’t really generate too much. They did a really good job shutting us down.”
“It’s hard to play that team if you don’t stay out of the box,” said Voracek, whose two penalties led to pair of Pittsburgh goals.
The Penguins were 3 for 7 on the power play, while the Flyers were 0 for 6. In the teams’ three meetings at the Wells Fargo Center (two in the regular season), Pittsburgh is 6 for 13 on the power play and the Flyers are 0 for 15.
With 6:18 to go in the second, rookie defenseman Travis Sanheim cut the deficit to 4-1 when his wrist shot from just inside the blue line went through traffic and past Murray.
Pittsburgh, which scored on four of its first 12 shots, added its final power-play goal when Justin Schultz scored on a point drive with 12:52 left in the game. That power play was granted because of Voracek’s high-sticking infraction on Jamie Oleksiak.
Including the playoffs, Pittsburgh has scored 33 goals (4.7 per game) in the seven games against the Flyers this season.
Considering the opponent, the Flyers played one of their better opening periods of the season – and left the ice trailing.
Murray was sensational and the Penguins were opportunistic, converting a Michael Raffl turnover into a wraparound goal by (who else?) Crosby with 9:35 left in the period.
In the first period, the Flyers had a huge territorial advantage and outshot the Penguins, 11-4. Murray made his biggest save when he stopped Patrick on a breakaway with 18:45 to go in the period. Patrick made a deke, but Murray didn’t bite, and he still had to make a great glove save as Patrick tried to put the shot inside the right post.
“I didn’t get it up high enough,” Patrick said, adding he wanted to go “over his glove and I shot it right into his glove and made it pretty easy on him.”
The Penguins struggled mightily on the road this season, but they had no problems at the Wells Fargo Center, where they won both regular-season games and outscored the Flyers by a combined 10-3 score. With Sunday’s blowout, they have three wins and have outscored the Flyers, 15-4, at the Center.
Overall, Pittsburgh was 17-20-4 on the road this season, the second-worst record of the 16 playoff teams. No team has won the Stanley Cup with a losing regular-season road record since New Jersey in 1995.
But don’t count out the Penguins from ending that drought and winning their third straight Cup.