The Philadelphia Flyers unloaded on the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday, scoring eight goals for the second consecutive game. But the Penguins refused to go quietly into the night, and not on the scoreboard.
Sunday’s game is one that will surely go down in playoff history, as one of the ugliest games in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was a game marred with fights and physical play that turned into plain old nasty.
The two sides combined for 158 penalty minutes on the night, and eight players were hit with game misconducts.
Early on, it was much of what we’ve seen, and had expected, throughout this series. Scrums after the whistle, whether they were for a stoppage or for a goal. Eventually, those scrums began to turn ugly.
A little more than halfway through the first period, Kimmo Timonen and Kris Letang were both hit with misconducts for dropping the gloves. In that same sequence, Claude Giroux and Sidney Crosby received fighting majors for dropping the gloves with each other.
Very shortly after that, in the penalty-filled first period, Brayden Schenn laid a completely clean hit on Paul Martin. But Arron Asham took exception, cross checking Schenn near the neck, and jumping on him once Schenn fell to the ice. Once he was down, Asham pounded on the back of his head. He’ll likely receive a big time suspension for that one.
The second period was one with less fighting, but even more scoring. The Flyers added two more to their 4-2 lead, while the Pens could only muster up a pair. They headed into the third down 6-4, which would mean the end of the road for Marc-Andre Fleury, who has been an absolute mess in this series.
The second half of the third frame, was more of what we saw in the first period. Claude Giroux added a goal to put the Flyers up 7-4 early in the period, and secured the Gordie Howe Hat Trick for the night.
But things got very ugly towards the end. Craig Adams went after Scott Hartnell, as both he and Sidney Crosby resorted to the Alex Burrows style of fighting, with Adams getting the misconduct. Wayne Simmonds and Deryk Engelland also received misconducts, as well as James Neal and, less surprising, Zac Rinaldo. Neal was running all over the place in the third, taking anyone out that he could, leaving his feet on a hit that forced Sean Couturier to leave the game.
The biggest surprise of the night? Not a single penalty minute for Matt Cooke.
This is a loss that turned a lot of people that may have been rooting for the Penguins against them. Not only were they decimated on the scoreboard, as they have been for this entire series thanks to awful defense and a goaltender whose head is terribly messed up, but their display on the ice in Philadelphia on Sunday was completely embarrassing for the NHL.
Of course, this is also partly the result of the officiating, which didn’t hand out the right penalties and send a message early, but also Brendan Shanahan, whose lack of any sort of consistency in handing out suspensions has left players still doing whatever they want out there.
Shanahan is sure to have his hands full with this game, and it will be interesting to see how the two teams play when they meet on Wednesday, with a chance for the Flyers to sweep the Stanley Cup favorite Penguins out of the first round. At this point, they don’t really look like a team that deserves one anyway.