Who: Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins
What: Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Five
When: 7:30 PM
Where: CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA
The Penguins came up with a big 10-3 win Wednesday night to extend their first round series with the Flyers and keep their postseason alive. Jordan Staal recorded a hat trick while Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin each had three points. Pittsburgh will need to win the next three games to avoid elimination, beginning tonight.
Paul Martin missed the last game with an undisclosed injury and the Penguins dressed seven defensemen to make up for it, including rookies Simon Despres and Brian Strait. Martin will miss tonight’s game as well, and the Penguins will again dress seven on defense, including Despres and Strait. The Penguins are 7-2 when head coach Dan Bylsma dresses seven defensemen in the playoffs.
With forwards James Neal and Craig Adams returning to the lineup, either Eric Tangradi or Richard Park will sit tonight’s game.
Tangradi was relatively impressive Wednesday night, especially compared to Park, who at one point whiffed on a clearance attempt while killing a penalty, leading to one of Philadelphia’s three goals. Park has been underwhelming overall in his two games this postseason, and for that reason Tangradi should get the nod.
For the Flyers, Ilya Bryzgalov will be back in net after being pulled for giving up five goals on 18 shots Wednesday night. He is 3-1 with a 4.96 GAA and a .844 SV% this series.
Defenseman Nicklas Grossmann won’t play for Philadelphia after being concussed in the last game. Grossman was hit hard by Evgeni Malkin and soon after Tyler Kennedy in the first period, but played until midway through the second.
While Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo somehow didn’t receive any supplementary discipline for his crosscheck and punch to the face of Zbynek Michalek (which earned him a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct Wednesday), he may be a healthy scratch tonight in favor of James Van Riemsdyk, who played in just 43 regular season games due to a concussion.
The biggest factors for the Penguins tonight will be Marc-Andre Fleury and their penalty killing.
Fleury allowed three goals in Wednesday’s first period but shut the Flyers out for the remainder of the game, his first two scoreless periods of the series. When Fleury is on his game, even these Flyers will have a hard time beating him. Unfortunately, he’s a bit of a headcase and when he isn’t confident, he has trouble stopping anything at all. The Penguins will need him to carry some of Wednesday’s confidence over to tonight’s game if they want to muffle Philadelphia’s potent offensive attack.
The Flyers’ power play is clicking at a ridiculous 60% (9/15) in the series. Needless to say, the Penguins penalty killers will need to show up tonight.
When the puck drops tonight, it won’t matter that the Penguins scored ten times in the last game. It won’t matter that they tied the franchise record for largest goal margin in the postseason. The score will be 0-0, and the Penguins will have to again outscore the Flyers.
We’ll see if they can repeat Wednesday night’s performance, or if the team’s lackluster play from the first three games of the series will return.
Puck drop at 7:38 PM.
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