Burn the Game Tape: Penguins Thrash Flyers 10-3, Force Game Five

Burn the Game Tape: Penguins Thrash Flyers 10-3, Force Game Five

Well, the Flyers scored first. They also held a 3-2 lead at one point. Quite simply, it just completely unraveled from there. The Penguins took full advantage of an undisciplined and unorganized Flyers team and embarrassed them to the tune of a 10-3 score.
I give full credit to a Penguins team facing elimination. They could have folded down 3-2, but instead they poured it on. And then poured it on some more. And then they went ahead and just kept on pouring. 
For a couple of reasons I am going to spare you the video highlights. First, I am guessing you'd rather not relive double digit Penguins goals. Second, the cumulative running time of the highlights would exceed that of the entire Rocky franchise. 
In light of what happened in Game Three the players had to know that the officials would call anything and everything tonight. The guys in the black and white striped shirts did not disappoint. The Flyers were the beneficiaries of a 5 on 3 power play in the first period. The Pens enjoyed 9:37 of power play time in the second period. Both teams took advantage of their power play opportunities. The Flyers were 3/5 on the power play. The Penguins were 4/9 with the man advantage. 
I don't know how much you can take from a 10-3 hockey game, but if you're a Flyers fan there were some concerning developments. First, Evgeni Malkin, who had been kept relatively quiet through the first three games, picked up his first two goals of the series. Penguins goaltender Marc Andre Fleury, who seemed lost the first three games, made a number of confident saves. The Flyers have to hope that he has not regained his regular season form.
On the flip side, Ilya Bryzgalov looked very shaky early on. He was spilling rebounds, did not seem able to push off and go post to post, and generally looked lost prior to being pulled by Peter Laviolette during the second period. True, the defensive coverage was awful, but Bryz didn't really help things either. Matt Carle had an awful turnover which led to a goal. Matt Read did too. It was a forgettable night for the Flyers blue liners (stating the obvious).
Speaking of the defensemen, Nik Grossmann did not play in the third period. He was shaken up after absorbing a Tyler Kennedy hit, but briefly returned to the ice during the second period. It remains to be seen whether in light of the score he was held out as a precautionary measure, or if he suffered a dreaded upper or lower body injury.
It's not too often you see a team concede eight unanswered goals, but the Flyers somehow managed to do just that. This is a game where you just burn the game tape and move on. The Flyers still enjoy a 3-1 series lead. It's not time to panic. The Penguins still have a long road ahead of them. 
Game Five is in Pittsburgh on Friday night.
Photo Credit: Eric Hartline, US Presswire

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Chris Kunitz beat Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 28 shots on his 23rd birthday.

The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 to win back-to-back titles. They will host Western Conference champion Nashville in Game 1 on Monday night.

Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa. The Senators rallied twice to tie it, with Dzingel making it 2-2 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Craig Anderson made 39 saves, but couldn't get a handle on Kunitz's shot from just outside the left circle. The Senators are 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history.

The Senators forced a return trip to Pittsburgh -- where they lost 7-0 loss in Game 5 on Sunday -- by leaning heavily on Anderson in a 2-1 Game 6 victory, putting both teams at odds with history.

Ottawa came in 0-for-25 years in winner-take-all games, while the Penguins were 0-7 in Game 7s at home in series in which they also dropped Game 6.

Ottawa coach Guy Boucher told his resilient team to not get caught up in the big picture but instead focus on the small ones, a recipe that carried the Senators throughout a bumpy transition under their first-year head coach to the brink of the franchise's second Cup appearance.

The Penguins, trying to become the first defending champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009, came in confident they would advance if they could replicate their dominant Game 6, when they were undone only by Anderson's brilliance.

Pittsburgh has been nearly unflappable in the face of adversity under Mike Sullivan, going 12-2 in playoff games following a loss over the last two springs. He encouraged his team to "just play," code for fighting through Ottawa's neutral zone-clogging style and the bumping, grabbing and pulling that comes along with it.

A chance to play for their sport's ultimate prize on the line, the sheets of open ice the Penguins found so easily in Games 4-6 closed up. For most of the first 30 minutes, loose pucks hopped over sticks to spoil some scoring opportunities while Anderson and Murray gobbled up the rest.

Kunitz, relegated to the fourth line since returning from injury in the second round, picked up his first postseason goal in a calendar year when he completed a two-on-one with Conor Sheary -- a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 -- by slipping the puck by Anderson 9:55 into the second period.

The momentum lasted all of 20 seconds. Ottawa responded immediately with Stone -- who stretched his left skate to stay onside -- fired a wrist shot that handcuffed Murray.

Pittsburgh kept coming. Schultz, returning after missing four games with an upper-body injury, zipped a shot from the point through Kunitz's screen and into the net with 8:16 left in the third.

Once again, the Penguins could not hold the lead. Dzingel set up at the right post and banged home a rebound off Erik Karlsson's shot that hit the left post and caromed off Murray's back right to Dzingel's stick.

Notes
The home team is 21-20 in overtime Game 7s in NHL playoff history. ... Pittsburgh F Patric Hornqvist skated during warmups, but was held out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Karlsson had 16 assists in the playoffs to set a team record. ... The Penguins are 10-7 in Game 7s. ... It was the fifth one-goal game of the series.

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick experienced a painful rehab start on Thursday night.

Rehabbing with Triple A Lehigh Valley, Kendrick was hit by a pitch twice before being removed after the sixth inning of the IronPigs' 8-4 loss to Indianapolis at Coca-Cola Park.

Both times Kendrick was plunked in the upper left arm, according to Tom Housenick of the Morning Call.

There was no update on if Kendrick was injured or taken out for precautionary reasons. Thursday marked Kendrick's second rehab start as he recovers from an oblique strain that has sidelined him since April 15.

The Phillies' leftfielder started at third base Thursday. At the beginning of his rehab assignment, Kendrick was expected to play four games and see time at third and first base, as well as in left field.

Kendrick made a throwing error at third on Thursday and finished 0 for 1 with a run scored. In his two games, he's 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs in 10 games with the Phillies prior to landing on the DL.

When he returns, he could see time at third base instead of left field if Maikel Franco continues to struggle (see story).