Flyers Send Us Into the Work Week With a Win

Flyers Send Us Into the Work Week With a Win

After the Eagles' absolute debacle of a loss to the travesty that is the 2011 Arizona Cardinals, I barely felt like watching another second of sports this Sunday evening. Thankfully, the Flyers gave us a reason to lock up our sharps and settle in for some HBO programming without doing ourselves or others harm.

Ilya Bryzgalov was a rock in net to limit the Florida attack to just one goal until the waning seconds of the game, and the Flyers hung three on Jose Theodore in a solid overall performance by the Orange & Black.

Danny Briere opened the scoring with a backhand cleanup just off of Theodore's doorstep, giving him five on the season. Danny had very little angle and was coming in from his weaker side, yet still elevated it to the top shelf for a gorgeous finish. Braydon Coburn tallied in the second on a great breakout off a takeaway in the Flyers zone, and Matt Read scored on a penalty shot to put the Flyers up 3-1. The Panthers would score a garbage time goal to pull within one, but Philadelphia had control for most of this game, and the way they scored in three very different ways was a great indicator of what this team can do.

Video highlights and discussion below.

Coburn's goal was a nice reminder of how fast this team can change gears if they can pull a takeaway in their own zone. Max Talbot fed a breaking Coburn, who found Jakub Voracek, who in turn fed it back to Coburn with a wide open net. The speed of the transaction was more than Florida could handle, and Coburn added his first goal of the season to a November that already included a contract extension, a fight win over Steve Downie, and the birth of a new baby. Way to go, Cobie.  

Read's penalty shot came while the team was shorthanded on a highsticking call to Talbot. It's amazing to think that despite the personnel this team lost in the off-season, they're still very dangerous on the kill. Read drew a call as he barreled toward the net, and on the ensuing penalty shot, powered one through Theodore's legs.

The double-minor to Talbot was still on the clock, and the Flyers killed it off with some smart work by their PK unit, a group that includes rookies that play like seasoned veterans. Sean Couturier has been very good in all situations so far this season, and Peter Laviolette clearly trusts him.

The rookies gave the Flyers a boost tonight. Read's contribution will show up on the scoresheet, but Zac Rinaldo was a fireball, notching a few more big hits, and Cooter put in 5:27 of time on the penalty kill alone.

Bryz was sharp all night, with his positioning making him look even bigger than he already is.

Overall, not much more we could ask for from the Flyers, topping a solid Panthers team by a 3-2 count.

Highlights:

Notes:
Talbot drew some bad luck from the zebras, issued a double-minor for a love tap that somehow drew blood only Dexter could find in the mouth of Brian Campbell. Fortunately, the Flyers scored on the man-down when Read pocketed the penalty shot goal. Later, Talbot would take a stick in the mouth, going to the ice with blood pouring out of his mouth without even a call.

The Flyers got a break when Stephen Weiss did something to piss off the official who called him for hooking on the play that led to Read's penalty shot. Weiss was assessed a 10 minute misconduct and a game misconduct, one of the Panthers' leading scorers then missing crunch time of a close game.

Neither team scored on the power play despite a total of 12 penalties being called.

Bryzgalov made 31 saves on 33 shots, again looking very much out of the woods.

Chris Pronger is looking healthy, as he led all skaters with 24:13 of ice time, a few minutes more than any other player. Claude Giroux led forwards in TOI with 21:36.

Couturier leads all rookies in shorthanded time on ice per game, per the Flyers.

Giroux and Briere were strong at the dot, with G winning 13 of 18 and Danny 9 of 13.

The Flyers are in action again tomorrow night, when they head to Carolina to face the Hurricanes.

Photo by Steve Mitchell-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).