Sean Couturier dominant in win over Penguins

Sean Couturier dominant in win over Penguins

March 16, 2014, 7:00 am
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Sean Couturier's dominant defensive play not only shut down Sidney Crosby but also led to two goals in the Flyers' 4-0 win over the Penguins on Saturday. (USA Today Images)

Sean Couturier was a phenom against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Two defensive plays produced both a shorthanded goal and an even-strength goal.

All the while, he shut down Sidney Crosby in head-to-head play during the Flyers' 4-0 shutout at Wells Fargo Center (see story).

It was the first time in 46 regular-season games Crosby did not get a point against the Flyers.

“The rivalry seems to get into everyone’s head,” Couturier said. “Everyone steps up their game. Not only me, but G (Claude Giroux) as well. All four lines. Everyone is doing the right things. There’s always an edge to the game.”

Matt Read benefited from Couturier’s defensive play twice, with two goals.

Couturier broke up a pass during a first-period Penguins power play that produced an odd-man rush and Read’s first goal of the game. Read's one-timer went in and out of the net so fast that play continued a few seconds before the officials whistled a stoppage and signaled “goal," putting the Flyers ahead, 2-0.

“I didn’t know it went in, either,” Read admitted. “I thought it went past [goalie Marc-Andre Fleury], but it came out so quick. I started to play the puck again and then the horn sounded.”

In the second period, Couturier chipped a puck past Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik at the point and began an odd-man rush. Some spectacular passing between Couturier and Giroux on the rush resulted in Read’s second goal and 18th overall.

“It started with Coots 3-on-1 there,” Read recalled. “G made a couple quick passes there, and I went back door, and Coots made another great pass right on my tape. It’s hard to miss those ones when you are in the net, almost.”

Read has four two-goal games this season and seven in his career.

Couturier always takes advantage of anything a player gives him. He saw something with Orpik.

“The puck was in between me and Orpik, and he kinda hesitated,” Couturier said. “I took advantage of it, and G stepped up in the play.”

That goal made it 4-0 with just 17 seconds left in the second period. Pittsburgh had a bit of a push to start the third but could not get anything going, especially with the dominance of Couturier’s line, that include Steve Downie.

“Defense leads to offense,” Read said. “When you are playing Crosby and [Evgeni] Malkin up there, you kind of play defense first. Let them make mistakes and take advantage of that.

“That is something we did. We had good reads in the offensive zone, made them chip pucks, didn’t allow them time in the offensive zone. Pucks kind of went our way and we went on offense from there.”

This was the Flyers’ first regular-season shutout of the Penguins since April 6, 2008. It was also just the fourth in the last 31 years. Meanwhile, goalie Steve Mason picked up his 23rd career shutout and fourth of the season.

This was the Flyers’ first regulation win against the Penguins at Wells Fargo Center since Dec. 8, 2011. Their lone win in the five games since came in overtime on March 18, 2012, when Scott Hartnell scored with nine-tenths of a second remaining in OT.

Flyers won 56 percent of them. Couturier won 6 of 8 (75 percent) against Crosby. “I haven’t seen the faceoffs, but that’s one thing [Berube] wants us to do,” said Giroux. “Start with the puck, and make them come to us. I think that’s one thing we did, and we did a pretty good job of it.”