PITTSBURGH — Here are five insights from the Flyers’ 5-1 win over the Penguins Friday night.
No hearing for Giroux
The NHL announced Saturday morning they would not review Claude Giroux’s hit on Penguins defenseman Kris Letang. It’s absolutely the right decision, even though Crosby said after the game, “I’m sure the league will look at it. I thought it was high.”
If it wasn’t for Crosby’s initial contact with Giroux, who was looking to avoid hitting teammate Sean Couturier, the incidental contact would have never taken place. Giroux was trying to brace himself, sensing a collision, but he even went as far to make sure Letang was OK and that there was no intent behind it.
“Everything happened pretty quick,” Giroux said about the play.
Letang returned to the ice. Let’s move on.
Elliott answers the injury concerns
Behind a 34-save gem, Brian Elliott put to rest any questions regarding his health and concerns he could physically make the necessary saves. While the Penguins hit iron on four different occasions, Elliott was solid in sealing the post and his rebound control was outstanding. Dave Hakstol mentioned how well Elliott was seeing and tracking the puck which was clearly evident from his Game 2 performance.
Not only did the Flyers shut down Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but in observing Malkin closely, he essentially shut it down himself. The Penguins’ leading goal scorer this season appeared to want no part of Game 2. Defensively, the Flyers limited Malkin’s mobility with the puck and he was completely sloppy on the Penguins’ power play forcing Pittsburgh’s top unit to exit the zone and reset on a number of occasions. While Malkin has the explosiveness to take over a game at a moment’s notice, the Flyers had him rattled and completely off his game. He should have been whistled for his own embellishment as well on Wayne Simmonds’ roughing penalty late in the second period.
Monster minutes from Coots and Provy
In the third period alone, Ivan Provorov and Sean Couturier played a whopping 23:21 of combined ice time. In breaking those numbers down even further, there were only four minutes and six seconds where either Provorov or Couturier wasn’t on the ice in that final period. The Penguins only goal came 17 seconds after both guys had just come off the ice, and they were immediately right back out there after Patric Hornqvist had scored. With the series now shifting to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4, Hakstol can control the matchups. As long as the games are close, expect to see the Flyers’ two top defenders having to manage some monster minutes.
Special teams was a luxury
Mike Sullivan called special teams the “difference in the game” in his postgame remarks. The Flyers’ power play scored twice and broke down the Penguins’ PK on their first goal when Carl Hagelin fell to the ice opening up a shooting lane for Shayne Gostisbehere. Up to that point, the Flyers had generated very little on the man advantage. More impressive was the Flyers’ PK unit that killed all four Pens’ power plays, although Crosby’s gaffe could have changed that. Special teams are cyclical and rarely do you see a carryover from one game to the next in a playoff series.