Coming off a 2-0 lead in the series, the Flyers were poised to wreck the Penguins’ chances at a playoff run when they won a third game in a row to a score of 8-4.
This game was not without problems, as the bad blood between the two teams continued to boil. The game was full of penalties and fights, and was so bad during the first period that the game was delayed quite a bit. After the game, NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan assessed the plays and gave both Penguins’ Arron Asham and James Neal game suspensions.
Asham got a four game suspension after he crossed-checked Flyer Brayden Schenn to the ice and then hit him in the back of the neck. It was this offense that got the Flyers’ organization and fans fired up, and really showed the Penguins’ lack of discipline in the series. The Penguins’ undisciplined playing style also showed later in the game when Neal charged at Flyers’ forward Claude Giroux, which gave him a one game suspension.
The Flyers managed to score eight goals on Marc-Andre Fleury again after a similar goal count in game 2, whereas the Flyers’ goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov only let in four pucks.
Given the absence of Neal and Asham along with a 3-0 lead in the best of seven series, the Flyers were confident that they were going to sweep the Penguins in game 4. However, the Penguins were not going down without a fight as they managed to beat the Flyers for the first time in the series by 10-3. The game had clearly not gone as the Flyers had planned, and the blow was especially harsh due to this upset having occurred on the Flyers’ home ice.
The first period resulted in a 4-3 lead for the Penguins. With 40 minutes left in the game, the Flyers thought they could cut this lead down and take back the game on their home ice. When the second period began, the Penguins showed their dominance as they scored five times in the second period. The Flyers could not get a goal past Fleury, who was starting to look like his old self again.
In the second period, the Flyers took nine penalties, including a game misconduct for Zac Rinaldo. This gave the Penguins ample opportunities to score, which they did, and even led to Bryzgalov being pulled from his post so back up goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky could take over.
This goalie switch didn’t seem to help, as the Penguins were able to score their 10th goal early in the third. The Flyers were able to keep the Penguins from scoring again, but were unable to recover as they lost the game 10-3.
The Flyers had the chance to redeem themselves by winning it during game 5 in Pittsburgh on Friday night, but again the Penguins were going to fight them off. Of the series, this was the game that actually looked like a playoff series game. It also appeared that the Penguins finally remembered that they were playing for a chance to go for the Stanley Cup.
Poor goaltending has been a problem for both sides in the past four games, which is evident by the high scores, an uncommon occurrance for playoff games.
In game 5, Fleury seemed to have regained his confidence in the net, which led the Penguins to a second victory of 3-2, making the series score a bit more competitive at 3-2 in favor of the Flyers.
The teams appeared to be playing at even strength in game 5, but the Flyers were sluggish in the third, where they needed to be powerful to tie the game at 3-3. However, they were unable to do so having been shut down by the Penguins defense team, which led the Penguins to another win and hopes for a comeback.
The series went to game 6 back in Philadelphia on Sunday night. The Penguins were hoping to push a game seven with another win, and the Flyers had hopes that they could finally defeat the Penguins to move onto round two of the playoffs.
*Note- Game six was played after this article went to press.
Deanna Vasso is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in creative writing. She can be reached at DV670502@wcupa.edu.