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Flyers Giroux puts up six points in stunning comeback win over Penguins
Philadelphia Flyers centre Claude Giroux had a career night scoring three times and chipping in with three assists, while youngster Sean Couturier also notched a hat-trick, in leading the visitors to a stunning 8-5 come from behind victory, that has left the Pittsburgh Penguins and their fans in disbelief.
Edmonton - April 14, 2012 - While most observers were expecting this one to be the best series of the first round, no one in their wildest dreams could have come up with what hockey fans have been treated to through two electrifying games between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins. For the second consecutive game, the Penguins jumped out to an early lead and for the second straight game, the Flyers found away to not only get back into each game but ultimately battling back to take both games in Pittsburgh, against their bitter rivals. Philadelphia centre Claude Giroux had a career night scoring three times and chipping in with three assists, while youngster Sean Couturier also notched a hat-trick, in leading the visitors to a stunning 8-5 come from behind victory, that has left the Penguins and their fans in disbelief.
Just as they did in game number one, the Pens came out flying and jumped out to a 2-0 lead, before the opening period was ten minutes old. Their captain Sidney Crosby would open the scoring with an absolutely beautiful give and go with Steve Sullivan, to put the home side up just fifteen seconds into the proceedings. They would then double their lead, when Chirs Kunitz scored on the power play at the 9:27 mark and forcing the hand of Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette to call a timeout early on to settle his troops for the second consecutive game. Oddly enough, it appeared to work as the visitors would get on the score sheet only moments later but were first saved by an amazing stop from their star netminder.
With the Pens back on the man advantage, Ilya Bryzgalov took away what looked to be a sure goal from defenceman Kris Letang, with a fully extended brilliant glove stop from the Russian goaltender. Seconds later, Crosby would turn over the puck at the Philly blueline, sending Giroux in on a partial breakaway that was turned a side by Marc-Ande Fleury. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, former Penguin forward Max Talbot followed up the play and cashed in the big rebound into a wide open net for the Flyers first of the night and shorthanded to boot.
Not to worry, as the Pens would restore their two goal lead when Paul Martin fired a shot past Bryzgalov with less then thirty seconds to play in the opening stanza and make it 3-1 for the home side. Pretty much the start Pittsburgh wanted and there was no way they could blow another two goal lead on home ice...or so you would think.
With Crosby in the penalty box, the Flyers would start their comeback. Giroux would score his first of the night, snapping a beautiful feed from Jakub Voracek past Fleury to cut the lead to one with the power play marker. Six minutes later, he scored his second of the period and Philly's second shorthanded goal of the game, with a perfectly placed snapshot, off the post and in. Just like that, the lead was gone and the Flyers had all the momentum on their side.
Obviously that didn't faze Pittsburgh, as Kunitz would score six seconds later to regain their one goal lead. With the Flyers still a man short, the Malkin - Kunitz - Neal line simply bullied their way up ice off the faceoff and in a blink of an eye, it was 4-3 Penguins.
This time Philadelphia would be the one to score in the dying seconds of a period, as rookie Sean Couturier found a loose puck with three seconds to go and beat a helpless Fleury to even things up one more time, in what was a wild forty minutes of hockey. The two sides combined for eight goals on just thirty-nine shots, which included three power play markers and two shorthanded goals.
Pittsburgh would go ahead for the third time on the night, when Tyler Kennedy scored just 1:04 into period three on a shot the Flyer keeper would love to have back. Not to worry, as defenceman Ben Lovejoy would give it right back, after all of seventeen seconds. Lovejoy simply handed the puck inside the Pens zone to a hard charging Couturier, who walked in and easily beat the stunned Penguins netminder, to knot this one up at five.
Just past the nine minute mark, Philadelphia would take their first lead of the night courtesy of former Penguin great, Jaromir Jagr. Marc-Andre Fleury spilled out an awful rebound off a harmless point shot from Pavel Kubina, that Jagr quickly corralled and fired a quick spin around shot past the unhappy Pens goaltender.
After forward James Neal narrowly missed a wide open net, with a diving attempt with just over two minutes to go, Philadelphia immediately turned the puck up ice and sent Giroux and Couturier on a two-on-one break. The club's leading scorer found the rookie centre with a gorgeous cross-ice feed, that last year's eighth overall selection simply directed home for his hat trick goal. Giroux would add insult to injury, scoring his third of the night into an empty net to make it 8-5 and give the highly skilled centre the franchise record for most points scored in a playoff game.
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