Pens take advantage of stinky Flyers goaltending

Flyers forward Claude Giroux collides with Penguins forward Richard Park and goaltender Marc-Andre...

Flyers forward Claude Giroux collides with Penguins forward Richard Park and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury during Game 4 of their NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Penn., April 18, 2012. (TIM SHAFFER/Reuters)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:21 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA - So now it is back to Pittsburgh and that sound you heard was either:

a) the pad at the back of the Philadelphia Flyers' net breaking or;

b) the grinding of a shift in momentum in a series that looked like it would be over quick and now smells like a possible epic.

Given the monumentual ineptitude of the Philadelphia Flyers' goaltending in their 10-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night, blowing a chance to finish off a sweep of the undermanned Pens, there's a feeling now that anything can happen in a series where almost everything has.

The Penguins, now down 3-1 in the series, will have a chance to make it really interesting if they can find a way to win Game 5 back in Pittsburgh Friday night. Working in the Flyers' favour is they won Games 1 and 2 in Steeltown and helped the road teams to an 18-9 record so far in this post-season (with two games yet to be decided Wednesday night).

The Penguins pumped five goals behind Flyers starter Ilya Bryzgalov in the first 23 minutes of Game 4 on just 18 shots as the Penguins overcame a 3-2 deficit early in the second period.

After Pittsburgh defenceman Kris Letang made it 5-3 on the power play at 3:07 of the second, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette had seen enough and pulled Bryzgalov, who has given up 17 goals on 109 shots in this series, in favour of Sergei Bobrovsky.

That is what is known in these parts as Russian Roulette.

Bobrovsky promptly gave up goals on the fourth, seventh, 10th and 11th shots he faced, waving at rising shots by Penguins Steve Sullivan and Jordan Staal, who completed his hat trick at 16:03 of the second period to make it 9-3.

That is basically an empirical way of saying Bobrovsky, like Bryzgalov before him, was stinky.

The Penguins won the game despite being without three suspended players -- top scoring winger James Neal and wingers Craig Adams and Arron Asham. Neal was suspended for a game for a pair of hits in Game 3, Asham was suspended for four games for a crosscheck on Flyers rookie Brayden Schenn and Adams was out for a game for getting an instigator penalty in the last five minutes of Game 3.

The Penguins were also without defenceman Paul Martin.

“We believed if we played the right way and played a full 60 minutes, we’d have a chance to win the hockey game,” Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik said. “That was the case tonight.”

“Embarrassing,” Flyers defenceman Kimmo Timonen said. “Today, everything was kind of off.”

Not insignificant also for the Penguins was the opportunities afforded by Bryzgalov and Bobrovsky that allowed Art Ross Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin to get his first two goals of the series after being smothered by the play of Sean Couturier's line.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby had a three-point night to continue his fine play.

“Everyone played well. Everyone right through the lineup did a good job. I think everyone wanted to play their best. They knew the situation we were in,” Crosby said. “You want everyone to respond the right way and they did tonight. I think we’ve given ourselves a chance to get back to Pittsburgh and that’s all we wanted out of this game.”

It looked like the NHL finally sent the message to its officials to not put up with any nonsense, punishing all but a sideways glance with a misconduct penalty, as was the case with Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo, who got kicked out after crosschecking Penguins defenceman Zbynek Michalek and punching him in the face.

At the Penguins end of the rink, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury looked shaky at the beginning of the game as the Flyers held 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 leads, but got better as the night progressed. He made a nice toe save in the 15th minute of the second and a good glove stop in the third, which had his teammates tapping their sticks on the boards.

That was a sound not heard often in this series.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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