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Flyers slip by Penguins, sweep home-and-home set
Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Penguins may be missing four regulars, but they're still leading the Metropolitan Division by a healthy margin.
Nonetheless, Philadelphia nipped Pittsburgh by a 4-3 margin to sweep the home-and-home set which concluded on Sunday afternoon at CONSOL Energy Center.
Wayne Simmonds pumped home a pair of first-period power-play goals and added an assist for the Flyers, who chased Marc-Andre Fleury with three goals in the game's first 14 minutes.
"Our team will get confidence from this. Any time you can beat Pittsburgh twice, even twice in a row, it's a big boost. That's still a very good team over there," offered Flyers head coach Craig Berube.
Brayden Schenn tallied at even strength, Matt Read added a short-handed marker and Claude Giroux contributed a pair of assists in his 400th NHL game.
Steve Mason came up with 20 saves to earn his 28th win of the season.
Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen and Jayson Megna scored for the Penguins, who were outscored by an 8-3 count over the weekend thanks to missing defensemen Kris Letang and Paul Martin, along with forwards Chris Kunitz and James Neal.
Jeff Zatkoff took the loss, after allowing Read's goal on 20 shots faced. Fleury had surrendered three scores on 15 shots before departing.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were both held without a single point in both contests, which included Saturday's 4-0 road setback.
"We'll keep working. We'll keep trying to do the right things," Niskanen said. "Focus on details and our work ethic and keep plugging away here."
Mason did his part to keep his club in front by a goal. He made two quick saves on Megna while seated with almost 4 1/2 minutes played in the third, then flashed his right pad to stun a Malkin right-wing blast with just over eight minutes gone.
Zatkoff came to the bench for an extra skater as 1:24 remained in regulation, and a twist of fate kept the Penguins in the contest.
Read was on the forecheck and stripped Crosby inside the hosts' zone, but fired high and wide to the empty net, and Crosby came flying up the left wing in transition but Mason was equal to the shot.
Crosby was given one last try to the net in the final seconds after the near- side official failed to catch Malkin offside, but the host captain's poke from a cross-ice dish hit the right post.
"That's all I gave him," Mason quipped of Crosby's last chance. "The post is part of my equipment."
Schenn opened the scoring just after the two-minute mark of the first, following up a Simmonds miss and sliding the puck between the legs of Pens defenseman Rob Bortuzzo and over the line from atop the crease.
Simmonds doubled Philly's edge by deflecting a Kimmo Timonen point drive between Fleury's pads at 6:47, and though the visitors failed to click on a subsequent power play, they capitalized on the next one.
Simmonds was allowed to follow up his own rebound from the left side of the crease just before the midway point of a Taylor Pyatt high-sticking minor, and it was 3-0 at 13:41.
Zatkoff was summoned from the bench, and the hosts finally responded with 2:27 left in the period as Jussi Jokinen's screen allowed a bouncing Orpik point drive to sail home.
Niskanen powered a shot through Mason from the right point and the Pens were back to 3-2 at 5:50 of the second. That momentum was reversed on the next Pittsburgh power play, as Read ripped one by Zatkoff from the left wing to cap a 2-on-1 for a 4-2 game at 12:11.
The hosts were unfazed, and Brian Gibbons fed Megna in front with 3:41 left and it was a one-goal contest once more.
"You gotta be prepared to do what you need to do on any given shift no matter who you play with," Megna said of the line changing due to injuries and call ups.
The Flyers recorded their first home-and-home series sweep against the Penguins since Jan. 21-23, 2006 (2-1, 4-2) ... Philadelphia improved to 8-2-0 during the regular season in the Pens' new arena ... Pittsburgh has dropped three of four this season against their cross-state rivals, with one more meeting scheduled for April 12 in the Steel City ... Referee Mike Hasenfratz left the game in the second intermission and did not return due to concussion- like symptoms ... Simmonds leads Philly with 12 power-play goals, and recorded his second contest this year with a pair on the advantage (12/28 in Edmonton) ... Read has scored four of the Flyers' eight short-handed goals in 2013-14.
03/16 17:33:56 ET
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