Apr 2, 2008, 11:15 PM EST
True to this season’s form, the Flyers and Penguins got rough early and often tonight in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, the Penguins prevailed, 4-2. Both teams were out for blood, and as is often the case when Sidney Crosby is on the ice, the refs decided to take a night off on calling it even. The Penguins’ potent powerplay capitalized on the extra opportunities, scoring
three four goals on the man-up.
Neither team wasted any time trying to establish a physical presence. Less than 3 minutes in, Riley Cote and George Laraque were both on the ice, which can only mean one thing.
True he didn’t go all Andre Roy on Laraque, touted by many as the league’s best fighter, but he held his own, and Cote’s really improved as a fighter over this season and seems to have no fear when the gloves are dropped.
The first period even saw ladies man Joffrey Lupul drop the gloves for a face scratch & hair pull with Brooks Orpik, a man so repulsive even Pens fans hate him. A minute later, Sidney Crosby stopped just short of netting his second career Youtube fight highlight, settling for matching roughing calls with Lasse Kukkonen.
The first intermission didn’t calm things down any, and just a few minutes into the second period, Scott Hartnell, who’d scored in the first period, was hit in the face with the butt end of the stick by Sergei Gonchar.
Hartnell’s nose was bleeding from three places, yet no penalty was called. The refs would later tell John Stevens that they didn’t see it happen, but since both skaters were the only players near the puck, that’s hard to fathom. Yet just a few minutes later, Hartnell was called for charging NHL posterboy Sidney Crosby, and Hartnell was sent off along with with Braydon Coburn, each earning 2 minutes, with no Penguins joining them in the box despite two of them jumping Hartnell in the aftermath. Crosby scored on the ensuing PP, tying the game at 2. Seemingly unsatisfied with the refs’ ability to manage the game, Hartnell decided to take matters into his own hands. With a busted nose, he quickly tried to settle a score with Orpik, who threw a punch, but refused to drop the gloves with Hartnell, who was raring to go.
The refs had seen enough, and sent both players off for 2, much to Orpik’s chagrin. Evgeni Malkin would add the go-ahead goal, which eventually proved to be the game winner. Danny Briere and Kimmo Timonen were both shaken up in the game, but no updates as to their injuries are available yet.
Elsewhere, the Bruins lost their contest with Montreal but earned a sympathy point by getting to overtime. They sit alone in the 7th seed, and the Flyers drop to 8th. The Capitals are just 1 point behind the Flyers, who finish out their season against the Devils on Friday, followed by another matchup with Pittsburgh on Sunday. Both games are at home, and the Flyers can lock up a playoff appearance by winning out. Otherwise, their fate will rest in part with the Capitals, who have only lowly Tampa Bay and Florida remaining on their schedule.
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