The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins have one of the best rivalries in the NHL. Now, they will face off for the seventh time in a playoff series starting on Wednesday at the PPG Paints Arena. Playoff series’ of the past have given us Tim Kerr’s 10-goal series in 1989, Mario Lemieux’s five-goal, eight-point game in 1989, Keith Primeau’s five-overtime goal in 2000, and back-to-back series won by the Pens in the 2008 Eastern Conference Final and 2009 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals.
Though, the last series they played in the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals was one that was very memorable for those not named Ilya Bryzgalov or Marc-Andre Fleury, who gave up a combined 47 goals. That series saw the two teams combine for 56 goals, 312 penalty minutes and a lot of great moments. To get fans ready for this year’s installment of the “Battle of PA” we will count down the six best moments of that historic series.
Game 1 Comeback
Game 1 of the series picked up exactly where the past two series losses to the Penguins in 2008 and 2009 left off, with Sidney Crosby scoring an early goal and ending the first period with two points, giving the Pens a 3-0 lead.
The always-clutch Danny Briere responded with the next two goals assisted by Brayden Schenn, who was playing in his first postseason game. Then, Schenn scored his first playoff goal on a power-play tip-in to tie the game with under eight minutes to play. The comeback was complete when Jakub Voracek found a loose puck in front of the net and put home his first career playoff goal and the franchise’s 35th overtime goal.
Double Hat Trick in Game 2
Game 2 was full of goals, as Crosby immediately put the Game 1 demons to bed, scoring only 15 seconds in. After a Chris Kunitz power-play goal made it 2-0, Claude Giroux’s amazing night began with a shorthanded assist on Max Talbot’s goal to make it 2-1. The Flyers are crushed after Paul Martin sneaks one by Bryzgalov with only 17 seconds left in the first, but Giroux would score his first goal of the game in the second period on the power play to make it 3-2.
Giroux would later tie the game at three with his second goal, a shorthanded tally on a nice give-and-go with Talbot. On that same power play, six seconds later, Kunitz would score his second, but at the end of the period, with three seconds left, rookie Sean Couturier got into the scoring action to tie the see-saw game at 4-4 at the end of the second period.
In the third period, Tyler Kennedy got an awful-looking goal by Bryzgalov, but Couturier answered on a nice play, picking the pocket of Ben Lovejoy and scoring his second of the game to tie it at five. Former Penguin Jaromir Jagr will be credited with the game-winning goal, scoring to give the Flyers a 6-5 lead, but the night belonged to Giroux and Couturier. Couturier finished off his hat-trick on a nice 2-on-1 pass from Giroux with 1:49 left in the third.
The historic night was capped off when Giroux finished his hat-trick into an empty net assisted by Couturier in an 8-5 victory. It is the only time in franchise history teammates had hat-tricks in the same game. Giroux’s six points in a game is a franchise record and Couturier’s four-point performance tied Peter Zezel’s rookie record for most points in a game.
Max Talbot’s 2nd Shorthanded Goal in Game 3
Game 3 shifted the series to Philadelphia and started off with another bad goal against Bryzgalov on a snapshot by Jordan Staal. The next goal, though, defined why the Flyers eventually won the series. The penalty killing duo of Giroux and Talbot broke free on a two-on-two against Paul Martin and Matt Niskanen. The Pens defenders had perfect position on these two and even got a good backcheck from Staal, but somehow Talbot’s weak backhand went off Marc-Andre Fleury’s glove and into the net for the tying goal.
Bryzgalov, as we have documented, was not good at all in this series with a .871 save percentage but Fleury was even worse with a .834 save percentage. This goal by a good friend of his, and a former teammate, can be played over and over to show how he was just not right in this series.
Game 3 Turns into Fight Night
After the Talbot goal, there was a nice shoving match between all the players on the ice and that was just the beginning of what became the advertisement for this rivalry for years to come. With about eight minutes left in the second period during a stoppage in play, Crosby knocked away Voracek’s glove and set off some fireworks. Crosby and Claude Giroux dropped the gloves in the Flyers zone, and, in the neutral zone, Kimmo Timonen dropped the gloves with Kris Letang. This altercation sparked the postgame comments by Crosby telling a scrum of reporters “I don’t like them because I don’t like any guy on their team,” which later became a Flyers t-shirt giveaway and a chant for the crowd.
The fighting continued with under five minutes to go as James Neal charged at Giroux and was given a misconduct. During the stoppage, Scott Hartnell and Crosby went at it but Craig Adams stepped in and was given an instigator while fighting Hartnell. Adams was given a game misconduct and was suspended for Game 4 because of a violation of NHL Rule 46.12 – Instigator in Final Five Minutes of Regulation Time (or Anytime in Overtime), and as outlined by NHL Rule 46.22.
When the dust settled in this 8-4 victory, and a 3-0 series lead, the Flyers finished with 69 penalty minutes and the Penguins finished with 89 penalty minutes in one of the most memorable games of this bitter rivalry.
Seven Powerplay Goals in Game 4
Turning back to the original theme of this series and goals, Game 4 had a lot of them. The Penguins avoided the sweep and won the game 10-3 behind a Jordan Staal hat-trick. The game set a franchise record for both teams with seven power-play goals. Off the heels of the penalty-filled Game 3, the teams combined for 100 PIMs in Game 4. The Flyers were 3-for-5 on the man advantage while the Penguins were 4-for-9.
Claude Giroux Welcomes Sidney Crosby to Game 6
The Flyers let the Penguins back into the series with two straight wins but Claude Giroux was determined to make sure this crazy series was over after six games. Off the face-off of Game 6, the puck found Crosby at the Flyers blue line, who was drilled by Giroux in front of the Pens bench, much to the delight of the home crowd. The puck would be frozen down in the Flyers end, but off the ensuing face-off and just 32 seconds into the game, Giroux would steal the puck in the offensive zone and wrist one past Fleury for the early 1-0 lead.
The Flyers would win that game, 5-1, and Giroux would finish the series with six goals and eight assists. His 14 points in the series were one shy of Tim Kerr’s franchise record that he recorded back in 1989 against the Penguins. This Wednesday will deliver the next chapter in this rivalry and I am sure it will provide many more memorable moments, so sit back and enjoy, hockey fans.
Former Producer for the NHL Network and Fantasy Insider for NHL.com. Emmy award winning ESPN alum & former PR for the Flyers & Phantoms. Proud Temple Univ. Grad.