There was a time in Pittsburgh Penguins history during which a trip to Philadelphia nearly guaranteed a loss.
Saturday’s game was a throwback to that era.
The Flyers scored twice in the opening 8:12 and controlled every facet of their eventual 4-0 win over the visiting Penguins at Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers, desperate for points while trying to maintain a playoff spot, outshot Metropolitan Division-leading Penguins 40-25 as the outcome rarely seemed in doubt. The Pennsylvania rivals will meet again Sunday afternoon, this time with Pittsburgh (44-18-4 92 points) playing host.
The injury-depleted Penguins – they were missing wingers James Neal (concussion) and Chris Kunitz (bruised ankle) in addition to top-two defensemen Kris Letang (stroke) and Paul Martin (broken hand) – were shut out for the fourth time this season. Flyers goalie Steve Mason was rarely challenged in turning in the clean sheet.
On the other side of the rink, Marc-Andre Fleury was probably the Penguins’ best player despite allowing four goals to slip through. His 36 saves were the most he’s made since stopping 38 against the Rangers on Feb. 7.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin had afternoons to forget, posting a combined minus-5 rating. The two star centers couldn’t generate much offense despite the Penguins’ enjoying five power plays. They each played less than 20 minutes as coach Dan Bylsma looked toward Sunday’s game.
Not only did the Pens’ top-ranked power play shoot blanks, their No. 1 penalty kill permitted a goal by Scott Harnell just 3:50 into the game. Claude Giroux earned his first assist by setting up Hartnell’s hard one-timer from the left circle.
Less than five minutes later, Couturier stole a loose puck from Jussi Jokinen and fed Read for an accurate shot under the crossbar with the Flyers shorthanded.
The margin doubled in the late stages of the second period, as Vincent Lecavalier buried a beautiful breakaway goal and Read added his 18th of the season. Read’s second of the day completed an expert three-way passing play that involved Giroux and Couturier.
The Pens and Flyers square off for the fourth time this season at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. The game will be broadcast nationally on NBC.