By Julie Glass
Remember last spring, when the Pens cleaned up on the hapless Flyers in the first round of the playoffs?
How about a little role reversal!
The surging Flyers host Pittsburgh Penguins at the Wells, and guess which team is struggling?
That’s right, the Pens.
The Flyers scored four times in the first period Saturday on their way to an easy 6-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. That defeat cost Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle his job as he was fired Sunday.
Following a season-high eight-game winning streak, the Flyers fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday. But they were able to keep the point streak alive and it carried over to an impressive four-goal win over the Ducks
The Flyers have been buoyed by rookie goaltender Carter Hart, who made 30 saves on his way to an eighth consecutive victory.
In the process, Hart tied an NHL rookie record for most consecutive victories before turning 21. Former Quebec Nordiques goaltender Jocelyn Thibault also accomplished the feat in March of 1995.
“I don’t look at those things,” Hart said. “Sure it’s cool, but we just want to win hockey games.”
Sean Couturier scored one goal and added two assists and has 23 goals and 25 assists this season as the Flyers continue to inch closer to a playoff spot.
It was Hart’s effort once again which catapulted the Flyers to another victory during this impressive stretch.
“For me, it was a relief to be able to get the power play goal (late in the game) and not have to worry about the (Ducks) goalie coming out,” Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon told reporters. “He obviously made some huge saves. It was 4-0 in the first period, but he made a couple huge saves in the first. “
The Penguins fell behind 3-1 Saturday and ultimately dropped a 5-4 decision to the host Tampa Bay Lightning.
Garrett Wilson, Jared McCann, Bryan Rust and Tanner Pearson each scored a goal for the Penguins. Rust added an assist, along with All-Star Sidney Crosby, who played in his 916th career game to move past Mario Lemieux and into first place in franchise history.
“The fact that I’ve stayed in Pittsburgh, I appreciate that,” Crosby said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The fact that I’ve been able to share a lot of those games with a core group of guys, that’s nice to be able to share that with them. I want to play as many as I can.”
McCann registered his career-best 10th goal of the season. He has also scored in two consecutive games, his first two goals with the Penguins after coming over from the Florida Panthers in a trade on Feb. 1.
Since their eight-game winning streak, the Penguins are 5-8-1 and have dropped four in a row. They have been without injured center Evgeni Malkin since Jan. 30 and he’s questionable to play against the Flyers.
The scuffling Penguins will be in for a battle against the hot Flyers.
“I still think to a certain extent, the type of mistakes that we make, we beat ourselves,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. “I thought our fight was there all night long. We pushed back.”
The Penguins managed to tie the game at 4 before falling short in the end. But the Penguins also allowed one short-handed goal, pushing that total to eight this season.
“I have nothing more to say about the power play,” Sullivan told reporters.