Sean Couturier had a goal and two assists, Brian Elliott stopped 34 shots and the Philadelphia Flyers cooled off the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 on Friday night to even the first-round series at a game apiece.
Shane Gostisbehere, Travis Konecny, Andrew McDonald and Nolan Patrick also scored for the Flyers. They bounced back from an embarrassing 7-0 loss in the opener to beat the Penguins for the first time this season.
Game 3 is Sunday in Philadelphia.
Patric Hornqvist scored Pittsburgh’s lone goal with just over 5 minutes left to avoid the shutout, but the Penguins looked ordinary for long stretches after looking unstoppable in Game 1.
Matt Murray’s shutout streak dating to the 2017 Stanley Cup finals ended at 226:49 when Gostisbehere scored on the power play late in the first period. Murray finished with 16 saves to lose for just the third time in 17 home playoff starts in his career.
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol made no changes to the lineup that was picked apart in the series opener, confident his team would respond the way it did during various parts of an occasionally turbulent season.
That included staying with Elliott, who was pulled midway through the second period in Game 1 after giving up five goals on just 19 shots.
The 33-year-old didn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence early. He appeared to have no clue where the puck was when Patric Hornqvist’s shot zipped by his left pad only to smack off the post in the first period. Elliott appeared caught off guard moments later when Justin Schultz’s fluttering shot from just above the goal line handcuffed him. The puck stayed out of the net, however, and Elliott quickly steadied.
The Flyers struggled to sustain pressure on Murray but took advantage of what few opportunities they created. Philadelphia went on the power play late in the first period when Pittsburgh’s Zach Aston-Reese was called for boarding and the Flyers — who didn’t even manage a shot on net during four power plays in Game 1 — needed just one to take the lead.
Gostisbehere sent a shot from the point that made its way through a Nolan Patrick screen, between Murray’s legs and into the net with 37 seconds left in the opening period to end Murray’s shutout streak at 225:49, the fourth longest playoff shutout streak in the last 28 years.
It didn’t take the Flyers nearly as long to beat Murray again. Less than two minutes actually.
Murray actually managed to get his right pad on Couturier’s shot from in front but the puck popped up, caromed off Letang and into the net 47 seconds into the second.
The Penguins began pressing but Elliott responded. Crosby broke in alone just past the game’s midway point but Elliott’s glove swallowed up the Pittsburgh captain’s backhand attempt. Crosby had another chance in the final moments of the second period but when he couldn’t convert from the right post, he smashed his stick over the crossbar in frustration.
When Konecny held off Chad Ruhwedel and chipped the puck over Murray’s glove 1:21 into the third the Flyers had control of the game. Just over 18 minutes later they had their first victory Pittsburgh in 383 days to go home with the series even.
NOTES: Letang went to the dressing room for the majority of the second period after Giroux slammed into him just seconds after Crosby and Giroux collided. Giroux was not called for a penalty and Letang returned for the third period. … Pittsburgh went 0 for 4 on the power play. The Flyers were 2 for 3. … Amanda Kessel, a member of the gold-medal winning U.S. Women’s Hockey Team at the 2018 Olympics and the younger sister of Penguins forward Phil Kessel, led the sellout crowd at PPG Paints Arena in a “Let’s Go Pens” chant before the opening faceoff.
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