Carcillo's return lifts Flyers past Red Wings, 4-3

Flyers4.jpgAfter being suspended two games for an “unintentional” high stick, it was decided that perhaps Dan Carcillo would be a snappy choice to start the game. It paid off instantly, and set the tone for the rest of a very, very big win for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Carcillo scored just 17 seconds into the first period when his wrist shot from the left circle found it’s way through Chris Osgood’s glove. It was a fitting start for Carcillo, who has become the emotional leader of a team on the brink of falling out of the playoffs and the atmosphere at Wachovia after he scored was electric.

“I wouldn’t say I gave anything extra today,” Carcillo said after the game. “We just went out and I played my game.”

Be careful to lay this win solely on Carcillo’s emotional spark. He played just 8:24 and finished with one shot, one goal and one hit, well below what we’re used to seeing from him this season. Yet despite the workmanlike team win, there’s no doubt that Carcillo’s presence boosted a team that needed some sort of spark.

And is there no greater fit for Carcillo than here in Philadelphia? He’s become an instant fan favorite with his physical style and his emotional approach to the game, and the Flyers fans have embraced a player that embodies the Philadelphia way of playing.

The Flyers live to fight another day, as they stave off a late-season collapse for one more game. They were able to take advantage of a tired, sluggish Red Wings team that was starting Chris Osgood in net — who challenged Boucher in a contest for “who can allow the most soft goals in a game”.

The Flyers will head to Toronto before taking on the New York Rangers in back to back games to close out the regular season, in a series that will decide the fate of both teams. Philadelphia was able to get two points out of a Detroit team that entered the weekend as the hottest in the NHL.

The Flyers locker room was far from celebratory after the win. The players were solemn as they talked about the victory, as they know their fate was delayed until the next game, when they’ll have to win the next Biggest Game Of The Season.

For now, Carcillo’s toothless grin while talking about a third period scrum with Tomas Holmstrom will be as much cheering as the team can afford.

Scroll Down For:

    Chris Kunitz found the fountain of youth in Game 7

    Leave a comment

    PITTSBURGH — Chris Kunitz has put together an impressive and often times overlooked resume during his 13 years in the NHL. He has been a top-line player on three Stanley Cup winning teams, he has an Olympic Gold Medal, and before Thursday’s Game 7 against the Ottawa Senators had scored 275 goals (regular season and playoffs) in the NHL.

    By any objective measure that is a fantastic career.

    During the Penguins’ 3-2 overtime win on Thursday to send them back to the Stanley Cup Final for the second year in a row, he played what was perhaps the biggest — and best — game of his career.

    It could not have come at a better time for the Penguins.

    Or at a more unexpected one.

    Kunitz played a role in all three Penguins’ goals, scoring two of them, including the overtime winner, and providing the key screen on Justin Schultz‘s third period power play goal. As if that was not enough, he also recorded an assist on that Schultz goal.

    He was, to say the least, a force and the single biggest contributor in the Penguins’ win. Even if he downplayed his overtime winner as simply being the result of a little bit of luck.

    “I was just trying to get into a soft spot,” said Kunitz. “The puck fluttered off my stick a little, I don’t know if it touched [Jean-Gabriel Pageau] or kept going right in, but it looked like there was a good screen on the goalie, it looked like he maybe fell down, it just found its way into the net. Sometimes you just get lucky when you put one on net.”

    Lucky or not, Kunitz was the unexpected hero in Game 7 and it came on a night where he seemed to rediscover his game.

    Kunitz playing such an essential role in a big playoff win wouldn’t have been that big of a shock four or five years ago.

    He has been a core player since arriving in Pittsburgh during the 2008-09 season and spent years skating on the top line alongside Sidney Crosby.  That presence on Crosby’s wing almost did more to hurt his reputation because there was always that belief he was simply a product of skating alongside the best player in the world. But he has always been more than that. He has been a legitimately good top-six winger that had also found success even when away from Crosby.

    But on Thursday it was a taste of the old days with Crosby setting up the overtime winner.

    “[Sheary] did a really good job bringing it up the wall and walking the blue like, and I think Sid was coming right off the bench,” said Kunitz. “When he drives it deep everyone gets scared and you can find that soft area because obviously Sid has great vision, and he put it right there. I just found a way to put it on net and got lucky.”

    What makes his performance such a stunner this season, and in this game, is that it came at a time when his best days were clearly in the past and he had gone from being a top-line, core player, to being more of a bottom-six role player.

    At the age of 37 that had to be expected. He was still able to do enough to be a useful contributor, but the consistent impact on the scoresheet wasn’t always there. Entering Game 7 on Thursday night he had yet to score a goal and had recorded just a pair of assists in his first 13 playoff games. Along with that postseason scoring drought he only scored nine goals during the regular season and had not found the back of the net since Feb. 16, a stretch of 78 days.

    Then there he is playing the role of hero in what was, to this point, the Penguins’ biggest game of the season.

    “He played his best game of the playoffs when it matters the most,” said Penguins forward Carl Hagelin. “That’s the type of guy he is and that’s the reason he has three Stanley Cup rings already. He’s just one of those guys you love having on your team.”

    This is pretty much what Game 7’s in the Stanley Cup playoffs are all about. Anything can happen when a series and a season all comes down to one game.

    It only takes one shot, one bounce, one play, one call or one huge performance from an unexpected player to totally re-write history.

    In Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals a year ago it was Bryan Rust, representing the next wave and younger generation of the Penguins, playing the role of hero with his two goal-game.

    This year, it was one of their long-time core players rediscovering his past glory for one night.

    2017 Stanley Cup Final schedule: Nashville Predators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

    Getty
    3 Comments

    The Pittsburgh Penguins might celebrate their hard-fought tonight, but they’d probably be wise to rest up. It won’t be long before they’ll face the well-rested Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

    That first contest will take place on Monday, May 29. The Penguins ended their series on Thursday (or, maybe Friday if you’re being a stickler) while the Predators get a week of rest after dispatching the Ducks this past Monday (May 22).

    NBC and NBCSN will have you covered for what should be a fast and fascinating series with a whole lot of gold/yellow going around. Game 1 will be on NBC, Games 2 and 3 will air on NBCSN and then the remaining contests will take place on NBC.

    Here’s the schedule in list form, as that may be easier to follow:

    2017 STANLEY CUP FINAL SCHEDULE
    Subject to Change/All Times ET

    Game Date Time (ET) Pittsburgh vs. Nashville Networks
    Game 1 Monday, May 29 8 p.m. Nashville at Pittsburgh NBC, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Game 2 Wednesday, May 31 8 p.m. Nashville at Pittsburgh NBCSN, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Game 3 Saturday, June 3 8 p.m. Pittsburgh at Nashville NBCSN, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Game 4 Monday, June 5 8 p.m. Pittsburgh at Nashville NBC, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Game 5* Thursday, June 8 8 p.m. Nashville at Pittsburgh NBC, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Game 6* Sunday, June 11 8 p.m. Pittsburgh at Nashville NBC, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Game 7* Wednesday, June 14 8 p.m. Nashville at Pittsburgh NBC, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    * If necessary

    Penguins end Senators’ magical run, reach second Stanley Cup Final in a row

    17 Comments

    The Ottawa Senators put up a resounding fight, but the Sens’ “Cinderella” story came to an end tonight.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins needed a double-overtime in Game 7 to write the final chapter, yet that’s what happened; now the defending champions prepare to face a well-rested Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Final.

    An unforgettable night for Kunitz

    Hot take: Mike Sullivan made the right move in placing Chris Kunitz on Sidney Crosby‘s line.

    Crosby created some chances early on in Game 7, but things just weren’t clicking for the Pittsburgh Penguins. That swap opened up some opportunities for Kunitz – once a constant linemate of Crosby – and the veteran winger provided perhaps the best performance of his impressive career.

    As surprising as this turn was, maybe it should have been expected; Kunitz is one of the greatest success stories of any undrafted players, after all.

    Plenty of twists and turns

    After a scoreless second period, the two teams traded goals within just 20 seconds; Chris Kunitz cashed in on a nice rush while Mark Stone finished a great Erik Karlsson setup to make it 1-1.

    More: Video and other details regarding those opening tallies.

    The third period featured plenty of drama, even if some of the larger points echoed earlier narratives. To be more precise, the Penguins leveraged their power-play opportunity to a 2-1 lead (via Justin Schultz), but Ryan Dzingel‘s rebound 2-2 goal ensured that the lead wouldn’t last.

    Read more about the 2-2 goals and some controversial moments from the third period here. You may also enjoy this Marc Methot hip check on Evgeni Malkin.

    The overtime period began with a frantic pace; even fans probably needed the breather. Some great Phil Kessel chances didn’t end the opening overtime period, so things went to double-OT.

    Ponder Kessel’s tumultuous times in the first overtime here.

    It wasn’t beautiful, but Chris Kunitz’s knucklepuck beat a keyed-in Craig Anderson to end the contest and the series. He came into Thursday with zero goals and two assists in 13 playoff games; he generated the game-winner, the game-opener and an assist, factoring into all three Penguins goals.

    Deep playoff runs come down to some combination of stars being stars and unexpected heroes shining in huge moments. The Penguins keep finding ways to get that equation just right.

    Penguins – Senators Game 7 goes to double overtime, try to breathe

    Getty
    2 Comments

    Try to breathe. Maybe meditate during this overtime intermission, if you need it.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators didn’t just need overtime to decide who would win Game 7 and advance to the Stanley Cup Final. It turns out that, despite an angry Penguins crowd, that they’ll need double OT.

    There were plenty of big chances during that span of “free hockey.” You could probably argue that Phil Kessel was the most frustrated player during that frame; he was unable to score but generated some golden opportunities.

    One really looked like it might have beaten Craig Anderson:

    Wow. This one likely stings more for Kessel, as he had a ton of time and space but missed the net.

    Kessel wasn’t the only player to get chances. There were a ton in this first overtime as both teams took thrilling swipes at victory. Still, number 81 provided some of the most memorable moments.

    You can watch Game 7 live on NBCSN. The game can also be viewed online and via the NBC Sports App. Here is the livestream link.