Flyers cruise to 4-0 win over Penguins

The Flyers' Sean Couturier controls the Penguins' Sidney Crosby, whose line was shut out in the first game of a home-and-home weekend series.
The Flyers' Sean Couturier controls the Penguins' Sidney Crosby, whose line was shut out in the first game of a home-and-home weekend series. (ERIC HARTLINE / USA Today)
Posted: March 17, 2014

Unlike most Flyers-Penguins games, Saturday afternoon's matchup was devoid of any drama.

The Flyers weren't complaining.

They dominated from the opening faceoff and coasted to a 4-0 victory over their archrivals in front of a loud, sellout crowd at the Wells Fargo Center.

Matt Read scored two goals, Sean Couturier shut down Sidney Crosby, and Steve Mason collected his fourth shutout of the season as the Flyers remained in fourth place in the Metropolitan Division.

"Some games, there's ups and downs," Vinny Lecavalier said after notching his 15th goal, "but I felt we played with the momentum for 60 minutes."

Pittsburgh, the runaway leader in the Metro, was missing its top three wingers (Chris Kunitz, James Neal, and Pascal Dupuis) and two best defensemen (Kris Letang and Paul Martin), all sidelined by injuries.

"It's something we've been dealing with all year, and we've found a way," said Crosby, whose team was shut out for the first time in his 46 career games against the Flyers. "Now isn't the time to make excuses."

The teams will complete the home-and-home series Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh, where the Flyers notched a 2-1 win earlier this season behind Ray Emery's strong goaltending. Mason faced only 25 shots Saturday, and coach Craig Berube hinted he will come back with Mason.

"It's a very calming thing, knowing the guys are going on all cylinders," said Mason, who was never under siege. "From my standpoint, everything was very controlled, from our breakouts to our back-checking and our zone play."

The Flyers were the aggressors from the outset, peppering Marc-Andre Fleury with 40 shots.

Scott Hartnell opened the scoring while the Flyers were on a power-play, taking a pass from Claude Giroux (two assists) and one-timing a left-circle shot past Fleury with 16 minutes, 10 seconds left in the first period.

About 41/2 minutes later, Read, after a great setup by Couturier, went top shelf from the right circle to beat Fleury while the Flyers were shorthanded.

Lecavalier, showing the hands he possessed during his early days in Tampa Bay, took a long pass from Luke Schenn (five hits) and scored on a breakaway, giving the Flyers a 3-0 lead with six minutes remaining in the middle period.

With 17 seconds to go in the second, on arguably their prettiest passing play of the season, Read converted a tic-tac-toe attack with Couturier and Giroux, putting the Flyers ahead, 4-0.

Mason, who had a 3.49 goals-against average in his first six games since the Olympic break, was not tested much, as the Flyers spent most of the game in the Penguins' end.

Couturier, who had two assists and was plus-3, and his linemates shut down the injury-altered line centered by Crosby (minus-3), the NHL's leading scorer with 88 points. Before Saturday, Crosby had 74 points in 45 career games against the Flyers.

"We've got to put it behind us right away," Giroux said of the dominating victory. "They're going back home, and they're going to want revenge. We have to be ready."

Breakaways. It was the Flyers' first regular-season shutout of Pittsburgh since 2008 and just their fourth in 31 years. . . . Braydon Coburn blocked four shots and was plus-2. . . . On Saturday morning, the team unveiled a statue of the late Fred Shero outside Xfinity Live (see Inside the Flyers, D10.) Bob Clarke, the captain under Shero, went to Florida for a medical test recently and was not at the ceremony.


scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

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