Jagr Didn’t Exactly Shame the Penguins

But still, the Flyers won

Ladies and gentlemen, the Philadelphia Flyers are in first place in the Atlantic Division and have earned a league-best 37 points. Last night the club won its 20th game (17-7-3) as they beat the Crosby-less Penguins 3-2. The contest was the first between the two in a season that’s more than one-fourth over.

But, the win wasn’t the only story from yesterday’s victory. The spotlight was on Jaromir Jagr and Max Talbot—both former Pens. This summer, it looked (for a while, at least) like 68 would don black and gold again as he returned to the NHL. Instead, Paul Holmgren snatched him up when Pittsburgh’s temperature on the issue registered tepid. Jagr missed two slam-dunks, couldn’t convert on an open net opportunity, and showed his age lagging behind the puck for much of last night’s game. It wasn’t the greatest showing from a guy who had expressed a less than nostalgic sentiment toward his former club in recent interviews.

Max Talbot got the start against his former team. He wasn’t able to notch a point but did register two shots and was a part of one of the craziest penalty kills of the season. The Flyers were killing off a 5-3 when Talbot’s stick snapped on the faceoff and Timonen’s broke shortly thereafter. Three players and one stick were enough to avert danger long enough for the Pens to commit a penalty of their own (sigh of relief).

Danny Briere looked like the poster child for Pete Townshend and company’s “Pinball Wizard” when he opened up the scoring early in the first period by banking a puck off of two Pittsburgh defenders and past Marc-Andre Fleury. The Flyers clearly bested the Pens in the first (they outshot Pittsburgh 15-8 on their way to a 1-0 lead. The Pens only had 12 shots through 30 minutes of play.

Claude Giroux—the NHL’s leading scorer entering the contest—didn’t find the back of the net but did notch an assist to add to his point total. The dish came on a play that saw Giroux exhibit an extraordinary amount of patience before a crisp cross-ice pass to Voracek who dumped it to Simmonds on the doorstep for the second goal of the game and one of the easiest goals the team’s scored all season.

Evgeni Malkin registered two points as he and Niskanen assited James Neal’s second-period goal before Malkin scored one of his own to keep things close down the stretch.

Scott Hartnell added to his point total and got the city’s 20-something demo to take a big swig (Hartnell down!) as he slammed a shot home and ate some ice right on the crease.

Philly’s defense proved stingy for most of the game—a refreshing showing from a team that, historically, has underperformed in that aspect of the game when team captain Chris Pronger is on the shelf. Ilya Bryzgalov earned a minor personal victory, in his second consecutive start, as he was able to hold the Pens to only two goals on 27 shots.

Big hits were sparse and only two players dropped gloves—surprising for two teams with such a tense history. The second installment of the keystone series is only three weeks away as the Flyers will head to Pittsburgh for a December 29th matchup.

Last night’s game was the second contest to be featured in the HBO mini-series documentary 24/7. The show will chronicle the Flyers and the Rangers leading up to the Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park on January 2nd.

The Orange and black have a night off before they host Tampa Bay at the Well on Saturday night.