PITTSBURGH -- When you’re facing the No. 1-ranked power play and penalty kill during a two-game weekend series, it’s pretty safe to suggest that special teams will make a difference.
That’s where the Flyers came up with a gargantuan effort in sweeping the Penguins this weekend, 4-0 on Saturday at home and 4-3 on Sunday at CONSOL Energy Center.
Wayne Simmonds had two power-play goals Sunday while Matt Read, who scored three goals overall, had shorthanded goals, one in each game.
Simmonds has 12 power-play goals and 20 power play points this season and is among the league leaders.
Read’s shorthanded goal in the second period Sunday was the game-winner and actually gave the Flyers a 4-2 lead at the time.
The Flyers' penalty kill units were a perfect 9 for 9 in two games while their power play went 3 for 7.
Was there something the Flyers saw in Pittsburgh’s power play they could exploit?
“Nothing really,” Read said. “They have the No. 1 power play in the league. It was just about taking time and space away from them. Getting in the right lanes, put your sticks in the right positions. Our whole penalty kill unit did a very good job this weekend. We didn’t give them time to make plays and it caused a couple turnovers and breaks the other way.”
The Flyers were far more aggressive attacking the Penguins' PK box than Pittsburgh was in attacking the Flyers. Coming into the weekend, the Flyers were 12th in power play and ninth in penalty killing.
“Power play, penalty kill, very good again,” said coach Craig Berube. “Lots of shots, lots of chances. We played a real strong game.”
Their PK shut down Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Neither had a point in both games.
“It gives us momentum and the guys have done a great job at it,” Berube said, crediting Ian Laperriere’s work on the PK and Joey Mullen on the power play. “They’ve got real good sticks right now, blocking shots.”
He too said the two shorthanded goals in both games wasn’t because Lappy spied something on film.
“No, you just do a good job, they get a break and they’re attacking the other way,” he said. “That’s all it was. We had a couple 2 on 1s. It’s nice when we’re doing that and not getting a 2 on 1 the other way.”
Sean Couturier logged 11:37 shorthanded ice time on the PK in both games. Partner Matt Read logged 8:08 in both games.
“Lappy did a good job video scouting,” Couturier said. “We were well prepared. We did the right little things, like putting our sticks in passing lanes and taking away shots. Overall, it was a very good week for special teams, even the power play.”
Simmonds lauded the PK units.
“Unfortunately, we take a lot of penalties,” he said. “Our PK has been top five to 10 the last three years. Those guys work their butts off every game. They give us a chance to win every night.”