Flyers' Couturier could play must-win Game 5

Evgeni Malkin

The Philadelphia Flyers are making it a series. Defensemen Robert Hagg, Travis Sanheim and winger Oskar Lindblom have also made an impression on the Flyers, with more promising guys in the pipeline.

On Sunday, April 22, the Pittsburgh Penguins shocked the Flyers in an 8-5 win in Game 6. The magic number is 4 for the Flyers heading in to Game 6.

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The Penguins play the victor of the Washington-Columbus series. Under third-year coach Dave Hakstol, this season's berth was considered a mild surprise, especially when the team lost 10 straight games in November/December and all seemed lost.

For Pittsburgh, Matt Murray was excellent in three of the four wins but not-so-good in game six and game two.

Pittsburgh skaters have accounted for the sixth-most hits in the league (24.0 per game).

The total has gone over in 11 of the Penguins' last 13 road games. In the second period of Game 5, the Penguins doubled their lead from 2-0 to 4-0 in 2:52. If their response following their first loss of the series is any indication, they should come out firing on all cylinders.

I know hockey players are tough, but Couturier played Games 5 and 6 on an injury that usually takes at least four weeks to heal, and he was the best player on the team while doing so. After both Guentzel and Jake Voracek were taken off with penalties to make it 4-on-4, Kris Letang took a cross-checking penalty to make it 4-on-3 for 1:29. Malkin has 103 points via 45 goals and 58 assists, and has recorded two or more points 28 times. 3, Pittsburgh, Hagelin 2 (Sheahan, Kessel), 7:17.

Couturier opened the scoring in Game 6 with a goal just 2:15 into the first period, then scored early again - at the 0:40 mark of the second period - to push the Flyers back into the lead at 3-2. Philadelphia doesn't have the same level of talent throughout its forward lines, so Couturier's presence in the lineup is extremely important.

In any case, Penguins players were clearly irked by the actions of the Philadelphia faithful, as evidenced by their reactions on the bench.

"That's what-if", said goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who didn't dress until Game 4 because of a lower-body injury.

Coots will be a Selke Finalist again, and will eventually win the Trophy.



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