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Posted at 01:15 PM ET, 04/16/2012

Penguins-Flyers series full of fisticuffs; even Sidney Crosby drops the gloves

With all the goals scored in the Pittsburgh Penguins-Philadelphia Flyers series — 32 through three games — you’d think there wouldn’t be much time left for shenanigans.

But then you’d be forgetting that this is Pens-Flyers, and with these two teams, there’s always time for shenanigans.

Sunday’s Game 3 was no different as the Flyers scored eight goals for the second time in as many games in an 8-4 win — a total that was only one more than the number of players who received game misconduct penalties on an afternoon full of fisticuffs.

Even Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was in a fighting mood Sunday. He mixed it up with Kimmo Timmonen in the first period, fought Claude Giroux in the third, then nearly got into it again with Brayden Schenn and moments later tried grabbed hold of Scott Hartnell before Craig Adams stepped in for Pittsburgh’s star — with a little hair-pulling for good measure.

After the game, Crosby continued his meanstreak, declaring, “I do not like any guy on their team.”

Oh, it is so on.

It only seems fitting that the above Hulk Hogan video played on the scoreboard at Wells Fargo Center late in the third period after Hartnell and Adams became the third fight on a loaded card.

Hogan’s face — or faces similar to Hogan’s — have become a stalwart in this rivalry in recent weeks. On April 1st in Pittsburgh, Hartnell taunted a Penguins fan dressed as Hogan behind the Flyers bench. That prompted Philadelphia to hand out these Hartnell-inspired shirts to fans at Sunday’s game, and get Hogan in front of the camera.

During the final period, the Flyers faithful serenaded the Penguins with booming chants of “You can’t beat us!” And while they tried their best with their fists, Pittsburgh once again failed to get it done on the scoreboard.


Arron Asham’s cross-check to Brayden Schenn’s throat drew a 10-minute match penalty, and should trigger a suspension. (Bruce Bennett - GETTY IMAGES)
In all, 38 penalties were whistled, and by the final horn, both benches were considerably less crowded. Now the biggest question is how many players involved in the mayhem will face suspensions from the league.

Pittsburgh’s Arron Asham is a near-lock to miss time after he cross-checked Schenn across his throat, then delivered a punch for good measure. He was assessed a 10-minute match penalty for deliberate injury.

Penguins forward James Neal — who had two goals and one assist in the loss — went after Philadelphia’s Sean Couturier and Giroux in the third period, leaving his feet to drill the former and then going out of his way to hit the latter up high.

In a rare occurrence, NHL head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan will hold a joint hearing for both Penguins players on Monday, where punishments will likely be issued. But in a postseason where inconsistent rulings have become the norm, it’s difficult to predict whether Asham and Neal will receive a slap on the wrist like Nashville’s Shea Weber or a lengthy suspension, like the New York Rangers’ Carl Hagelin.

Meantime the Flyers are up 3-0 and one win away from ousting a team many tapped as a favorite to win the Stanley Cup. So far, however, inconsistent goal-tending, a lack of focus and a perpetual penalty box presence have the Penguins in danger of being swept out of the playoffs.

“All three games were kind of weird games,” Giroux said. “I guess I like weird games because we always finish by winning.”

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