Philadelphia Flyers struggle with Matt Murray in loss vs Penguins

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 11: Mikhail Vorobyev #24 of the Philadelphia Flyers shoots the puck towards Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins as Flyer Phil Varone #44 anticipates a rebound on February 11, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 11: Mikhail Vorobyev #24 of the Philadelphia Flyers shoots the puck towards Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins as Flyer Phil Varone #44 anticipates a rebound on February 11, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Philadelphia Flyers hosted a Metropolitan Division rival in the Pittsburgh Penguins hoping to nab their 26th win of the season.

Tuning up for their 2019 Stadium Series matchup later this February, the Philadelphia Flyers played host to the Pittsburgh Penguins looking to get within four points of the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Carter Hart received the start, opposing Matt Murray in-net. Murray came into the game with a 15-9-1 record, 2.97 Goals-Against Average, and a .909 save percentage. The Flyers could not squander an opportunity to get back in the playoff hunt and had to rise to the occasion both offensively and defensively in order to get the win.

Murray and Hart were tested early on, making some great saves on each side to keep everything tied up to begin the contest. Sidney Crosby eventually changed that minutes later, capitalizing on Hart losing track of a loose puck to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead. Nobody seemed to know where the puck went behind the net except Crosby and he took advantage for his 24th goal of the year. The Flyers tried to fight back throughout the rest of the period, but either couldn’t solve Murray or find the net with a shot as it remained a one goal game after one.

Philadelphia kept applying the pressure in the Pens zone with some of it stemming from a power-play chance, facing the same result in Murray standing tall. The Flyers had a 12-to-two shots-on-goal advantage six minutes in, but that didn’t seem to matter as Nick Bjugstad pushed Pittsburgh ahead by two with his sixth goal of the season. Hart was screened by a Penguins forward and failed to find the puck in time because of it. Murray continued to shut down the Orange-and-Black as the second came to the end, saving all 37 shots he faced in 40 minutes of play.

Hart single-handedly kept it a two goal contest at the start of the third, stopping five Pittsburgh shots in just under seven minutes. Jake Guentzel made it 3-0 with five to go in the period, but after Evgeni Malkin took a match penalty against Michael Raffl, Jakub Voracek responded with a power-play tally to put Philly within two. Kris Letang would end all hope with an empty-netter to seal it for the Penguins, 4-1.

You can’t say this team didn’t try. They put 28 freaking shots on net in the second period alone, that’s enough for one game let alone one period. Murray was simply better. I can’t be mad at how they performed. This loss snaps the Flyers ten game point streak and ties the season series with Pittsburgh at one. They are now eight points back of a playoff position, needing all the points and help they can get from here on out.

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Philadelphia is now 25-24-7 on the year. Next game is Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild.