The Philadelphia Flyers, after an incredibly dismal start to the game, battled hard all night and came from behind to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday night. The Flyers improved to 12-5-3 and leapfrogged the Boston Bruins for 3rd place in the East Division with the victory.
The game started out very poorly for the Flyers as Kris Letang fired home a shot just 2:46 into the first period. The puck deflected off the glove of the Flyers’ Travis Sanheim and fooled goaltender Brian Elliott, who eventually stopped 26 shots in the win. 34 seconds later, former Flyer Mark Friedman, who was claimed off waivers on February 24th by the Penguins, scored his first NHL goal as Claude Giroux accidentally swatted the loose puck into the slot. Friedman was all alone to pot the goal and beat Elliott, which made the score 2-0.
Pittsburgh still wasn’t done haunting the Flyers yet as Jared McCann capped off the rally by diving to smack in a slick cross-ice feed from Kasperi Kapanen 37 seconds after Friedman’s goal to make it three Penguins goals in 71 seconds. After a lifeless start and an early timeout by head coach Alain Vigneault, the Flyers would finally answer at the the 11:31 mark of the 1st period thanks to a power play bullet from Sean Couturier from inside the left faceoff dot. It eluded Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry, partly thanks to a beautiful screen from James van Riemsdyk to take Jarry’s eyes off the puck.
The second period was a goaltending duel, as Elliott and Jarry went back and forth, making big save after big save to help their teams out. Giroux, who was moved from wing to center for tonight’s matchup, finally solved Jarry at 6:49 of the second period as he stuffed home a juicy rebound after a great scoring chance in close by Oskar Lindblöm. That cut the Pittsburgh lead to 3-2, and that’s how the 2nd period would close out on the scoreboard.
The Flyers kept pushing hard in the third period and their hard work was finally rewarded by a Scott Laughton goal that deflected off his pants from the stick of Giroux with just 6:23 to play in the 3rd. The comeback was finished off by yet another great play from Giroux with 2:08 left in the period. He worked hard along the boards deep in the Pittsburgh zone to help the Flyers maintain possession to keep the play alive. Giroux was rewarded for his efforts by going to the crease and getting the goal off of a nice pass in front from Nicolas Aubé-Kubel.
The Flyers would stand tall in the final moments to seal the deal and defeat the Penguins for the third time in 4 matchups so far this season. For the Flyers, this was their first 0-3 deficit comeback since October 25th, 2016 against the Buffalo Sabres at Wells Fargo Center.
3 STARS OF THE GAME – 1. Claude Giroux (PHI) , 2. Nicolas Aubé-Kubel (PHI), 3. Jared McCann (PIT)
- Claude Giroux – This was easily Giroux’s best performance of the season, coincidentally in his first game of the season where he played center. The captain scored his first goal since January 28th at New Jersey, and seemingly put the team on his back in the third period to help the Flyers overcome their deficit. 2 goals and an assist for his 3rd three-point game of the year, one of which was the game-winner. He also elevated his career point total to 832, just 17 shy of Brian Propp in 3rd place. His goal total is also now up to 259, good for just 5 behind 9th place Simon Gagné. Keep it rolling Claude!
- Brian Elliott – The Moose was loose tonight and despite the Flyers’ shaky start, he battled back and made some key saves in helping them propel themselves to their comeback victory. Elliott finished the game with 26 saves and improved to 6-1-0 in 9 appearances this season. Tonight’s game was Elliott’s 56th win in Orange and Black and now sits just 4 wins shy of Robert Esche for 14th on the Flyers’ all-time list.
- Sean Couturier – Couturier stayed red-hot with his power play goal to extend his point streak to 8 consecutive games. The line of James van Riemsdyk-Sean Couturier-Jake Voracek was particularly dangerous tonight, combining for 10 shots on goal, and Voracek earned a helper on Couturier’s goal that van Riemsdyk also screened the goalie on. The reigning Selke Trophy winner had another great game for the Philadelphia Flyers tonight.
- Joel Farabee – Farabee was placed on the NHL COVID-19 List before the game and was forced to sit out as a result, and head coach Alain Vigneault had to shuffle his lines in response. Hopefully Joel is okay and we wish him the best.
The Flyers return to PPG Paints Arena on Saturday afternoon at 1:00pm ET to close out their three-game road trip in Pittsburgh, and hopefully they can close out the series as well as they closed out tonight’s game.