The Philadelphia Flyers went into Pittsburgh tonight looking to bounce back after some backbreaking losses the past few games that all but put the playoffs out of reach. Carter Hart especially was looking to get himself right after an ugly performance against Buffalo last weekend.
The first period was a fairly boring affair. The teams traded man advantages, but neither side put a whole lot of pucks on net, and when tested, Jarry and Hart both stood tall. Interestingly, both teams newcomers, Jeff Carter for the Penguins and Wade Allison for the Flyers, were the most noticeable players on the ice. Carter had a ton of opportunities, and Allison was playing really well in the offensive zone.
After a boring first period, both teams came out hungrier in the second. But when Hart dove for a poke check and missed, Sidney Crosby managed to slip one in through the five hole for the first goal of the game. Crosby had lost his stick earlier in the play, but managed to grab one in transition just in time to be in the perfect place as he so often does.
Both netminders were infallible for the remainder of the period. Hart made a miraculous save by somehow trapping a puck under his body while sprawling out, denying an excellent Penguins chance, then decided to put on a show reminiscent of the Hart we all know and love.
Not to be outdone, Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry did the exact same, multiple times actually, managing to keep the Flyers off the scoreboard going into the third period. Allison especially managed a number of chances, even seeing some time on the Flyers powerplay late in the period, but the Penguins netminder refused to budge.
But come the third, Jarry’s shutout was broken when a blocked Phil Myers shot trickled over to Jake Voracek who promptly drove to the slot and slid the puck through the wickets to tie the game for the Flyers. However, they didn’t get to celebrate for long, as the Penguins put together a hard push but came up empty.
Disaster struck the Flyers a few moments later when a spiraling puck came up high on Nolan Patrick, sending him to the ice. Patrick saw it coming and tried to turn his head, but for a player with a history of concussions and head injury, it’s scary to see him go down like that. Hockey is just a game, and I really hope that Patrick is ok.
Both teams got back to work quickly, but it once again became the story of the goalies. Hart made fantastic save after fantastic save, and Jarry did the same, with neither one willing to budge. Despite some late period penalty weirdness, both teams decided they didn’t want to go home yet, and we moved on to the 3-on-3 overtime.
It did not start well for the Flyers. The Penguins managed advantage after advantage but again, Hart was up to snuff, making some great saves to bail out a couple of really iffy turnovers by the Flyers. With almost no momentum, Couturier pinned the puck in front of the benches while Crosby got his stick caught in Couturier’s legs, drawing a trip giving the Flyers a 4-on-3 against a Crosby-less Penguins. The Flyers set up well and were moving the puck, but no play developed and they entered the shootout without really testing Jarry.
Historically, the Flyers have never beaten the Penguins in a shootout ever, and it started poorly when Jake Guentzel opened up Hart’s five-hole for an easy first goal for the Penguins. The captain Claude Giroux answered right back, undressing Jarry to tie it up. Crosby tried to go glove hand, but Hart stood tall, snagging the puck. Sean Couturier went next, turning his back to Jarry going backhand, top shelf to give the Flyers the advantage. Kris Letang went last for the Penguins, but Hart didn’t budge, capping off a brilliant performance and beating the Penguins in the shootout for the first time ever.
Games like this truly show the talent of this roster when everything is going well. Wade Allison had an excellent debut, getting a ton of good chances, and of course Hart put on a clinic for the Flyers between the pipes. With a decent amount of ground to go, the Flyers need to play close to perfect down the stretch if they want to see the postseason, and while it’s highly unlikely, getting the younger players who have been struggling locked back in is critical for this core moving forward.
The Flyers are heading home for an afternoon game against the Washington Capitals this Saturday, and they’ll be looking to generate some momentum from tonight’s outstanding performance.