The Philadelphia Flyers, who were celebrating their Pride Night, played host to their cross-state rivals in the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday. The Flyers ended their three-game losing streak with a hard-fought 7-2 victory over the Penguins in South Philadelphia.
The seventh edition of this season’s Battle of Pennsylvania opened with each team trading shots on goal early in the game, but Pittsburgh’s Casey DeSmith and Philadelphia’s Alex Lyon kept the game at a stalemate by recording three saves each before the Flyers nabbed the icebreaker.
Just 5:58 into the game, Kevin Hayes shot a Joel Farabee rebound at a yawning cage but DeSmith sprawled across and got it with his glove. But upon further review, DeSmith’s glove was across the goal line and the puck fully crossed the line as it was in his mitt, and Philadelphia was ahead 1-0 early on.
Less than a minute later, Marcus Pettersson was whistled for hooking against Nolan Patrick and the Flyers headed to their first power play of the evening. They had some decent looks but could not score and the Penguins killed off the penalty.
The Penguins would try to respond shortly after, and Kasperi Kapanen fired a wrist shot from the point that Lyon fought off but the puck trickled over the Flyers netminder and creeped toward the goal line. Lyon, who lost his stick on the initial save, somehow sprawled out and was able to swipe away the puck off the line with his open blocker hand as the Penguins tried to jam away at the tying opportunity with 10:35 to play on the period.
The Flyers would head back to the power play at the 13:18 mark of the first period after Kapanen was called for interference against Phil Myers, and this time they would make no mistake on their second man advantage.
50 seconds into the power play, Travis Konecny dished the puck to Shayne Gostisbehere at the point, and Gostisbehere winded up and fired home a booming slapshot that eluded DeSmith through traffic and the Flyers took a 2-0 lead with 5:52 to play in period one. This was Gostisbehere’s 60th career goal which moved him into sole possesision of fourth place in franchise history in goals by a defenseman, just ahead of the great Behn Wilson’s 59.
Philadelphia wasn’t done haunting the Penguins just yet, as just 1:04 after Gostisbehere’s tally, Sean Couturier rimmed the puck around the left boards to Konecny, and Konecny accidentally-on-purpose deflected the puck to an open Claude Giroux. The streaking Giroux pounced on the puck and smacked it past the glove of the fooled DeSmith and the Flyers were up 3-0.
Luckily for the Penguins, the opening frame came to a end shortly after. The Flyers outshot Pittsburgh 20-11 and absolutely dominated the majority of the period. Philadelphia came out hungry for this one and they looked to continue pounding away at their opponent.
The Flyers would continue to pressure the Penguins as the second period wore on. Philadelphia would eventually break through on the scoreboard again with 12:10 to play in the middle stanza.
Gostisbehere spotted Scott Laughton up ice and delivered a beautiful feed from behind his own net up to Laughton at the Pittsburgh blueline. Laughton skated in and a short 3-on-2 ensued. Laughton passed the puck to the trailing Wade Allison and the rookie one-timed a rolling puck top shelf on DeSmith to make it 4-1 in favor of Philadelphia.
The two teams would mix it up a little with 2:08 remaining in the period as Laughton and Evgeni Malkin were each called for roughing after they had been battling in front of the Flyers’ crease a few moments earlier.
After a brief period of 4-on-4 hockey, the Penguins would earn their first power play of the night after Myers slashed Jared McCann while trying to retrieve a puck, and Pittsburgh would get 38 seconds of 4-on-3 time before the roughing minors expired. Eight seconds after that, time would expire on the period as well.
The Penguins had no response and could only muster another 11 empty shots in the period as Lyon disposed of all the Pittsburgh shots thus far. Philadelphia recorded 17 more shots on net in the second period to take a 37-22 advantage in that department into the second intermission as the horn sounded.
The Penguins would open the third period with a goaltending change as Tristan Jarry relieved DeSmith after he allowed 4 goals on 37 shots. It was a clear sign from Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan to his team that they needed to play better and they hung their goalie out to dry for much of the night.
Pittsburgh would respond early, and they were on yet another power play after Ivan Provorov sat for hooking Teddy Blueger. It was none other than notorious Flyer killer Sidney Crosby, who tapped home a nice feed from Kris Letang into the net past Lyon to give the Penguins life and make it a 4-1 game just 2:30 into the period.
The Flyers would again be shorthanded just over four minutes into the third after Robert Hägg was given a hooking minor of his own against Zach Aston-Reese. Philadelphia was able to kill this one off, but 25 seconds later another penalty was levied against them.
Joel Farabee was going after a loose puck after Jarry made a save way out from his crease and Farabee, who didn’t even have a clue where Jarry was since he was looking only at the puck, inadvertently collided with the Pittsburgh goalie and was given a very questionable goaltender interference penalty.
The Penguins would unfortunately take advantage and with just four seconds remaining in the penalty, Jason Zucker deflected a John Marino wrister from the point that beat Lyon and that cut the Flyers’ lead to just 4-2 with 11:36 to play.
3:13 after Zucker’s 8th of the season, Farabee exacted his revenge by snapping home a shot past Jarry after Jake Voracek was able to scoot the puck up the boards to his fellow winger. Farabee used his strength to power through a Pittsburgh defender’s attempted check and scored to make it 5-2 Philadelphia.
The Penguins would push hard and eventually pull Jarry for the extra attacker, but Giroux would have none of it and the captain sealed the game with an empty-netter to make it 6-3 Flyers with 3:21 to play in the final frame.
Robert Hagg decided to join in the fun as well, scoring a goal of his own with 1:05 to play to make it 7-2 Philadelphia after snapping a shot from the slot past Jarry after a nice pass from the left wing from Farabee.
The battle for supremacy in the Keystone State belonged to the east-siders in this one as 7-2 Flyers would stand as the final score.
- Shayne Gostisbehere – Gostisbehere recorded a goal and an assist in tonight’s effort. His goal was the 60th of his career, all coming with the Flyers, and that moved him into sole possession of fourth place among the franchise’s defensemen in goals. Whatever you think of Ghost, he undeniably has a great set of talent that has landed him in Philadelphia’s history books and hopefully he’s around a little longer to keep rewriting them.
- Claude Giroux – Giroux netted two goals and a helper for a 3-point night. His two goals bring him to 273, 17 behind Eric Lindros for 8th in Flyers history, and his point total has grown to 854 which now sits him only 29 points behind Bill Barber for second in franchise all-time scoring.
- Alex Lyon – Lyon easily played his best game of the year, making 35 saves on 37 shots in his first victory of the season and his first NHL victory since February 1st, 2020 against the Colorado Avalanche. This win was a long time coming for the former Yale standout and he certainly performed up to task tonight.
- Joel Farabee – Farabee scored his 17th goal of the season to take sole possession of the team lead from James van Riemsdyk. The Cicero, New York native had a great game was buzzing everywhere tonight, and got on the board with a beautiful power move as a bonus.
- Jake Voracek – Voracek racked up three assists in tonight’s contest and his point total now moves to 43 in 49 games. The Czech forward also made a little history tonight, surpassing Rod Brind’Amour for 10th in Flyers all-time scoring as Jake now sits at 604 points in Orange and Black. Voracek also now sits only 36 helpers shy of Bill Barber for fourth in assists in team history.
- Not Everyone Used Pride Tape In Warmups – Tonight was the Flyers’ Pride Night, and typically the players will show solidarity and support of the LGBTQ+ community by sporting rainbow-adorned team gear and usually every player ends up taping their sticks with the rainbow Pride Tape. But I noticed that not every player used it in warmups. I get that some players might have certain pregame routines or superstitions and don’t want to mess with different things, but it’s literally the bare minimum that they can do while they’re on the ice and it’s honestly a little disheartening that not everyone took the initiative to use it tonight. It was a glaring blip on an otherwise perfect evening for the team.
The Flyers are right back at it tomorrow night at Wells Fargo Center as they host the Penguins again in the two rivals’ final meeting of the season. Brian Elliott is expected to get the nod in goal for the Flyers in a game where they’re again looking to spoil the fun of the division-leading Penguins as the season comes to a close.