The Philadelphia Flyers played host to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night in the eighth and final meeting between the two rivals this season. The Flyers, who were celebrating goaltender Brian Elliott’s 500th NHL game, could not give the occasion the proper celebration and lost 7-3.
The Penguins, who were dominated last night 7-2 by the Flyers, came out with a lot more jump than they showed on Monday and got on the board quickly. Marcus Pettersson received a sweet feed next to the Flyers’ cage from Jared McCann. Pettersson was able to skate in and dangle Brian Elliott out of position and slid the puck under his left pad to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead just 1:44 into the hockey game.
Despite the slow start, the Flyers tried hard to push back and eventually looked much closer to the team we saw in last night’s game, but they couldn’t yet solve Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry.
The Flyers would be shorthanded at the 13:58 mark of the first period after Justin Braun was called for tripping on Jake Guentzel, and the lowly penalty kill would take to the ice for the first time tonight.
Luckily, Philadelphia lived to tell about it as the penalty kill unit came up large against the always dangerous Penguins power play. They were able to let Braun escape the penalty box without costing his team on the scoreboard.
The Flyers would have some good zone time and created great scoring chances but it was all for naught as the first period came to a close and they still had a goose egg listed on their side of the scoreboard. The Penguins held a 1-0 lead and an 11-7 shots on goal advantage as the first intermission began.
The second period began with a little bit more juice from the Flyers and early on we had some fireworks, too. Mark Friedman laid a huge open-ice hit on Joel Farabee, and the Flyers did not take kindly to that at all. Jake Voracek skated over and gave Friedman a big cross-check and was penalized for it, but Farabee then skated over to the former Flyer and dropped the gloves with him.
Farabee and Friedman didn’t chuck knuckles for very long as after Friedman delivered a couple shots to Farabee, Philadelphia’s leading goal scorer one-punched Friedman in the side of the head and sent him tumbling to the ice. The two combatants would head to their respective penalty boxes to serve their fighting majors just 1:32 into the frame.
Unfortunately for the Flyers, Voracek’s penalty for briefly sticking up for his teammate would cost them. After a wild array of flying sticks and a ton of puck luck, a broken-sticked Kris Letang shot bounced over to Guentzel. The Pittsburgh winger was able to squeak a shot under the sprawled-out Elliott and it trickled in to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead on the power play with 16:50 left in the period.
Pittsburgh was still hungry for goals and Sidney Crosby again delivered for them for the second time in two games. Pettersson shot a puck from the point that deflected off of Nolan Patrick and the puck changed directions in a hurry. Crosby was right on the spot and was able to track and redirect the puck into the cage to give the Penguins a commanding 3-0 lead with 14:16 to play.
For whatever reason, Crosby’s tally was the breaking point for the Flyers and they finally woke up immediately afterwards. Less than three minutes after Crosby’s goal, the Flyers pressured the Penguins and sent a shot on Jarry that couldn’t be coralled and a net-mouth scramble ensued.
Justin Braun was able to pick the puck out of the pile and fired a beautiful shot past Jarry to give the Flyers life and cut the score to just 3-1. It was his first goal since January 21st, 2020, which also happened to come against the Penguins albeit as a long distance empty-netter. Wade Allison earned his first NHL assist on the play as well after being involved in the net-front scrum.
Just past the halfway mark of the period, Travis Konecny decided to get into Crosby’s kitchen and the two were involved in a brief wrestling match that saw them each earn matching roughing minors for their troubles. If the early period fight wasn’t enough, this event pretty much now solidified that this was indeed a real Flyers-Penguins game.
The Flyers continued to keep their foot on the gas and late in the period their efforts were rewarded thanks to Sean Couturier. Couturier and Travis Sanheim played a little give-and-go as they rushed into the Pittsburgh zone as Couturier was looking to make a pass. The puck deflected off the skate of Jeff Carter and it fooled Jarry to make it a 3-2 game with just 1:20 remaining in the middle frame.
3-2 is how things would wrap up after 40 minutes of play. The Flyers outshot the Penguins 13-12 in the period and scored two goals to stay within range of Pittsburgh to try and mount a comeback to win the game.
The two teams would play pretty evenly for the early portion of the third period up until about eight minutes in. Kasperi Kapanen stripped the puck away from Claude Giroux just inside the Philadelphia blueline, and Evgeni Malkin dished the puck to a wide-open Zucker at the goal mouth. Zucker wasted no time as he put on a nice move on Elliott and roofed the puck upstairs to give Pittsburgh a 4-2 lead.
Just 2:34 later, the Flyers would respond again thanks to Konecny. Konecny skated into the zone along the right wing and fired a shot from a severe angle that Jarry could not handle. It caromed off Jarry’s pad, off the skate of John Marino, and across the goal line to make it a 4-3 game on Konecny’s 11th goal of the year.
The Penguins would put together a response of their own just 2:10 later as Crosby rifled a one-timer from one knee over the glove of Elliott after a pass from Bryan Rust. Elliott was really deep in his net on the play, and the Pittsburgh captain’s second goal of the night restored their two-goal lead at 5-3.
Philadelphia kept pushing and tried to pull within a goal’s margin again, but even with the extra attacker on the ice it wasn’t enough. Mark Friedman would ice the game with 4:07 to play and took a vicious Shayne Gostisbehere cross-check into the boards for his troubles. It was more evident tonight than ever before that there’s no love lost between Friedman and his former teammates.
The Penguins would add insult to injury while Gostisbehere sat in the penalty box as defenseman John Marino added a power play wrister to Pittsburgh’s goal total to make it a 7-3 game with 3:03 left in this one.
That would be all she wrote as the Flyers lost 7-3 to their intrastate rivals in Brian Elliott’s 500th NHL game, and this was surely a night that him and the Flyers will try to move past.
- Sean Couturier – Couturier scored his 16th goal of the season and he has now scored points in seven of his last eight games. The reigning Selke Trophy winner now has 38 points in 42 games, which is a tremendous year for himself personally while the team is having the opposite.
- Joel Farabee – Farabee racked up his second fight in the last five days after his brief tilt with Mark Friedman early in the second period. It’s been pretty clear that the Flyers do not like Friedman and Farabee made the defenseman answer the bell after he laid him out with a big check. Farabee got the best of Friedman with one huge punch and it was great to see.
- Justin Braun – The veteran defender scored his first goal in 68 games dating back to January 21st, 2020 against these same Penguins. Braun has been one of Philadelphia’s best defensemen in the latter half of this season and he’s a very likeable player, and it was nice to see him look comfortable and get back on the scoresheet.
- Claude Giroux – The captain recorded another multi-point outing, his second in as many days and his third in six games. Giroux racked up two assists and continues to creep up on Bill Barber on the franchise’s all-time assists list.
- We Still Have 3 Games Left – Tonight’s loss stung and not because they played terribly, because they actually looked decent aside from the penalty kill. But this one hurt because they kept finding ways to stick around in the game and be competitive and they still couldn’t get enough energy going to come back and win. The score would suggest that this game was a blowout but if you watched it, the Flyers actually were the better team for quite a few stretches tonight. Just too many giveaways and too many penalties sealed their fate tonight, and we still have three more games to watch where the same things will probably continue as they have since March. Keep bringing the hits, we can take them at this point.
The Flyers’ next game will take place on Friday night in our nation’s capital as they’ll take on the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena. They’ll play the first of their final two meetings against the playoff-bound Capitals. Hopefully the Flyers can start the game with a little more jam and get ahead of things for once, unlike tonight.