The Philadelphia Flyers might have caught themselves a bit of break, as they host the injury depleted Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. This game might be what the doctor has ordered for the Flyers, as they try to salvage whats left of their fading playoff hopes.
The Penguins come to town down four defensemen and four forwards. Penguins defenseman Mark Streit was the latest casualty, as he suffered a lower body injury while blocking a shot in Monday nights contest against the Calgary Flames. However, he was healthy enough to play in this contest, saving the Penguins from being down five defensemen.
Should Pens be concerned with defensive injuries? VIDEO: https://t.co/nEl86y69Dg pic.twitter.com/Bvl71DYIhQ
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) March 16, 2017
On the other hand, the Flyers have lost their three games in regulation. Barring a late playoff run they could become the first team in NHL history to win ten games in a row but fail to make the playoffs. Their recent struggles on the power play is one reason why their playoff hopes have faded. Entering the contest against the Penguins, they were 2-for-26 on the power play in their last six games. In order to be considered a playoff caliber team, this is one area of their game that has to improve.
Travis Konecny had a career night against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday, recording his first career two goal game. This was overshadowed by him committing a roughing penalty late in the third period, and it led to the Blue Jackets scoring the game winning power play goal. Konecny spoke to reporters immediately following the game stating:
“Yeah, that’s kind of the only thing on my mind right now. I kind of let the game get to me and I was in the mix a lot tonight. And for whatever reason, I decided to bump the guy on my way back to the bench and they thought it was a penalty. It’s a stupid penalty by me and honestly I put the game in my hands there, it’s unacceptable. Like I said, no excuses why I took the penalty, I have to own up to it now. Just high on emotion going into the third period. I just felt like I should bump the guy on the way and it cost us the game.”
Konecny’s words must have been echoed in the Flyers locker room, as they must have wanted to make up for his costly mistake against the Blue Jackets on Monday night. The Flyers were flat-out dominate against the Penguins beating them 4-0, thus saving their playoff lives. Steve Mason once again got the start in net, and he made 22 big saves preserving the Flyers victory. This was not just any victory, it was a morale victory for the Flyers as a whole.
The Flyers came out of the gate energized and motivated. This lead to the Penguins first penalty of the night. Sidney Crosby was called for interference at 13:21 in the opening period. The struggling Flyers power play could not find the back of the net again. They managed three shots on net, but Murray made all three saves keeping the game scoreless.
With the Flyers struggling to maintain possession late in the first period, Justin Schultz was called for a tripping penalty with 6:33 remaining. It appeared to give the Flyers life. On the ensuing power play, the Flyers managed two shots on net, but Murray made both saves keeping the game scoreless.
Brayden Schenn took the Flyers first penalty of the night late in the first period. The Flyers penalty killers did a phenomenal job, as they did not allow a single shot on net. The game of course remained scoreless.
The first period came to a close with the both teams still searching for their first goals of the night. Despite being outplayed midway through the first period, the Flyers seemed to finally find their skating legs. They won the faceoff margin 68%-32%, but the Penguins out shot the Flyers 8-7.
With the Flyers playoff hopes on life support going into the second period, the feel good Flyers perseverance never seemed to fade. They dominated the first minute of play, and it led to their first goal. Murray made a nice early pad save off Schenn. Sean Couturier found the rebound and slammed home his 11th goal of the year giving the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
Early in the second period, the Flyers were clicking on all cylinders. However, Pierre Bellemare was called for a tripping penalty. On the ensuing power play, the Penguins yet again could not manage a shot on net. The score remained 1-0 Flyers.
Ian Cole took the first penalty of the second period for the Penguins, with 14:01 remaining. On the ensuing power play, within 17 seconds Shayne Gostisbehere unloaded a slap shot on net from the top of the point. Murray made the left pad save, but Wayne Simmonds slammed home the rebound giving the Flyers a 2-0 lead. It was the “Wayne Train” 29th goal of they year, and the 200th of his career.
The Flyers man handled the Penguins with their dominate play in the second period, and it ended with them leading 2-0. They fired 13 shots on net for the period. The Penguins lost the faceoff margin 63%-37%, while firing 9 shots on net for the period.
A new period allowed the Penguins to regain their skating legs. They were out shooting the Flyers 2-0, through the first three minutes of the third period.
Chris Kunitz was called for a hooking penalty midway through the third period. The Flyers registered 2 shots on goal, but Murray made both saves keeping the score 2-0 Flyers. This left the Flyers 1-for-4 on the power play for the night.
With the game appearing to end with a Flyers 2-0 win, Pierre Bellemare gathered the puck along the left side of the Penguins net. He made a nice pass to Claude Giroux in the slot, and Giroux one timed the puck past Murray for a 3-0 Flyers lead. It was Bellemare’s first assist in 53 games.
Moments later Brayden Schenn took a slap shot from the left circle. The original shot hit the post, but he found the rebound and took another shot at the net. The puck took a weird deflection off Dale Weise’s stick, past Murray for a 4-0 Flyers lead.
What an effort by the Flyers, as the game ended in their favor 4-0. The Flyers outshot the Penguins 28-23, and they won the faceoff margin 65%-35%.
Steve Mason was superb in net, earning his team a much needed two points for the playoff chase. It was Mason’s third shut out of the season. The Flyers will have to continue to get good goaltending, and their role players will have to continue to have success in order to make the playoffs. They now remain five points back in the wild card standings. Follow me on Twitter @JameyBaskow for all Flyers updates.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports