The Philadelphia Flyers couldn’t separate themselves from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Mass Mutual Eastern Division standings, losing 4-3.
On Thursday, the Philadelphia Flyers missed Joel Farabee in the lineup against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who welcomed back Sidney Crosby. Today, Farabee was back to help the Flyers win this three-game series versus the Penguins. Both teams are treating this series as if it has playoff implications. There is truth to that. Currently, Pittsburgh is trailing Philadelphia for the final playoff spot in the Mass Mutual Eastern Division.
Fortune could be on the foot of the Penguins. Had they held onto their lead on Thursday, the Flyers would be on the outside-looking-in of a playoff spot. Featuring help from Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Claude Giroux, they rallied to win 4-3 in regulation. Philadelphia has to do it one more time. Could they distance themselves from Pittsburgh and win the series?
Farabee returns to the lineup, but Philippe Myers missed today’s game. On Thursday, Anthony Angello delivered a late hit to Myers. Plays like that set the tone of this series. As the games play out, the bodychecks become more frequent. Physical hockey has turned into high-tension, which isn’t surprising between the in-state rivals.
The Flyers took the early lead when Scott Laughton made a critical defensive play. Forcing a steal, Laughton and Travis Konecny sprung a breakaway. Laughton and Konecny had all the time in the world to pass between them, shaking Tristan Jarry out of position. Konecny pulled the trigger, sniping the puck into the net. Philadelphia enjoyed early success, but the Penguins answered.
Undisciplined hockey hurt the Flyers in the first period, blowing the lead after committing two penalties. First, Evgeni Malkin scored a wrap-around goal when Travis Sanheim collided with Brian Elliott. Soon after, Pittsburgh struck again with the man-advantage. Bryan Rust gave the Penguins the lead, 2-1.
Philadelphia held their own during even-strength scenarios. They were arguably better than Pittsburgh. All season long, however, the Flyers have struggled with on-ice discipline. It is not a coincidence the Penguins found their stroke on the man-advantage.
Beginning the second period on the powerplay, Philadelphia needed to match Pittsburgh’s success. Kevin Hayes helped with a gorgeous short-side, powerplay goal. The equalizing goal gave the Flyers new life in a new period. Following a powerplay goal from Hayes, Philadelphia killed their first penalty of the game. New confidence was evident throughout Alain Vigneault’s lineup.
Marcus Pettersson was a liability for the Penguins in the second period. He held more than most NFL offensive linemen. While the Flyers scored on one powerplay chance, Petersson’s play killed momentum for Pittsburgh. Shayne Gostisbehere helped Philadelphia to another lead, drilling the puck past Jarry from the blue line.
Before the end of the second period, Zach Aston-Reese scored a soft goal on Elliott to tie the game, 3-3. In many cases, this seeing-eye goal hurt the Flyers the most. As soon as this goal counted, Philadelphia fans had flashbacks of Patrick Kane scoring on Michael Leighton. There was no chance the puck should have snuck under Elliott’s pad, but it did.
Brandon Tanev and Jared McCann have played well against the Flyers all season. They rewarded Jarry in the third period.
Jarry recovered in the third period. He was busy early on, taking a bevy of shots from Hayes and Nolan Patrick. To his credit, he blocked them all. Elliott matched his effort but couldn’t remain perfect.
In the only scoring play during the third period, Tanev pressed in deep with the puck. His shot from in close caused a rebound. McCann cleaned up the rebound, beating Elliott with the game-winning goal. The Penguins defeated the Flyers, 4-3.
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers visit the Washington Capitals on Sunday. The puck drop is scheduled for 7pm. All of the action will be televised on NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre