Penguins defeat Flyers in ‘Battle of Pennsylvania,’ 5-1

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Flyers' Kieffer Bellows
Philadelphia Flyers’ Kieffer Bellows (20) returns to the bench after scoring during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Saturday, March 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Today was the beginning of the Daniel Briere era in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Flyers visited the Pittsburgh Penguins at the PPG Paints Arena for the “Battle of Pennsylvania.” Unfortunately, the result wasn’t different from the first meeting in 2022-2023. The Flyers lost 5-1.

With the win, the Penguins take the first wildcard spot. Losers of three straight, Philadelphia could fall behind the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL standings, improving their chances in the ‘Bedard Sweepstakes.’

Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins

At the onset of the first period, the Philadelphia Flyers backed into their endzone. Marcus Pettersson shot from the blue line, and Richard Rakell deflected it just above Carter Hart for the lead; 1-0. 

Casey DeSmith made many great saves throughout the game, beginning with denying Morgan Frost. Kieffer Bellows did get one past DeSmith, entering the offensive zone and snapping a shot that snuck glove side to tie the game, 1-1.

Keeping up with the Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t last in the second period. The Flyers killed a penalty committed by Scott Laughton, but Tyson Foerster earned a double minor. Philadelphia paid on the penalty kill, surrendering a goal to Sidney Crosby on a one-timer while Owen Tippett was down on the ice; 2-1. Tippett would return to the bench after getting his repairs for blocking a shot. 

After surrendering the eventual game-winner to Crosby, the Flyers went 0/3 on the powerplay. Tippett nearly tied the game, but DeSmith made a desperation-style stick save. James van Riemsdyk and Foerster double-deflected a puck traveling to the net on another powerplay, but DeSmith remained true. 

Jason Zucker expanded the lead with just over five minutes remaining via a deflection; 3-1. Jake Guentzel scored an empty-net goal, but Hart was forced back into the crease, where Mikael Granlund added a goal on a two-on-one rush. The final tally favored the Penguins, 5-1, where Hart gave up four goals.

Scoring (-)

Opportunities were about even for each team through the first two periods. Rakell and Bellows matched in the first period, resulting in a 1-1 tie entering the first intermission. The Philadelphia Flyers led in scoring chances. DeSmith remained sturdy between the pipes, especially on a particular save early in the third period:

“Tip has a chance on the powerplay, [but] the goaltender makes a great save. [We] had some looks on the powerplay; part of our game that we need to look to improve on is getting more traffic and getting more sticks on pucks. They score a couple that way.”

John Tortorella; 3/11/2023

Scoring efforts are forecasted to be few and far between for the remainder of this season. Housing the worst powerplay in the NHL, changes are required this offseason. Hopefully, with the limited NHL ice time and a push with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms into the AHL postseason, these younger forwards will contribute more regularly in 2023-2024.

Playing Hard

Tortorella didn’t have any complaints about the effort of his lineup. The Philadelphia Flyers played hard, though the score didn’t reflect it after the final few minutes.

Zucker extended the lead with a deflection, and Tortorella pulled Hart for the extra man advantage. Then, the Pittsburgh Penguins collected a couple of garbage-time goals; Guentzel with the empty net and Granlund on the odd-man rush. 

“We played well. [In] the second period we put ourselves in a problem with penalties. A two-to-one game right to the end, it appears that they spanked us, but chances were about even, our structure was good, [we] had some chances. Just couldn’t find a way to score.”

John Tortorella; 3/11/2023

Penalties did the Flyers in. Killing off half of the double minor served to Foerster helped provide a boost, but the need to play a perfect game is too great. On the road, or at home, against playoff teams, Philadelphia doesn’t have room for error. Grit isn’t enough on its own.

Up Next

Next, the Philadelphia Flyers host the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, March 14th, 2023. The puck drops at 7pm.

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)