Goaltenders were busy, each making at least 35 saves. The Philadelphia Flyers (20-14-6) got onto the board when Owen Tippett scored a powerplay goal on Alex Nedeljkovic. Carter Hart allowed four goals by the Pittsburgh Penguins (20-15-4).
In addition to getting outshot, the Flyers were careless with the puck and spent much more time in the penalty box; an altogether undisciplined game:
“We just gave them too much time in our end zone, and I think we could have done a better job at eliminating plays earlier.”Owen Tippett; 1/8/2024
Philadelphia and Pittsburgh were in each other’s faces more and more as the game went along. The Penguins pulled away on the scoreboard, 4-1, but not without the action between the whistles that came with it.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
The Flyers were down a man five times in the first period. When Pittsburgh went on the powerplay, Rickard Rakell received a backhanded pass along the crease from Evgeni Malkin and got the puck past Hart. Philadelphia finished 5/6 on the penalty kill after trailing 1-0.
Later, Erik Karlsson scored an even-strength goal in the first period, 2-0.
Spending too much time on the penalty kill haunted the Flyers, keeping them on the defensive. However, they did go on the powerplay twice due to minor penalties to Jansen Harkins. Tippett scored the lone goal with the man advantage, taking a slick pass from Yegor Zamula, 2-1. Both teams combined for seven separate trips to the penalty box, five for Philadelphia.
Neither team went on the powerplay in the second period, but Chad Ruhwedel did extend the lead, 3-1. His first goal of the season stood as the lone score of the second period, deflecting off of a skate and redirecting past Hart.
Just because the second period lacked penalties doesn’t mean the Flyers and Penguins executed their business cleanly. Scott Laughton colliding with Sidney Crosby elicited a response from his teammates and the Pittsburgh bench.
A chippy game only heated the attitude. Garnet Hathaway and Kris Letang took each other down near the crease, falling into Nedeljkovic. At this moment, it seemed as if the Philadelphia penalty box could overflow.
Down, 3-1, the Flyers were down, but not out. That changed when Malkin sniped the puck past Hart after Drew O’Connor won a board battle. Malkin accepted the puck and uncorked a wrist shot, putting Philadelphia on ice, 4-1.
During the first intermission, the biggest story of the night dropped. It had nothing to do with the in-state rivalry between the Flyers and Penguins.
Cutter Gauthier was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for Jamie Drysdale and a 2025 second-round selection. Gauthier was the top forward at the 2024 World Juniors Championship tournament. Not only was Philadelphia high on the forward, but he put the rest of the NHL on notice, too.
When it was apparent Gauthier wouldn’t sign with the Flyers, Daniel Briere sold their coveted prospect for a high value, returning an additional 2025 second-round pick and Drysdale, a right-handed defenseman with top-pair potential. Briere spoke about the trade:
“He [Gauthier] looked at us at the draft and told us that he was built to be a Flyer. Wanted to be a Flyer. A few months later, he told us that he didn’t want to be a Flyer.”Daniel Briere; 1/8/2024
Drysdale, 21, was the sixth overall pick at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. He missed much of last season due to a shoulder injury. Philadelphia Drysdale will break into the top pair.
“We were very pleased in the return that we got. A player that we coveted, and we’re searching for in Jamie Drysdale, a right-handed, shooting defenseman that was a former sixth overall pick. He’s got skill, and we’re looking forward to seeing him get into our lineup. It’ll be an emotional time in Anaheim for him. He’s an extremely popular player and a great person, so can’t wait to meet him.”Keith Jones; 1/8/2024
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers host the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow at 7pm.
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)