The Flyers started a key, three-game road swing with a valiant effort, but couldn’t finish the deal as the Penguins skated away with a 5-4 overtime decision in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon.
Sean Couturier’s goal with 42 seconds left not only tied the game at 4-4, but secured the Flyers an all-important point in the process before Bryan Rust’s overtime winner. With back-to-back games coming against Dallas and Colorado on Tuesday and Wednesday, points are at a premium for Dave Hakstol’s club.
Matt Murray turned aside 41 Flyers shots as the Penguins took a key divisional matchup in this one, aided by a goal and an assist from Sidney Crosby, who put Rust’s game-winner right on his tape in front of Petr Mrazek at the 2:25 mark of the overtime.
Mrazek came in early in the second period for Alex Lyon, who allowed three goals on 11 shots. Lyon wasn’t much the problem as the Penguins turned a 2-1 first intermission deficit into a 3-2 lead just 2:37 into the second period as was Flyers coach Dave Hakstol trying to slow the momentum of the game.
Jordan Weal figured in three of the Flyers’ four goals, with a goal and two helpers for his first career three-point game in the NHL. Brandon Manning, Travis Sanheim and Couturier added the other goals for the Flyers, who pull into a tie for third in the Metro with the Blue Jackets with the overtime loss. Both those two are back in action on Tuesday with the Flyers in Dallas and the Blue Jackets at Edmonton.
A big save for Alex Lyon on Patric Hornqvist early on a deflection less than a minute in started things off, as the Flyers’ rookie netminder was tested early.
The Flyers would strike first, however, with Travis Sanheim beating Matt Murray with a wrist shot at the 5:03 mark to take the 1-0 lead. Sanheim made a great read trailing on the play and Jordan Weal pulled up and found him wide open to beat Murray to the glove side. It’s his second of the season, with Weal and Wayne Simmonds picking up the assists.
An absolute laser courtesy of @sanheim17. #PHIvsPIT pic.twitter.com/OBjWLBnfe7— NHL (@NHL) March 25, 2018
With two huge points at stake, getting the first goal on the road was a great start for the Flyers.
Pittsburgh would get it back at the 9:38 mark with Derick Brassard beating Lyon on a breakaway to the blocker side to tie things up at 1-1. Conor Sheary split the Flyers’ defense with a lofted aerial pass and Brassard skated past the defense and under it.
Brandon Manning would make it two for the Flyers’ defense as he gave his club the lead back at 2-1 less than two minutes after Brassard’s equalizer. Manning was active early but fired one hight and wide of Murray, this one found the back of the net for his seventh of the season. Weal picked up another assist on the goal, Valtteri Filppula picked up the other.
With 5:00 left in the first, Lyon robbed Jake Guentzel with a pad save on the doorstep and then Brian Dumoulin went off for hooking at the other end as Flyers work another odd-man rush on the Pittsburgh defense.
The Flyers would squander the first power play of the game, managing two shots towards Murray with the best of which coming on a high-rising wrist shot from Nolan Patrick.
On the ensuing rush Sean Couturier would go off for hooking Bryan Rust, sending the Penguins’ top-ranked power play to the ice. The Flyers would withstand their first penally kill of the day, though they would head right back shorthanded as Jake Voracek picked up a cross-checking call with 11.9 seconds left in the frame.
With carryover time left on their second power play, the Penguins wouldn’t waste much time cashing in to start the second period. Patric Hornqvist beat Lyon 37 seconds into the second to tie things up at 2-2 with his 24th of the season. Phil Kessel and Justin Schultz picked up assists on the goal to hit the reset button on this one.
With another delayed call on the Flyers looming, Evgeni Malkin would give the Penguins the 3-2 lead two minutes after Hornqvist’s equalizer as a shooting gallery developed in front of Lyon. Malkin used Andrew MacDonald as a screen to nullify the delayed call and chase Alex Lyon from the Flyers’ net.
Lyon wasn’t at fault, but coach Hakstol was not pleased with the effort in front and could be looking ahead to a back-to-back scenario in Dallas and Colorado coming up early this week.
Mrazek would be tested early, coming up with a real good save on Kessel right off the bench to keep the Flyers within one. He was tasked with giving the Flyers some energy after watching Pittsburgh grab the momentum after the intermission, per Hakstol during the bench interview with Pierre McGuire.
With 5:25 left in the frame Mrazek came up with another strong save, stopping Rust with his pad behind a mess of bodies in front. At the other end Travis Konecny nearly tied things up on an odd-man rush, but Pittsburgh’s Chad Ruhwedel was able to get to the Sean Couturier pass before it reached Konecny’s stick and a waning empty net.
A Brassard high-stick would put the Flyers on the man-advantage with 4:20 left in the second. The Flyers failed on their first power play chance in the first, but this one would prove successful, with Jordan Weal firing home a rebound with 2:50 left in the period to tie things up at 3-3 in the see-saw affair. It was Weal’s third point of the day with Shayne Gostsibehere picking up the lone assist.
Congrats to Jordan Weal on his 1st 3-point game #PITvsPHI pic.twitter.com/hHYspqXF3b— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) March 25, 2018
Dumoulin would put the Flyers right back on the power play with a heavy cross-check to the back of Travis Konecny following the tying goal. Despite a mountain of zone time, the Penguins would kill off this one with less than a minute remaining in the period.
Through two period we got no further than where we started, with both teams even despite six goals.
Just 17 seconds into the third Sidney Crosby would break the tie, getting away from Sean Couturier and beating Mrazek to the glove side to give the Penguins back the lead at 4-3.
Oskar Lindblom had a great chance to tie things back up, but Murray got a pad on his shot at the 4:27 mark. It was a quick developing rush from Voracek and Nolan Patrick, but Murray had an answer for the Penguins.
That line would be at it again this time Nolan Patrick with a chance just under the seven-minute mark, but the rookie attempted to spin to his backhand and was decked in front of Murray in the process.
With 8:11 left Crosby nearly setup a dagger for the Penguins, but Mrazek was able to get a piece of a Guentzel shot from right on the doorstep. Mrazek was beat cleanly by Crosby to start the period, but was largely very solid in relief of Alex Lyon.
In a free-flowing period, chances would be at a premium as both clubs avoided turnovers and miscues to stay out of a big mistake that would end up in the back of the net. While things were quite a bit back and forth, there weren’t a ton of Grade A scoring chances either way.
Just over two minutes left the Flyers were desperate to get Mrazek out of the net for the extra attacker, but had issues gaining the Penguins zone. Wayne Simmonds watched as a Flyers’ chance hit off the post behind Murray only to stay out and get covered.
With 1:34 left they would finally grab the offensive zone draw they craved, and would get a last gasp at finding a tying goal. And with 42 seconds left they would get just that, with Sean Couturier ramming home a rebound in front to tie things back up at 4-4. It’s No. 31 for the man, and a hugely important one in the Flyers’ season and playoff push. Gostisbehere had the initial sho, which Murray couldn’t corral, and Couturier was alone for the rebound.
The final 42 seconds would go off without a hitch as the Flyers and Penguins both earned a point and 3-on-3 overtime needed to settle this one.
After a 1:16 shift to stay the overtime, Konecny, Provorov and Couturier were finally able to change after a strong push from the Penguins to start things off. It would be nearly two minutes before the Flyers would gain possession in the extra session and a failed shot attempt from Jake Voracek.
Pittsburgh’s puck domination in the overtime would be key, with Bryan Rust finishing off the Flyers with a deflection of a Crosby pass in front to give the Penguins the 5-4 win and a season sweep of the Flyers.