The Flyers have followed up a six-game winning streak from Feb. 16 through Feb. 26 by losing four straight after a convincing 5-2 loss at the hands of the Penguins on Wednesday night.
After taking a 2-1 at the six-minute mark of the second period, the Flyers saw the Penguins score four unanswered goals to take the game and vault into first place in the Metropolitan Division in the process. Conor Sheary, who was scoreless in 15 straight games coming in, scored two second-period goals to pace the visitors.
Jake Voracek and Travis Konecny scored goals for the Flyers, who head to Boston to face the red-hot Bruins tomorrow night.
The Flyers tried to jump out to a quick start, with Claude Giroux setting up Travis Konecny on the doorstep, but the puck hopped his stick before he could register a shot.
Then it was Scott Laughton roaring down the right wing, this time firing a shot on that was turned aside by Tristan Jarry as a quick two-on-one developed for the Flyers.
After a few quick chances early for the Flyers, Jori Lehtera killed momentum with an offensive zone penalty for holding. That put the NHL’s top-ranked power play to work at the 4:14 mark with a chance to strike first. The Flyers’ penalty kill survived the first Pittsburgh power play, holding the Penguins to just one lone shot.
A crushing hit by Robert Hagg on Bryan Rust would be deemed boarding at the 8:28 mark and would send the Penguins right back on the man-advantage. But a good effort by Lehtera on the ensuing penalty kill forced Phil Kessel into a tripping penalty of his own to even things out at 4-on-4 before sending the Flyers to a truncated power play for 1:09.
A third Flyers penalty in the first, this one to Andrew Macdonald for interference, would give the Penguins yet another power play. Much like the previous Penguins power play, a good effort by a Flyers penalty killer would draw a penalty and end the man-advantage early. This time Michael Raffl taking a high-stick with 28 seconds left in the MacDonald penalty.
The fourth time would be the charm for the Penguins’ power play as Evgeni Malkin setup Phil Kesel on a perfectly executed backdoor play to take a 1-0 lead with 1:25 left in the period. Rookie Oskar Lindblom’s high-sticking penalty in the offensive zone proved to be a costly one in what was a very undisciplined period for the Flyers.
Shayne Gostisbehere nearly tied things up 20 seconds into the second, but his hard slap shot rang off the post behind Jarry. At the other end it was Phil Kessel bidding for a second of the night, but he too found iron behind Petr Mrazek.
It wouldn’t take long for the Flyers to find an equalizer after Gostisbehere’s near miss, though. Jake Voracek would tie things up with his 15th of the season at the 2:07 mark, sending a centering pass off a Penguin stick and past Jarry. Strong forechecking from Nolan Patrick kept the play alive and picked up the lone assist on the Voracek goal.
Nolan Patrick ties the game at one pic.twitter.com/SFYrO7bCD2— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) March 8, 2018
The Flyers had all the momentum to start the second and started peppering the Penguins’ net. After a couple saves by Jarry on Gostisbehere and Giroux, the Flyers would again break through.
Less than four minutes after Voracek’s tying goal, Travis Konecny jammed home a loose puck that the Penguins netminder couldn’t corral to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead at the 6:01 mark.
Travis Konecny just scored a goal using black magic, or something like that. pic.twitter.com/ZtcRWz1cev— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) March 8, 2018
Pittsburgh would respond 3:25 later with a rather ugly goal of their own to tie things back up at 2-2. Jamie Oleksiak’s point blast navigated a mess of traffic in front and found its way past Mrazek to knot things back up.
The Flyers’ fourth line put in a strong effort following the Oleksiak goal, hemming the Penguins in their own zone and forcing Riley Sheahan to interfere with Scott Laughton late into his shift to give the Flyers their first full power play of the game with 8:30 left in the second.
After a failed power play that generated less than nothing, the Penguins would take advantage of the Flyers in transition. Sidney Crosby led a two-on-one in on Andrew MacDonald and Petr Mrazek, and it went just about how you thought it would. Crosby’s shot glanced off the pad of Mrazek and left a rebound for Sheary to make it 3-2 Penguins with 5:35 left in the frame.
Pittsburgh would extend their lead to 4-2 with just 39 seconds left in the period, getting a crushing goal from Sheary as a bad bounce off Brandon Manning’s leg setup the forward’s second of the game. The Crosby line was dominant in the second period as the Penguins’ captain picked up two assists to reach 1,100 career points. Though it feels like all of those are against the Flyers, we can confirm they are indeed not.
After dominating the first half of the second period, the wheels fell off for the Flyers in the last 10 minutes. Another pair of failed power plays, these two both for the full two minutes, also hurt the Flyers as their power play has now gone scoreless in 16 of their last 17 chances.
The Flyers would have their work cut out for themselves trailing by two goals headed to the third where the Penguins are 20-0-1 when leading after two periods this season.
A two-on-one for the Flyers nearly cut into the two-goal deficit, but Tristan Jarry came up with a nice stop on Scott Laughton to end an early threat. Shayne Gostisbehere jumped up on the play to start the rush as the Flyers defense activated in search of more offense.
The Flyers’ top trio of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny started to buzz midway through the period, producing back-to-back strong shifts that resulted in a tripping penalty to Evgeni Malkin.
Already 0-for-4 on the man-advantage, the Flyers’ power play took the ice with 8:57 left in regulation with a chance to pull within a goal.
But much like the previous four, the Flyers were thwarted rather easily by the Penguins’ penalty kill, which came into action ranking 13th in the league at 81.7%.
Evgeni Malkin would add an empty netter to put a bow on a 5-2 win for the Penguins, their third in three matchups against the Flyers so far this season.