The Flyers started the all-important game three trading high quality chances with the Penguins. Brian Elliott stopped a point blank chance from Justin Schultz, and then Matt Murray made a fantastic stop on Nolan Patrick who had burned the Pens defense for a partial breakaway. Then Travis Konecny laid a big hit and after receiving a puck to the face, the physicality of this series began to appear.
Moments later, Jori Lehtera created a fantastic scoring chance darting up the middle and finding a streaking Travis Sanheim who was stopped by the right pad of Murray.
Early on it was the Flyers who were driving play, crisp passes and aggressive forechecking that was giving the Penguins lackluster defense fits. They also did a fantastic job early on of not allowing the Penguins much time to establish themselves in the offensive zone. For a team as highly skilled as Pittsburgh is, this is exactly the game the Flyers needed to play early on.
What was especially nice to see early on was the fact each line was contributing, the Flyers depth was putting on a freakin’ clinic early on in this one. Andrew MacDonald continued his strong play from game two making the solid play along the boards to get the puck to Lehtera on the Sanheim chance.
The Pens would strike first however, as a Michael Raffl pass took a weird bounce that ended up on the tape of Crosby who beat Elliott who was way out of position, 1-0 Penguins.
Travis Konecny would draw a penalty just moments later however, as in an attempt to spin away from Bryan Rust, the Pens forward tripped him sending the Flyers to a huge power play early on in this one. After their success in game two, this was most likely the last thing the Pens wanted to give the Flyers.
The Flyers were unable to convert however, as the Pens aggressive penalty kill gave the Flyers all sorts of problems. There just seemed to be a bit too much reliance on dumping the puck in on that power play sequence. Brandon Manning would then proceed to display his “veteran leadership” by tripping Patric Hornqvist sending Pittsburgh to the power play, not ideal folks!
The penalty kill got off to a hot start, as Elliott made a solid stop on Phil Kessel and then Sean Couturier out muscled Crosby to get the puck out of the zone. The Flyers killed off the first power play for Pittsburgh in a dominating fashion.
After a fantastic chance from Valtteri Filppula and Travis Konecny the Flyers drew another penalty sending them back to the man advantage. Despite looking much better on this power play, the Flyers were still unable to get one by Murray as the first period ended with 17 seconds left of power play time.
1st period Heatmap/Gameflow
Hm...do we need to talk about the second period?
Derick Brassard scored an early power play goal on a pass off a rebound from Phil Kessel. This was the absolute last thing the Flyers wanted to have happen to start the second. The Pens got on the power play via a slash by Claude Giroux on Crosby, because you know...of course that’s how it happened.
Evgeni Malkin just minutes later would rifle a signature one timer, yet again on the power play, and just like that the Pens lead 3-0 in a game where the Flyers dominated them in the first period. If there was ever a game that epitomized the Flyers season, this would be the one. Okay, maybe they can just settle down and start a come back and...well that was a nice thought while it lasted.
Brian Dumoulin would join the rush off the following faceoff and snipe one by Elliott, 4-0 Penguins and life...well that’s pretty bad! In the most important period of the Flyers season to date, they were unable to step up against the defending champions.
There was a bright spot however, Travis Sanheim fired a point shot that found its way through and the rookie recorded his first Stanley Cup Playoffs goal. For all the nonsense Sanheim has had to endure this season, you gotta feel good for the rookie defenseman.
TRAVIS SANHEIM'S FIRST CAREER PLAYOFF GOAL! pic.twitter.com/1Csc0YObzj— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) April 15, 2018
Brassard would trip Provorov late in the second giving the Flyers a late shot in the period to get back in it. They were unable to convert however by the end of the period, leaving the orange and black 20 minutes to rally from three goals down.
2nd period Heatmap/Gameflow
The third and final period would start out fairly slow with both teams not generating much offense, then Scott Laughton took a high sticking penalty sending the Pens back to the power play. This whole giving the Pens at least four power plays a game strategy seems kinda dumb, probably shouldn’t do it!!
The Flyers would kill it off but then Jakub Voracek took another high sticking penalty and at this point it’s almost like why are we even still bothering with this game? Justin Schultz drove that point home for me by scoring on the power play through a heavy screen in front of Elliott. It’s 5-1 Pens and life is pretty gosh darn bad!
The rest of this game was well...irrelevant. Both teams had some chances, the Flyers had a late power play that they did nothing with to continue the theme of the game, and the Penguins would win game three by a 5-1 margin and take a two games to one series lead. This game sucked, no doubt about it. But, next game will truly dictate if the Flyers have any chance of coming back in this series. Just a very disappointing game, go Flyers.