The Flyers looked to take two out of two early on from cross-state rival Pittsburgh on Saturday night. After an excellent win to kick off the season, Alain Vigneault put together an unchanged lineup for this contest.
The Penguins had the better run of play over the first few minutes of action in the first period, putting a few shots on Carter Hart and establishing zone time. Regardless, both teams took a while to truly get started, which is to be expected being so early in a strange season with a limited training camp.
When they did, though, Pittsburgh grew into the game first, leaving the Flyers without a single shot on goal through six minutes of play. They also hit, with Brandon Tanev leaving Ivan Provorov favoring his hip, and Sam Lafferty laying a high hit on Scott Laughton, causing a retaliation from Oskar Lindblom.
Oskar Lindblom stands up for his teammate after Lafferty hits Laughton pic.twitter.com/ImvOG1BELK— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) January 16, 2021
Shortly after in the chaos that emerged from the physicality, the Flyers would go on the power-play as Pittsburgh was called for too many men on the ice. This would become a brief 5-on-3 advantage for a few seconds as Claude Giroux was tripped, and in the ensuing power play after, Travis Konecny would find the back of the net on a cross ice feed from Jake Voracek. Konecny was near uncontested at Tristan Jarry’s far post, and he easily scored on an open net. It was the Flyers’ first shot on goal, and they made it count!
Travis Konecny opens the scoring! pic.twitter.com/1e1EaLNNne— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 16, 2021
Shortly after, Carter Hart made a fantastic stop on Evan Rodrigues as the Penguins had a two-on-one, and in transition, the Flyers’ doubled their lead. There was heavy traffic around Tristan Jarry’s crease as the Flyers’ launched a counterattack, and in the end, Travis Konecny would jam the puck home in the middle of the scramble to score his second goal of the game. Four shots total, and two goals ... not bad!
Konecny with his second of the night! pic.twitter.com/JUNN68vZfr— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 16, 2021
It would quickly then become 3-0 with only twelve minutes gone in the game. Ivan Provorov launched a laser of a wrist shot past Jarry on a feed from Voracek going low to high after another net-front scramble. This would also spell the end of Jarry’s evening, as Casey DeSmith would enter the game for Pittsburgh.
Ivan Provorov makes it 3-0! pic.twitter.com/xOUk4jisFC— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 16, 2021
Carter Hart would make another great save on a Pittsburgh chance after play would swing the other way, but Ivan Provorov would take a penalty to give Pittsburgh their first power play of the night. This proved to be costly, as Sidney Crosby scored an odd angle backhander on a broken play as the puck barely crossed the line behind Carter Hart. There wasn’t much that could’ve been done to defend against the goal, but Crosby has one of the best backhand shots in the league and it always needs to be respected as a threat.
A minute later, Brandon Tanev would drive the net, getting on the end of a Jared McCann rebound to put the Penguins within one. The momentum shifted fairly quickly to the Penguins after the two goals, with the only disruptor to this being a Kevin Hayes breakaway in which he was denied by Casey DeSmith.
The Penguins would see another power play with five minutes left in the period, but the Flyers were able to effectively kill it off. The period would end with another Penguins power play after Nic Aube-Kubel was called for cross-checking.
Through 20 minutes the Flyers trail in overall shots 14-9 and 5-on-5 shots 9-7.— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 16, 2021
At 5-on-5 the Flyers have a 45.83 Corsi-for percentage (11 shot attempts for, 13 against) and a 47.01 Expected Goals-for percentage. pic.twitter.com/i10i6tJsFn
Pittsburgh started out on the power play, but it was quickly discarded as Kris Letang was called for hooking to send the game to 4-on-4 action for around half a minute. On the ensuing Flyer power play, however, they were unable to convert.
Both clubs traded fast break chances after the special teams play finished, but both goaltenders stood up to tests with good saves. Perhaps either team should have scored in the first half of the second period, but Carter Hart continued to look sharp and Casey DeSmith was faring better for Pittsburgh than his counterpart Jarry.
Hart stones Zucker on the breakaway. pic.twitter.com/AFTx4qKYBT— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 16, 2021
Eventually, after a stretch of even strength play, the Flyers would go to the power play after Mike Matheson was called for tripping, but they were unable to score. After, the two teams continued to trade chances, with the Nolan Patrick line having a strong showing in particular.
With 6:35 left in the period, the Penguins would go to the power play as Scott Laughton was called for slashing. Due in part to strong penalty killing from Joel Farabee, the Flyers succesfully staved off the Penguins. Regardless, the power play ended early due to a rogue elbow (which was almost certainly targeted) from Jared McCann to Travis Sanheim.
In the end, there was nothing doing on the Flyer power play, and the game would calm down as the second period would end with no scoring.
Carter Hart managed to bail the Flyers out when they lagged behind defensively, as overall they did not look nearly as sharp as they did in the first period.
With one period to go the Flyers trail in overall shots 24-13 and 5-on-5 shots 16-9.— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 16, 2021
At 5-on-5 the Flyers have a 40 Corsi-for percentage (16 shot attempts, 24 against) and a 41.17 Expected Goals-for percentage. pic.twitter.com/B2Hyvi0h2H
The Flyers were one of the best third period teams in the NHL in 2019-20, and they looked to live up to that again tonight.
Early on, Carter Hart came up with big saves, fighting through traffic to preserve the Flyers’ one goal lead, and after, the minutes leading up to the halfway point of the period were uneventful.
Pittsburgh would go to the power play after Nic Aube-Kubel was called for interference on a big hit on Mike Matheson, but they would be denied as Carter Hart once again came through, making crucial saves. Aube-Kubel would end up drawing a penalty himself as he exited the box, much to the ire of the Pittsburgh bench.
Though the Flyers wouldn’t score on the power play, they would find themselves on a fast break near immediately after the man advantage expired. Claude Giroux fired a cross ice pass to Kevin Hayes, who fired the puck towards the direction of the goal, and in the end, it would deflect off Travis Konecny and into the net for Konecny’s first career NHL hat trick.
Travis Konecny completes the hat trick!!! pic.twitter.com/k3OJRFmUUk— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 16, 2021
Score a hat trick in a game without a crowd? Gritty's got you covered. pic.twitter.com/jcGAyCcv1Y— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 16, 2021
The period would wind down with some pressure thrown on the Flyers’ net, but ultimately, the Penguins were unable to beat Carter Hart. They would pull their goaltender with around two minutes remaining, but that would prove to bite back immediately, as Oskar Lindblom would score his second goal of the season, slotting the puck calmly into the empty net.
Two Big Answers
1. Will the depth continue to come through?
Today was all about the top end talent. Though the bottom six played well, the Flyers’ scoring came from the guys you’d expect tonight.
Regardless, the Flyers’ ability to match up from top to bottom of a lineup is an obvious strength that shows especially in the fact that they can bend and not break. Especially during the second period (exacerbated by the absence of Sean Couturier), the team objectively played poorly but they are still able to find ways to persevere.
2. Will the Farabee line dominate again?
Though it didn’t show up nearly as much on the scoresheet, the line looked solid tonight. The line didn’t dominate per say, but Giroux had a hard-working, blue collar game as he notched a couple of assists, Farabee was noticeable and battled well, and despite early defensive miscues, Kevin Hayes managed to recover and pitch in on the penalty kill as he always does, also notching an assist.
3. Jake Voracek - 2 A, Hartnell down impression
2. Carter Hart - 30 saves, typical larceny
1. Travis Konecny - 3 G, 1 A, mad chirps