The Philadelphia Flyers came out flat on Thursday night in Pittsburgh. And they never really picked it up. The team that got shut down in Calgary and struggled against the winless Coyotes couldn’t get anything going against a Penguins team feeling the effects of COVID.
The Flyers dug themselves into a 1-0 hole thanks to a missed assignment on the opening shift, giving the Penguins the lead just 16 seconds into the game. The Flyers would tie it –– twice –– before ultimately falling 3-2 in overtime to the Penguins.
Let’s get into all five goals from Thursday night, from Travis Konecny’s sweet hands to the Flyers’ defensive gaffes and everything in between.
1st - 00:16 - Brock McGinn (1-0 Penguins)
The first goal just 16 seconds into the game seemed like a bad bounce or just a Penguins player getting loose in front. But there was a reason why Brock McGinn was alone in front and why the Penguins got into the zone so easily.
Let’s take a look at the live broadcast angle first.
Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny pressure the defenseman, who passes it to the middle where Claude Giroux knocks it to the boards. Travis Sanheim pokes it up to Couturier, but the two can’t combine to get it deep. The Penguins do, however.
McGinn enters the zone down the wing and rims the puck around the boards to Mike Matheson. Konecny pressure the blueliner, forcing a quick shot. McGinn was left alone and deflected it home in front.
Sanheim and Couturier losing a board battle allowed the Penguins to enter the zone.
The replay from the far end of the ice shows how McGinn got so open in front.
Giroux was on McGinn and forced the pass around the boards, then marked Teddy Bleuger as he went behind the net. Rasmus Ristolainen had Bleuger up until that point and goes to the right side of the ice –– leaving no one on McGinn.
Konecny and Couturier were out towards each point. Giroux was shadowing Bleuger. The forwards were doing their jobs.
Sanheim got back into the play and stayed out a bit too high and Ristolainen marked no one in particular after McGinn dumped the puck around. They let McGinn sweep in behind them and deflect the shot past Hart.
The angle from behind the Flyers’ net gives a good look at that.
The Sanheim-Ristolainen pair has been downright awful so far this season and that didn’t change on Thursday night.
One shift, a few mistakes, 16 seconds, and the Flyers were down 1-0.
It stayed that way until the Flyers’ second power play of the game early in the second period.
2nd - 7:37 - Travis Konecny (1-1 tie)
The new top unit of Ivan Provorov, Cam Atkinson, Konecny, Giroux, and Couturier went to work. Giroux passed it down to Konecny, who tried to get it through the middle to Provorov. The pass was deflected, but Provorov collected the loose puck up high. He fed Giroux again, who faked a slap shot to freeze the Penguins’ PKers and fed Konecny once again. This time he made a beautiful move to score top shelf on Tristan Jarry.
It was a goal that Wayne Simmonds would be proud of. Konecny roofed it to tie the game.
Let’s admire that goal and celebration before moving on.
Alright, it went mostly downhill from there. Even if the Flyers did earn a point.
2nd - 11:46 - Jake Guentzel (2-1 Penguins)
Just over four minutes after Konecny tied it, the Penguins retook the lead.
Cam Atkinson barely missed an outlet pass from Justin Braun and turned it over at center ice. For some reason, he turned up ice rather than backchecking. That opened up the passing lane even wider and gave the Penguins a two-on-two rush that could’ve been slowed down. At the very least, it wouldn’t be as easy for them.
Instead, Jake Guentzel picked up the pass and made a move. He whiffed on his first shot as Jeff Carter was crashing the net. Carter stayed in front of the net, however, and Guentzel’s second attempt slid through Carter Hart to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead.
Atkinson’s maneuver at center ice sure was interesting. The other issue here is Braun and Provorov converging on the shooter and both trying to block the shot. Give credit to Guentzel and Carter for their crisscross play, but once Braun skated past Guentzel he should’ve followed Carter to the net.
Braun has done an admirable job filling in for Ryan Ellis on the top pair. But this play wasn’t one of his best.
On a side note, if Provorov and Braun were both going to try to block the shot, one of them should’ve went all-out in doing so; at least drop to a knee.
That goal looked like it would be the difference-maker until late in the third period. The Flyers weren’t generating a ton of chances, and the ones they were they couldn’t convert.
That all changed thanks to a gaffe by Mike Matheson.
3rd - 17:08 - Scott Laughton - (2-2 tie)
The defenseman whiffed on a pass behind the net and James van Riemsdyk alertly jumped onto the loose puck. Oskar Lindblom and Scott Laughton were both in good position in the slot and JVR’s pass was deflected to the center, who buried it to tie the game.
This line was buzzing all night long with Lindblom, in particular, having a few strong chances. JVR tried to feed him in the low slot, but Carter got a piece of it and Laughton was there to slap it home.
Even if Matheson’s pass connected, there was good pressure in the zone late in the game. All three forwards were in good position on the forecheck and they took advantage of the Penguins’ mistake.
That tied the game with 2:52 left in the third period. And it ultimately earned the Flyers the loser point.
OT - 1:54 - Kris Letang - (3-2 Penguins)
Carter Hart was spectacular all night long, but he had another misadventure with the post. It appeared that he got across to stop Letang’s wraparound, but the puck crossed the goal line.
Hart’s pad was in the net –– and so was the puck.
Joel Farabee blocked Letang’s initial shot, but neither the forward nor Ristolainen stuck with the Penguins blueliner on the rebound.
The Flyers got a point that they maybe didn’t deserve in Pittsburgh on Thursday night. Defensive miscues cost both teams in crucial parts of the game in the first Battle of Pennsylvania of the season. Ultimately, the Penguins came away victorious in overtime in a game that the Flyers needed to play better in.
The Orange and Black finish out their quick two-game road trip on Saturday night in Washington. They’ll look for a better effort and hopefully two points against the Capitals.