The Philadelphia Flyers had one of their best wins of the season on Thursday night in Pittsburgh. After falling into a 3-0 hole, they climbed all the way back with four unanswered goals to beat the Penguins.
Claude Giroux scored two goals and added an assist to lead the way for the Flyers.
The Flyers did a lot of good things to create their goals, but there were also quite a few bad things they did to allow Pittsburgh such a big lead early on.
I re-watched all seven goals in the 4-3 win to break down what went wrong and right.
Things started out rather poorly.
Sanheim’s whiff – 1-0 Penguins
The Penguins got an early 1-0 lead on a seemingly innocent shot.
Let’s first watch the broadcast of the goal before breaking it down a bit more.
The Penguins sent the puck into the Flyers’ zone toward Philippe Myers. Unfortunately, Myers was closed in on by two Penguins and Pittsburgh took control.
The Flyers outnumbered the Penguins, but they were able to get the puck back to Kris Letang at the point. Travis Sanheim was in front of the net, so it didn’t appear to be all that dangerous, but the defenseman tried to block the shot with his hand. Sanheim missed on that, but got just enough of it to change its direction and Elliott couldn’t do anything about it.
Evgeni Malkin may have distracted Elliott with his netfront drive-by, but it’s a shot that Sanheim has to either make sure he blocks or lets Elliott take charge on. That is Elliott’s job, afterall.
You’d also like to see Myers make a better effort with the puck along the wall. Unfortunately, Myers’ early-game struggles didn’t stop there.
Myers’ poor pinch – 2-0 Penguins
Myers made a poor pinch on the following shift and Mark Friedman made the Flyers pay just 34 seconds after the first goal.
The Flyers dumped the puck in deep after a center-ice faceoff followed an accidental icing call. However, Tristan Jarry got to it and rimmed it around the boards.
Myers aggressively pinched up to try to keep the play alive, but that only allowed the Penguins to have an odd-man rush the other way. Sidney Crosby led the way and got a shot on net. Elliott stopped it and Giroux batted the puck out of the crease, but right into the slot where Friedman was crashing and the former Flyer slid it through Elliott.
It’s a save that you’d like to see Elliott make, but the Flyers didn’t give him much support.
It got worse before it got better.
Another odd-man rush – 3-0 Penguins
The Flyers waited an extra three seconds before allowing their next goal this time. Jared McCann capitalized on an odd-man rush 37 seconds after Friedman’s goal.
Once again, it started with a failed dump-in. Jarry got to this one as well but set it up for his defenseman instead of sending it up the boards. Couturier and Voracek pressured Letang and actually had control for a second or two. However, Voracek tried to get the puck to Couturier along the wall, where the centerman turned it over. Evgeni Malkin led an odd-man rush up ice.
There is a moment in this sequence that should be pointed out. The third forward in on the forecheck, James van Riemsdyk, did what he should do with the puck in deep. He was cycling up high in the zone and ready to cover a potential breakout. Once it looked like Voracek had control, JVR went to the other side of the net. McCann, the eventual goal scorer, was alone in the slot.
If Voracek had gotten the puck to JVR, perhaps it starts something for the Flyers. Instead, the Flyers are left to defend an odd-man rush with three forwards in deep. A simple pass was the difference between a potential scoring chance for and a goal against.
That’s not to say that Voracek should be blamed for his decision. He got the puck to Couturier, who was unable to keep control. It’s just little things like that can add up and are easy to point out in hindsight.
It led to an odd-man rush the other way and a perfect passing play put the Penguins up 3-0.
There’s not much Elliott could do on this one.
It was a curious decision by Hagg before the goal to leave the left side of the ice wide open. Gostisbehere was on the right side toward the center of the ice and Hagg moved over to his back pocket.
If Hagg stayed more towards the left side of the ice, perhaps he is able to take away the passing lane.
Luckily, that was the last Penguins goal of the game.
Couturier gets one back – 3-1 Flyers
It was imperative for the Flyers to score before the end of the first period if they wanted a chance of coming back. Sean Couturier, per usual, had the answer.
Couturier blasted a slap shot past Jarry on the power play to get the Flyers on the board. It seems like such a simple play – move the puck around to the open man to wind up and blast – but there was much more to it.
The power-play unit had a few great chances just prior to the goal. It all started with a good keep by Shayne Gostisbehere.
Tanev thought he had cleared the zone, but Gostisbehere did what he does best and calmly kept the play alive.
It wasn’t just Gostisbehere’s subtle keep that led to the goal. Drawing the penalty to even get a power play was important as well.
It was the Flyers’ new old second line of Scott Laughton, Kevin Hayes, and Travis Konecny that drew the penalty.
Laughton kept the puck in the zone and forced an interference penalty as he crashed the net. The Flyers also nearly didn’t need the power play as Konecny’s shot hit off iron.
It was important for the Flyers to keep pushing and keep their legs moving after going down 3-0. Laughton did just that and it paid off.
Giroux continues the comeback – 3-2 Penguins
The Flyers were pushing hard for a goal in the second period, and it finally paid off with the new third line.
It all started about 30 seconds prior to the goal actually being scored. Justin Braun moved the puck up the wall and third line went to work. They won a few battles to keep the cycle going and got a few solid chances before Giroux finally jammed home the rebound off Lindblom’s great chance.
The play that actually set up the goal was pretty good as well.
Giroux one-handed the puck up the wall to Aube-Kubel, who found Lindblom all alone in front. Lindblom made a move and was denied, but Giroux, who went to the other side of the net after pushing the puck up the wall, buried the rebound.
Putting Giroux back at center on third line was an interesting move by Alain Vigneault, but it worked out in his favor as this was just the start for the captain.
Laughton lights the lamp – 3-3 tie
After a long, hard, first 15 minutes of the third period, the Flyers finally tied it.
They finally made Jarry pay for coming out to play the puck behind the net. Jarry had a hand in two of the Penguins’ goals, but his aggressiveness backfired in the third period.
Konecny got to the puck in the corner and made a terrific pass to Giroux in the high slot. His shot deflected off of Laughton, who went to the net, and past Jarry to tie the game.
The behind-the-net camera angle shows the sequence pretty well.
What a find by Konecny in the corner.
The Flyers did the little things right here: Konecny took a hit to make a play, Giroux got pucks on net, and Laughton got people (well, person) to the net.
It was tied and the Flyers weren’t done.
Claude completes the comeback – 4-3 Flyers
Of course, it was Claude Giroux to score the game-winning goal. He put the Flyers on his back in the latter stages of the game and was rewarded for it.
Aube-Kubel found the loose puck in the slot after Lindblom’s shot was blocked. He took it to his backhand and sent it to the tape of Giroux. Giroux’s stick was on the ice and that was all he needed.
We have to go back a little bit to fully appreciate the hard work and little things that led to this one. Much like Laughton drawing the penalty before Couturier’s power-play goal, van Riemsdyk helped set up Giroux’s game-winning goal.
The Flyers had all the momentum after tying the game and didn’t want to let it go. JVR took the puck from his own blue line all the way to the Penguins net with a power move.
That forced the offensive-zone faceoff that Giroux scored off of 16 seconds later.
Aube-Kubel lifted the stick of Matheson and placed a perfect backhand pass onto Giroux’s stick.
The game-winning goal was the perfect way to close out the victory.
The Flyers’ early mistakes put them in a 3-0 hole. However, rather than giving up and packing it in, they continued to work hard and do the little things right to draw penalties and create pressure. It all added up to one of their best wins of the entire season on Thursday night.