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Flyers 4, Penguins 1: The Flyers’ kids stick it to the Penguins in their final matchup of the season

Goals from Cates, Frost propel Philly to a home win for the first time in over a month

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins at home today, snapping a five-game home losing streak and giving them their first back-to-back wins since March 5 and 8. Our heads had told us to root for the Penguins today—after all, the Flyers have nothing to gain by winning games at this point in the season. But our hearts could never actually prevent us from cheering on a Penguins loss as it is happening. We’ll have to see how this game ultimately affects the Flyers’ final draft position, but until then we can only enjoy Crosby and Malkin losing a game to what has been a very poor Philadelphia team so far this season.

This game never really got as chippy or as weird as many of these battle of Pennsylvania games tend to go—there were only five penalties called all game and all of them were pretty mild minors. You know, your stick infractions and a delay of game. Everything just kind of coasted through, with the Flyers scoring a goal in each period, slowly building their lead until it was too late for the Penguins to do anything but lose.

The Flyers now have three games remaining on the season. Their next two are on the road against Chicago and Winnipeg, while their season-closing game will be at home against the Ottawa Senators. We’re so close.

First period

Considering how wacky some Flyers-Penguins games tend to get, it took a while for anything of note to happen in this game. We went about 15 minutes with no penalties, barely any whistles, and minimal quality chances for either team. With less than 5 left, Ronnie Attard put a shot on on Louis Domingue, which bounced to Noah Cates, who got a stick on it and kept the play alive. A crashing Owen Tippett picked it up in front of the net, but could not get any lift on it, leading to another Domingue save that ended up on Morgan Frost’s stick on the back door. Frost put it home for his fifth goal of the season and the Flyers took the lead 1-0, which would hold going into the first intermission.

The period came to an end with the shot numbers fairly even—15 for the Flyers and 14 for the Penguins.

Second period

The Flyers took the first penalty of the game a few minutes into the second period, with Attard getting called for hooking Brock McGinn. The Flyers killed off the penalty, though, only allowing two Penguins’ shots and even getting one of their own off. The Flyers would score coming off the ensuing TV timeout, with the Tippett-Cates-Frost line finding the back of the net again around the 13-minute mark. Off an offensive zone faceoff, the line cycled the puck around a few times, with Morgan Frost making a nice Claude Giroux-like job of holding on to the puck despite getting knocked down and getting it to Keith Yandle at the point. Yandle’s point shot was deflected perfectly by an unobstructed Cates into the back of the net.

The Flyers would take their first crack at the man advantage midway through the game when Mike Matheson slashed Owen Tippett, but those two minutes—and the rest of the period—would pass without any more score changes. The Kid Line created another quality chance on a 2-on-1 from Frost to Cates but Domingue made the stop, and the Penguins would get another power play after a long discussion between the referees and linesmen determined that an Ivan Provorov flipped puck had left the ice above the glass and should be considered a delay-of-game.

The middle stanza was once again tight in terms of shots, with the Flyers putting 11 on Domingue and the Penguins 13 on Martin Jones. The even strength shots were even tighter, with 7 apiece.

Third period

A faceoff win for Morgan Frost over Jeff Carter resulted in the puck on Cates’ stick alone in front of Domingue, but he was hooked from behind by John Marino, sending the Flyers to the first power play of the third period with around 12 minutes to go in the game. Cates not only drew the penalty, but he would score the eventual power play goal, an almost identical tip past Domingue to his first goal of the game. This time it was off an Ivan Provorov shot from closer to the center of the ice.

The Penguins finally got on the board with around 3:30 to go, as Sidney Crosby scooped in a rebound off a Jake Geuntzel shot.

With just a two-goal deficit now, the Penguins pulled Domingue following the ensuing faceoff but generated almost no zone time before Kevin Hayes carried the puck into their zone and passed it off to Travis Konecny, who found the empty net for his 16th goal of the season.

The Flyers finished the game with an advantage in all strength shots, 43-38 and even strength shots, 35-31.

Stray observations

  • I’ve mostly managed to avoid Paul Bissonette as a commenter because I don’t really engage with much Barstool Sports content, but he’s mostly unavoidable on these TNT broadcasts. It’s not that I don’t think there’s room for his casual, almost fan-like style in the NHL—in fact, I think we could use a lot more of that—it’s just that I don’t really care for him specifically.
  • The 4 p.m. start for the Flyers was very nice because—well, in part because the game is over and the sun is still up—but also because it leads right into the Panthers-Lightning game. It’s a heavyweight matchup and a potential second round preview for the Atlantic Division. Claude Giroux has 20 points in 16 games for Florida up to this point and is coming off a goal and two assists against the Maple Leafs.
  • My wife—who watches hockey but casually—asked me why the puck over the glass penalty was non-reviewable, to which I said that some types of calls are allowed to be reviewed and some aren’t. But why? I really have no idea. I get that some things are subjective, but why does that mean you can’t watch it again?

Stray stats

  • The young line of Tippett, Frost, and Cates have played well together, but today was probably their best game so far. They won the shot attempt battle during their ice time by a margin of 16-7, the shot battle 13-3, and scored 2 goals while allowing none.
  • The last time Martin Jones played against the Penguins was on February 29, 2020, when he shut them out in net for the Sharks, stopping all 30 shots. Prior to that, he stopped all 26 Penguins’ shots in a 4-0 Sharks win on February 21, 2019. The last time Jones allowed a goal to the Penguins before Crosby’s today was scored by Derick Brassard on January 15, 2019. The last time Jones lost to the Penguins was January 30, 2018.
  • Noah Cates and Morgan Frost are now tied for most goals by Flyers rookies this season with 5 each.
  • The largest unbroken stretch of consecutive sweater numbers on this Flyers roster is five: no. 45 Cam York, no. 46 Bobby Brink, no. 47 Ronnie Attard, no. 48 Morgan Frost, and no. 49 Noah Cates.
  • The win today puts the 2021-22 Flyers ahead of the 1969-70 Flyers in points percentage with .386. If that holds—which it won’t—they’ll be only the third-worst team in franchise history as opposed to the second-worst.