Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 56: PIT 4, PHI 1 - Bounceburgh
That's the one you lose, Flyers?
For the first time in 30 days, the Philadelphia Flyers lose in regulation, 4-1, to those gosh darn Pittsburgh Penguins. Because it's totally fair that the team gifted with the greatest player of his generation and 3-time Cup winner over the last decade is the same team that needs all the bounces.
The Flyers did everything right this game. They put a season high 51 shots on goal, putting Matt Murray to the test. And that number doesn't even count a bevy of A+ chances that missed the net. That hasn't always been the case during their recent 10-game point streak. While they did outshoot Anaheim on Saturday, most of the Flyers recent wins have been the luck of timely, not consistent offense, combined with rock-solid goaltending.
And yet, they had almost nothing to show for it. The Penguins did get off to a solid start in this one, and were rewarded when a Bryan Rust pass somehow went unseen by everybody except Sidney Crosby, who stashed in a wrap-around past an unaware Carter Hart. Of course it's Crosby, who scored basically the same goal in the playoffs last year, starting the scoring with a fluke goal, the only one of the 1st period.
Things really ramped up in the 2nd period, however. Aided by two Penguins penalties, the Flyers absolutely dominated the 2nd stanza. Philadelphia had 28 shots to just 8 for the Penguins, setting a franchise-record for shots in a single period. Not just a season record. Franchise.
And the only goal of the period was scored by... the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin took advantage of a bouncing puck in the neutral zone and tipped it over to Nick Bjugstad, who fired home his first ever goal as a Penguin to extend Pittsburgh's lead.
Well, that wasn't the only puck that went in during the 2nd. At the back part of one of the Flyers power play, Travis Konecny threw a shot on net that Matt Murray gloved, but didn't control. Nolan Patrick slams home the loose puck... and it's no goal. Somehow, the referee lost sight of the puck, and the Flyers were kept off the scoreboard by the Penguins, but by the stripes. Because the Penguins have never benefitted from an intent to blow call in the history of their franchise (hears Predators fans screaming in the distance).
While it would've only cut the lead down to one, that goal, if it counted (like it should have), would've changed the complexion of the game. Instead, the Penguins weathered the Flyers strongest storm, and took the 2-0 lead into 2nd intermission. Philly wasn't able to bring quite the same jump in the 3rd, and with just over 5 minutes to go, Jake Guentzel scored on an ugly wrap-around goal, seemingly putting the game to bed.
But wait! It appears the officials are trying to make a late bid to even things out. A frustrated Evgeni Malkin swung his stick at Michael Raffl, catching the Austrain Rocket in the face. Malkin was given 5 minutes for intent to injure, and the Flyers were gifted a power play for the remainder of regulation, and a golden chance to get back in the game.
Philadelphia was able to snap Murray's shutout on a rebound goal from Jake the Snake Voracek, but couldn't push any closer. Murray was his stellar self following Voracek's tally, and kept the Flyers at bay until Kris Letang was able to pot an empty-netter in the dying seconds.
If you're the Flyers, you have to think you're living in the Twilight Zone right about now. After constantly getting outshot over the last few weeks but pulling wins out of thin air, they finally control play for a full 60, and still lost. It's a double whammy, too - had the Flyers won in regulation, they would've been just 4 points out of the last playoff spot in the East. Instead, they are now 8 back, as their slim playoff hopes took a tough hit Monday night.
While he did make some good saves early, particularly on Jake Guentzel, this wasn't Starter Hart's best game to say the least. His puck tracking wasn't as sharp as usual, and the last 2 goals he gave up should've been stopped. He wasn't the main reason they lost, but he was certainly a factor.
If there's one good thing that comes of this loss, hopefully we get to see Phil Myers soon. I get not wanting to break up the red-hot lineup, but if you're gonna call a kid like him up, you got to give him a shot. With AMac having a bit of a rough game and the Flyers right back in action tomorrow, there's a pretty good chance he makes his NHL debut against Detroit (the same team Ghost debuted against).
Also, another roster move by Chuck Fletcher - right winger Justin Bailey has been promoted from the Phantoms. Since being acquired for Taylor Leier, Bailey has put up 7 points in 10 games, and with Lehtera sent down, he was the logical choice to be the 13th forward, at least for now. He will wear #27 (for the record, Myers is #61).
Center Corban Knight cleared waivers and was sent down to the Phantoms on Sunday. Another one of Ron Hextall's precious depth pieces jettisoned from the Flyers roster.
Not that he needs any introduction, but Sidney Crosby continues to dominate the Flyers. He now has 40 goals in 65 career games against the Orange and Black.
Murray's 50 saves in this one were a career-high, easily eclipsing his previous high of 44.
Oskar Lindblom was injured on a hit early in the game, but thankfully returned after a brief trip down the tunnel. On the other hand, Olli Maataa did not return after a 1st period collision with Phil Varone. The Pens are already banged up, missing Justin Schultz and Zach Aston-Reese tonight, so they're really hoping Maatta is ok going forward for their sake.
On a positive note, I thought Ivan Provorov looked pretty good tonight. He was much better with the puck in all 3 zones, and was putting a lot of rubber on net. Provy had a team-high 8 shots on goal, which also tied a career-high from March 8th, 2018 in Boston.
For the 2nd time this year, I had the pleasure of sitting in on Tim Saunders and Steve Coates (the Flyers radio announcers). For someone who wants to have their jobs, or any in sports media one day, it was a thrilling experience. Just like last time, Saunders and Coatsey couldn't have been nicer. And if one of them ever gets sick right before game time, feel free to call me up, Flyers.
1st - M. Murray (PIT) - .980 SV% (50 Saves/51 Shots)
2nd - S. Crosby (PIT) - 1 G, 2 A
3rd - J. Voracek (PHI) - 1 G
PIT - 2/13 vs. EDM (24-26-5)
PHI - 2/12 @ DET (21-28-7)