Just 13:41 into the game, it was looking pretty ugly for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Wayne Simmonds scored his second power play goal of the period to put the Philadelphia Flyers up 3-0. The Flyers had peppered Marc-Andre Fleury with 15 shots, chasing him from the game. It wasn't really his fault, but the Pens had been out-scored 7-0 by their cross-state rivals and didn't look like they belonged in the same game.
Knowing all that, a 4-3 loss- with a last second chance to tie going just wide- doesn't seem so bad.
Still, losing to Philadelphia is never fun, especially when they badly needed (and got) four points this weekend to boost their playoff chances.
All that tied up, the Pens couldn't come through, but are still up 15 points for the division lead. Take a deep breath and the sun will come up tomorrow.
A few more thoughts on the game before we move on:
- Special teams always matter, and they turned the tide today. Simmonds scored two power play goals, and Matt Read scored a short-handed goal. The Pens went 0 for 4 on the power play. Not pretty.
- And it's never an excuse to surrender a goal while up a man, but the Pens second "power play" unit was Brandon Sutter, Taylor Pyatt, Brian Gibbons, Olli Maatta and Deryk Engelland. Not pretty.
- Bylsma caught some flak on social media for putting Engelland (who blew a tire and got caught deep, creating the 2-on-1 for Read to score on)- even on the ice. But Matt Niskanen played the first half of the PP and Maatta was on the ice, the only other options would have been Brooks Orpik, Rob Scuderi or Robert Bortuzzo. Engelland was the right choice, he just made a bad play.
- Speaking of Orpik, what a knuckle-puck for his second goal of the season to make the score 3-1 in the first period and give the Penguins and the crowd some badly needed life.
- Tough outing for Fleury, who got absolutely no support from the team in front of him. A couple of the saves he made appeared to be sure-fire goals. But no one can do it all when Simmonds has three chances in front of the net with no presence to stop him. Jeff Zatkoff, who entered the game in relief also was very good, making a few great saves as the Pens tried to rally.
- Can this be the last of Tanner Glass -first line winger? Or Taylor Pyatt - actual NHL player? Please.
- A nice goal by Jayson Megna off a feed from Gibbons. Let's hope Megna isn't injured after the 3rd period, since he can be semi-useful.
- Best news of the day came after the day: Kris Letang has been cleared by doctors and will join his teammates tomorrow for practice. Full practice. No return details are known, and Sidney Crosby did skate 7 months before he returned back in 2011, so who knows. But still a good sign and good news to hear.
Overall, in the pair of back-to-backs against the Capitals and the Flyers, the Pens took 4 points. .500 hockey, which on a "bigger picture" doesn't seem so bad, especially considering the injuries to James Neal and Chris Kunitz. Hopefully the Pens will get some good news on injuries for once and can move forward and keep looking to the end of the season.