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Penguins/Flyers Recap: Pens sloppy again in 5-2 loss

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The Pens start slow and can’t quite catch up, dropping a 5-2 contest in Philadelphia

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

Pregame

The Penguins mix it up from the first game, Cody Ceci takes a seat and Chad Ruhwedel cycles in. D-pairs are adjusted to put the best four players on the top two pairs. Novel concept!

First period

For a team that went down 3-0, the Pens actually started fairly decently against the Flyers. Shots were 5-0 early. Then Pittsburgh got called for their second too many men call in as many games this season. The PK was even doing well, but Chad Ruhwedel got called for a trip as it was dying down, giving the Flyers another crack at it. This time, Philly came through with a really nice passing play from Claude Giroux to Jakub Voracek quickly to Travis Konecny. How this eluded Brian Dumoulin’s stick is beyond me. 1-0.

Two minutes later, Konecny strikes again. Tristan Jarry can’t keep the puck in front of and spins around backwards (this never works) and the Flyers chip it in. 2-0.

Then just two minutes later, the floodgates come open. Jarry breaks his stick, is totally out of it and Ivan Provorov blows a puck by him short-side. 3-0 and that’s the end of the night for Jarry. 3-0 just 11:30 into the game.

Luckily for the Pens, they turn the tide. After getting their first power play of the game, Sidney Crosby cashes in on it with a backhand goal.

Next shift out, the Pens’ best line of the season so far strikes. Jared McCann does well to shoot hard far-side on Carter Hart. Hart punches out the rebound, but unfortunately for him it’s right to the charging Brandon Tanev. Tanev has an open net to fire it into and it’s 3-2 with Pittsburgh back engaged and on the comeback trail.

Casey DeSmith, in the game cold, sees Kevin Hayes bear down on him for a breakaway for his first shot in the NHL since March 16th, 2019. DeSmith stones him. Big time moment to keep the game at 3-2.

The Pens get two more power plays, but don’t do much with it. For shame!

Crazy ass period. Shots are 14-9 Pittsburgh. 5v5 Corsi% is 54.2% in the Pens’ edge. 5v5 scoring chances are even (8-8), as are high danger chances (4-4).

Second period

Sean Couturier left the game in the first period and has not returned for the second.

Kris Letang takes a penalty early to negate the power play. Pittsburgh kills it off.

John Marino springs Jason Zucker on a clear breakaway but the backhand shot is stopped.

Mike Matheson goes to the box for tripping. Tanev takes a slapper directly to the foot but of course is too tough to put down and comes back soon.

The Pens’ get another power play when Scott Laughton slashes Crosby, they don’t do a ton with it and then McCann goes to the box for a very ill-advised way to stick out his arm and ram his elbow into a Flyers’ head. Not good. All penalties cycle through.

Great period for the Pens, despite being on the PK for 5 minutes (to only 1+ on the PP) shots are 10-4 in the second frame for PIT. Overall they are 24-13 PIT. 5v5 CF% for the game is 60% Pens. SCF% and HDSCF% are 56.0% and 57.1%, respectively for Pittsburgh through two periods. Everything going good, except they didn’t put any past Hart in this period.

Third period

Not much going on in the third, the Pens get a power play in the middle of the third when Mike Matheson is crushed into the boards from behind. A lot of quality zone time and looks at the net, but they can’t solve Hart.

The refs even it up by sending Zucker off for a slash shortly after. The Pens kill it off but soon after the Flyers get an odd-man rush the other way, make a couple of cross ice passes and Konency mostly fans but still gets enough to put it into the net for a 4-2 lead for his club with just over 7 minutes remaining.

Oskar Lindblom tacks on an empty netter with 2:08 left to erase any doubts and make it 5-2.

Some thoughts

  • When we were little and couldn’t trick anyone’s little brother into playing goalie (sorry Trevor) we would put an old briefcase or a trashcan or some obstacle in the net. It wouldn’t really provide much resistance, but it would just kinda be there. For some reason that’s what Jarry reminded me about on that second goal, where a weak shot just leaked right through him, and he spun right out of the net for an easy tap in for the Flyers. The Pens aren’t very strong defensively (can’t blame the goalie for a slam dunk one-t from point blank range on the first goal), but their goalie hasn’t really helped the cause, either.
  • Jankowski finished 2nd in the NHL in 2018-19 with five SHG. It’s easy to see why. He hangs onto the puck, takes it into the zone and is just kinda a treat to watch killing penalties.
  • Guentzel and Zucker had glorious chances in the second from right in front, just couldn’t cash in. Ditto even Ruhwedel and Evan Rodrigues. Hart was good, but the Pens were a bit snakebit too.
  • The Pens came out very physical. McCann bodychecked Couturier (and Coots wouldn’t return after that early shift). Sam Lafferty bloodied Laughton. Tanev was flying around like a maniac as usual taking out anything with a pulse. Hits overall in the game were 30-24 Pens.
  • Letang was on ice for all 5 goals against. Not great! All of Konecny’s goals were scored from breathing distance of the goalie, too.
  • DeSmith wasn’t asked to do a lot, but he provided some settling play by keeping the puck out of the net for 41 minutes. For what we’ve seen this season, that’s a positive right there.
  • On the other end, Hart was very good. Especially in that second period, the Pens tested him heavily and he had all the answers. Tough to take in a short season, but that’s how it goes sometimes.

Unlocking keys to the game (from the preview)

#1: “the Pens need more out of the Malkin line (and more defending against the Hayes line).”

50% credit here, I guess. The Hayes line didn’t do anything, but unfortunately the bigger story was again a quiet line by Malkin and his line. The Pens aren’t going to do a lot when that line isn’t clicking and it wasn’t.

#2: “How does Jarry bounce back for the second game?”

Jarry got bounced after only 11:30 of the game, seeing just 6 shots but having 3 of them end up behind him. It’s fair to debate how much of the blame pie he has to take, but Jarry’s allowed nine goals in 71 minutes this season on a .758% save%. That’s Niemi-esque. Just can’t happen, the goalie has to find a way to keep the puck out of the net more than that. No one has to be happier to get out of Philly tonight than Tristan Jarry. Onto the next.

#3: “Win the special teams battle.”

Can’t say the Pens did. Power play went 1/5, OK but had a chance for more. PK went 5/6 which was good, but gave up another goal soon after it ended. Going to the box six times is also a problem in and of itself, as was taking another too many men call.