Noel Acciari and Matt Nieto can’t go tonight due to injuries, which opens the door for Vinnie Hinostroza to get back in and Joona Koppanen can make his Penguin debut.
Nothing much going on early on in this one. The Penguins get a power play 94 seconds into the game, and nothing does more to stall momentum for them these days than that.
Shots are only 7-3 Philadelphia in the opening frame. Not much to write home about.
The Penguins get another early period power play, and this one looks a little better but doesn’t amount to any pucks in the net.
Due to having the first two power plays go against them, surprise surprise - the Flyers got the next three calls all in their favor. Their power play didn’t look any better.
Almost 35 minutes into the game, it’s finally the Pens who break the ice on the scoreboard. Kris Letang throws a puck on net that gets a fortunate bounce when a Flyer deflects it in past his own goalie. At this point, they’ll take it. 1-0 Pittsburgh.
Since entering the league in 2006.07, no defenseman has more points against the Flyers than Kris Letang (50) pic.twitter.com/Yvx61rLuc6— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 3, 2023
As is often the case, a goal after a long drought opens things up and brings more action. Owen Tippett is ahead of the play and gets a breakaway but Tristan Jarry stops him with the glove hand.
But Tippett gets another clean breakaway, learns from his last chance and flings a backhand shot over Jarry’s blocker side to tie the game at 1-1.
The Flyers keep tipping the ice and searching for a go-ahead goal at this point, but Jarry doesn’t let them find it. Shots were 15-8 PHI in the second.
Instead of an early period power play like the first two frames, the Pens just skip to scoring a goal. Bryan Rust sends the puck around for Erik Karlsson and Karlsson gets it on net. Jake Guentzel is in the crease and it bounces off his skate and into the net. 2-1 Pens but still with 18:10 to play.
Jake Guentzel has points in 16 of his last 18 games (7G-13A). pic.twitter.com/M1iRRQczlR— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 3, 2023
Nic Deslauriers boards Ryan Graves and takes a penalty, in one of ironically the few ways Deslauriers can actually help a team in this instance, given how bad the Pittsburgh power play is. The Pens keep zone time for almost the entire two minutes and their top players out there. Which means Guentzel and Evgeni Malkin don’t have much gas left when the puck is cleared and Scott Laughton has all the time in the world to dangle around a helpless Jarry and tie the game.
The Flyers trip Marcus Pettersson for another dreaded Penguin power play (are they learning this is to their advantage?) and at least Karlsson ends it early by taking a penalty himself to prevent a Flyer from getting another rush chance.
Philadelphia gets their first lead of the game at 6:08 to go when their power play cycled back through. Tyson Foerster got a lot on a shot to beat Jarry high and to the blocker again.
The Pens pull Jarry with two minutes left. The desperate push pays off, goalie Samuel Ersson stops the first shot but Guentzel knocks the fluttering rebound out of mid-air for his second goal of the night to tie the game with 20 seconds left and get Pittsburgh a point for the standings.
JAKE GUENTZEL FORCES OVERTIME!— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 3, 2023
Now, let's make it count! pic.twitter.com/QyHkssJwZM
Some nice end-to-end action with chances for both teams, but neither team can finish. The Flyers get caught making a bad line change to gift Pittsburgh a literal last minute power play with 60 seconds to go, but the Pens don’t have any luck on the 4v3 either.
Foerster is up first, save by Jarry
Guentzel goes for the Pens, but misses high
Couturier pulls a nifty shift of his body and fools Jarry, scores to the forehand side
Crosby is up for the response attempt, his glove hand shot is stopped by Ersson
Konency goes with the chance to win it but Jarry stands tall and stones him
Rust with the game on the line — his backhand effort is stopped
- If you didn’t know or could put out of your mind the fact the Pens’ power play was 0-for-22 in the last 22 attempts coming into tonight, it didn’t look that bad. There was player movement and no stagnation like usual. They weren’t shooting into blocked lanes that much. Either Rust or Guentzel was posted up in front most of the time. But they didn’t score and they gave up a goal in a key moment when they were trying to make the game 3-1 and it instead turned into 2-2. Along with that Anaheim game, it’s another example of the power play almost literally turning what woulda/shoulda been a victory into what would become a loss by allowing a goal against and then taking a penalty while on the power play that turned into ANOTHER Flyers goal. Which is the tougher part of the situation to deal with.
- On the bright side, it was another very strong showing for Jarry. He stopped the first 20 shots he saw, kept the Flyers off the scoreboard for a long time and played well. If only he could score every game.
- Where did the Reilly Smith of the first 8-10 games of the season go? That guy’s been missing for a while.
- Radim Zohorna only got three shifts and 1:58 total of ice time after his second period penalty. (In his defense, it was a “roughing” call that barely grazed the head of a Flyer). Interesting to watch if it’s an extended stay in the doghouse or moved on from after tonight. Zohorna is also a player you could look at and want to play more like he did in the first 5-7 games of the season, compared to the last few weeks..
- Guentzel is heating up though. He always seems to standout in the Flyers game, dating way back to the days where the Flyers used to make the playoffs and Guentzel had that four-goal game against them. Nice to see him cash in from the front of the net too, going to need that mentality to stay hungry on the power play as well.
- Quiet game for Crosby and Malkin. Geno had a really determined backchecking effort and actually demonstrated some really strong defense late in the game against Tippett. Don’t see that very often from him. But other than that little flash it was pretty quiet for the two-headed monster.
- Per Bob Grove, the Pens have now lost four of their last five shootouts and have converted 4 of 15 shots in those shootouts. Seems like that’s always the way it goes with a while of losing these things all the time, then luck swings and a team wins a bunch in a row. Tonght was Pittsburgh’s first shootout of the season 23 games in. Given the current OT format, for better or worse, there are usually only a couple of shootout games per season for a team like the Penguins who are almost guaranteed more often than not to score or be scored on in 3v3 action.
Same two teams meet up on Monday night on the eastern side of the commonwealth to do business again.