The Pittsburgh Penguins (0-1-0) season began well with a splendid effort from the new third line centered by Mark Jankowski, but a third period collapse handed the Philadelphia Flyers (1-0-0) three unanswered goals. Philadelphia scored six goals, all within a few feet of the net, and beat the Penguins 6-3 at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night.
Joel Farabee was the unexpected star as he scored four points, including three assists.
The Penguins capitalized on disorganized Philadelphia zone coverage early in the first period. Despite being on the wrong side of the puck for the first several minutes, the Penguins’ third line, centered by offseason free-agent acquisition Mark Jankowski spurred the first offensive pressure.
Jared McCann slipped a neat backhand pass across the crease, and Jankowski (1) quickly snapped the cheddar (top shelf) past Philadelphia goalie Carter Hart. There was some confusion if the puck crossed the goal line, but a quick replay definitively answered to the affirmative.
However, Philadelphia piled in three goals in the final minutes of the first and second periods.
With just under five minutes remaining in the first period, James Van Riemsdyk (1) perfectly deflected Erik Gustafsson’s point shot. It was a power-play goal after Penguins defenseman Cody Ceci took a slashing penalty. It was the first of two Philadelphia power-play goals.
“It’s just us coming together as a group and getting better day by day,” Penguins penalty killer Brandon Tanev said. “Obviously, we weren’t happy with the way the penalty kill was (tonight), but that’s on us. The next game, we’ll push the pace and do better in that situation.”
In the final eight seconds of the first period, Philadelphia scored again. Nolan Patrick, who missed all last season due to a migraine disorder, netted his first goal since March of 2019. Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry never saw Gustafsson’s point shot, and Patrick (1) deflected it from the slot.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby earned a sweet gift early in the second period. As the Penguins were squandering their second power play, Crosby picked Hart’s clearing attempt out of the air. Crosby (1) lunged towards the rolling puck and one-handed it into the net before Hart could get back into the crease. 2-2.
The Penguins otherwise dominated the second period, though high-danger scoring chances were few. After 16 minutes of the middle period, the Penguins led 7-2 in shots and 21-12 overall.
However, Matheson drifted into dead space in the defensive zone. Farabee (1) was alone in the crease and stuffed it through Jarry. Farabee assisted on the first two Philadelphia goals, and the marker was his third point of the game. 3-2.
Philadelphia rallied in the final minutes of the second period to close the shots gap, in addition to holding the lead.
The Pittsburgh Penguins third line struck again in the first few minutes of the third period. Jankowski backhanded a pass across the slot to trailing Tanev (1), who snapped a wrister over Hart’s glove hand to tie the game, 3-3.
“I was going up the wall, (McCann) had a good net drive. I just heard (Tanev) screaming,” Jankowski admitted. “I took a quick look out of the corner of my eye and saw that he was open … luckily it got to him and (he made) an unbelievable shot, bardown to put it in.”
Jankowski scored two points in his first Penguins game. The Jankowski line did not allow a shot attempt-against in the first 45 minutes. The line scored a pair of goals and had seven shot attempts.
However, the Penguins tie was short-lived, again. Philadelphia caved-in the Penguins with three unanswered third period goals and cruised to the win.
Just a couple of minutes after Tanev’s goal, Michael Raffl finished a Philadelphia jailbreak to the Penguins zone. Flyers center Scott Laughton got to a loose puck in the Penguins zone before John Marino could cut him off. Laughton dove to tap it into the slot for one scoring chance, which Jarry stopped. However, Raffl (1) beat Jake Guentzel to the Penguins net and poked the second chance through Jarry for the third Philadelphia lead. 4-3.
According to NaturalStatTrick.com, the Jankowski line didn’t allow a shot attempt until eight minutes remaining in the game. However, that shot attempt was the backbreaker. Sean Couturier beat Jared McCann up the ice. Jankowski and Ceci converged on the net, but Travis Konecny (1) was wide open a few feet back for the garbage goal. 5-3.
Another minute later, Kevin Hayes (1) buried a rebound into a yawning cage. 6-3. Farabee also assisted for a four-point night.
Jarry’s stat line does not look good. He stopped only 17 of the first 21 shots and 19 of 25. However, all six Philadelphia goals were scored on deflections or by wide-open players just a stick length from the crease.
The Philadelphia power play was 2-for-3, including the two first period goals. The Penguins power play was 1-for-3.
Carter Hart stopped 29 of 32 shots for his first win of the year. The two teams will complete the two-game set on Friday at the Wells Fargo Center.