PHILADELPHIA — The Pittsburgh Penguins (11-10-3) had extended zone time in the first half of the third period. In a 1-1 game, the puck was on the Penguins’ stick, but it never left their stick, either. The Penguins needed more than 10 minutes in the third period to snap their first shot but also held the Philadelphia Flyers off the scoreboard in the third, forcing overtime at the Wells Fargo Center.
Sean Couturier scored in the final minute of OT, and the Flyers beat the Penguins 2-1. The Penguins earned a point but ceded another to the Flyers, whom they now trail by three points in the Metro and for the Eastern Conference wild card.
The first period set no one’s heart aflutter. Both teams were just off the mark on high-danger chances, and the Penguins failed to convert on their 28th consecutive power play. The registered zero shots but were generous enough to give a couple.
However, the Penguins’ top line again lit the lamp at even strength, and they did so in the final minute of the period. Jake Guentzel cruised the right wing on a two-on-one before laying a buttery pass near the crease for Sidney Crosby (15), who easily tapped the pass over Flyers’ netminder Carter Hart.
Guentzel leads the NHL with 25 even-strength points. Crosby is second with 23.
According to NaturalStatTrick.com, each side only had two high-danger chances in the first 20 minutes, though the shots were 14-8 for the Penguins.
The Penguins’ power play went from bad to terrible earlier in the second period. The Flyers had three shorthanded chances, including a breakaway, but the Penguins, for the 29th consecutive time, failed to score on a power play.
In fact, after two power plays, the Penguins had zero shots, and the Flyers had four shorthanded shots.
The Penguins’ second-period lifeless pursuit of power-play imperfection spilled into even-strength play, and a three-on-three rush became a wide-open Tyson Foerster in the left-wing circle. Foerster (5) snapped a short-side shot past Nedeljkovic to push the Flyers to even but further claim the momentum.
The teams traded surges in the second period, but neither were able to convert. The Penguins’ turnovers sprang several odd-man rushes while they also pushed the Flyers in the low zone and around the net.
The teams also shared overlapping power plays later in the third period. Neither scored, and the Penguins’ power-less play streak hit 30, but they got a shot on the final attempt without giving up a shorthanded chance.
Alex Nedeljkovic earned his keep with a few 10-bell saves, including a brilliant splits-save on Joel Farabee later in the second period to preserve the 1-1 tie.
Nedeljkovic stopped 21 of the first 22 shots after 40 minutes and 28 of 29 in regulation. Overall, he stopped 31 of 33. Hart stopped 24 of the first 25 and 29 of 30 in regulation. The Penguins had the puck but only two shots in OT.
Nedeljkovic began the game with a .937 save percentage.
The Penguins entered the game two points behind the Flyers in both the Metro Division standings and for the Eastern Conference wild card, but the Flyers have one game in hand.
The Penguins have struggled against the upper half of the Metro Division, losing their last five (0-3-2), including a 4-3 shootout loss to Flyers Saturday at PPG Paints Arena.