The Pittsburgh Penguins game began with a bang. The team exploded for three goals in the first four minutes of the game but slowly let the Philadelphia Flyers back in the game until the orange and black tied the game with six minutes remaining. Claude Giroux completed the Philadelphia comeback with two minutes remaining, and the Flyers won 4-3 Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena.
Philadelphia now leads the fifth place Penguins by two points and has two games in hand for fourth place.
“We’ve got to move by it, learn from it and have a short memory,” Sidney Crosy said. “But we definitely can’t allow games like this to happen.”
Before the game, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and assistant coach Todd Reirden were cleared from the NHL COVID protocol, and Crosby factored quickly.
Things looked very good for the Penguins. Very, very good.
In the first period, those three Penguins goals were scored within 1:11 with two odd-man breaks and resulted in three shaken-up players. Nearly three minutes into the game, Kasperi Kapanen took a hard hit to make a play to the point. Philadelphia goalie Brian Elliott misplayed Kris Letang’s (5) long shot. 1-0.
Kapanen stayed down on the ice for 30 seconds or more. He eventually skated off and stayed in the game.
Just 34 seconds later, Penguins defenseman Mark Friedman, a Flyer just last week, scored his first NHL goal. The goal resulted from a two-on-one with Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust. Elliott made a glove save, but the puck trickled into the air. Friedman (1) intercepted a failed clearing attempt and one-timed it beneath Elliott. 2-0.
While originally unassisted, official scorers later added assists to Crosby and Guentzel.
We don't wanna talk about it… https://t.co/thYl82LeGY
— Philly Hockey Now (@phillyhockeynow) March 5, 2021
And 37 seconds later, Jared McCann finished a three-on-two. Evgeni Malkin to Kapanen, who slipped a pass behind the defense. McCann (4) deflected it top-shelf, and the Penguins had a 3-0 lead.
Shortly after the Penguins’ third goal, Friedman was boarded by Nolan Patrick. It was a scary hit. In the second period, Friedman attempted to take revenge, but Patrick saw it coming and reversed the hit. Friedman was nearly knocked out and had to be helped off the ice. He did not return.
The Penguins played with five defensemen for most of the game.
Philadelphia got one of the three back via a power play. After Rust’s interference penalty, Sean Couturier (6) blasted a top corner shot from the LW circle.
The Pittsburgh Penguins got sloppy after getting the lead, and let Philadelphia inch closer early in the seconds period. After a couple of turnovers and failed clears, the Penguins left both Oscar Lindblom and Claude Giroux alone at the net. Giroux (2) finished the sequence with a chip.
Suddenly that Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 lead was a fond memory, and Tristan Jarry was the thin line holding the Penguins lead.
“We just didn’t play the game hard enough or smart enough,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “When you get up early in games, you’ve got to continue to play hard and do the things that brought you success. I don’t think we did that as a group.”
Anthony Angello hit Flyers defenseman Philip Myers late in the second period. A moment after Myers released a wrist shot, the 6-foot-5 Angello made solid contact and Myers did not play in the third period.
The teams traded shots and a few scoring chances in the third until Jarry and defenseman Mike Matheson didn’t connect behind the net. Scott Laughton snapped the loose puck to Giroux in the slot, then went to the net. Giroux’s shot hit Laughton and trickled past Jarry.
“We came out of the gate pretty aggressive, got rewarded,” Kris Letang said. “But we let our foot off the gas the rest of the game thinking we could get away with it.”
Giroux (3) netted the winner on an easy tip-in and the 2800 Penguins fans went home unhappy.
Jarry stopped 31 of 35 shots. It was the first time in his last nine games he allowed more than three goals. Elliott stopped
Before the game, Flyers winger Joel Farabee was added to the NHL COVID protocol.