Philadelphia Flyers rookie Noah Cates had the best game of his short rookie season, and other Flyers newbies drafted by former Flyers GM, now Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ron Hextall, had a day. The Penguins looked like a disinterested team playing the second of back-to-back games and never led in the Flyers 4-1 win at Wells Fargo Center on Sunday afternoon.
Sidney Crosby (31) scored a goal on a rebound attempt in the final minutes
Cates, 23, turned pro last month after four seasons at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He was the Flyers 2017 fifth-round pick. Cates had a pair of goals and one assist. He also drew the third period penalty, which spotted Philadelphia a rare power-play goal. Philadelphia’s other tally was by Morgan Frost, a Hextall pick (2017 first-round).
The Penguins await the result of the Washington Capitals hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night. The Penguins lead Washington by two points, but at the time of publishing Washington has two games in hand. The Penguins’ loss gives Washington control of their battle for third place and the effort to avoid playing the Eastern Conference top seed Florida Panthers in Round One of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Pittsburgh Penguins just didn’t have it on Sunday.
Later in the first period, Morgan Frost scored the first and only goal of the period. Penguins goalie Louis Domingue could not squeeze the initial shot, and the Flyers got a couple of rebound attempts. Mike Matheson and Evgeni Malkin let Frost (5) have the last poke.
The shots were high volume, and so were the scoring chances. Philadelphia outshot the Penguins 15-14, but the Penguins outchanced Philadelphia 10-9.
The Penguins weren’t great in the first period but had a few good chances. However, the Wells Fargo Center doctors may have called the coroner in the second period as the Penguins glided through the motions.
Not even an early period power play could fire their engine.
Midway through the period, the Penguins were spectators as rookie Noah Cates (4) scored his fourth goal in his 13th NHL game with a nifty deflection near the Penguins net.
Domingue didn’t have a chance as Jeff Carter, and Chris Ruhwedel failed to cover. Frost was also a Hextall pick (2017 first-round).
Evgeni Malkin led the Penguins with four shots after two periods, as the Penguins outshot Philadelphia 27-26 after the second period.
Midway through the third period, the Flyers’ league-worst power play scored. The Flyers’ power play isn’t just bad. It’s almost historically bad at just 12% this season. However, Cates (5) scored on a nearly identical deflection–stick chest high–to score the Flyers’ third goal.
Domingue was excellent. He stopped 36 of 39 before being pulled with over four minutes remaining. He stopped one more in a brief appearance after Crosby’s goal.
Travis Konecny scored the empty-net goal for a 4-1 lead with 2:34 left. In keeping with the theme, Konecny was the Hextall’s first-round pick in 2015.
Martin Jones has shut out the Penguins in three straight starts, dating back to a pair of games in San Jose. The Pittsburgh Penguins beat Jones and the Sharks in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, but Jones extracted more revenge on Sunday. He stopped the first 35 shots before Crosby stuffed a rebound into the cage after Domingue was pulled.