2800 screaming fans attended their first Pittsburgh Penguins game this season. Chants of “Jarry, Jarry” broke out as goalie Tristan Jarry made 40 saves, and so did the Pittsburgh Penguins (12-8-1) break out by thoroughly beating the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-2. In regulation, no less.
The win was only the Penguins’ fifth regulation win of the season, and Jarry could hear the chants.
“That’s part of Penguins hockey, having the fans there and behind us,” Jarry said. “And you see how much it changes when there are fans in the crowd. It’s a different feeling.”
The Penguins game was also their first game without Sidney Crosby, who is out indefinitely after being placed on the COVID protocol list on Tuesday. Crosby could be out a few days if he does not have the virus or until doctors clear him if he tested positive.
After a scoreless first period, the flightless birds took off with speed and put three in the net.
“I thought the guys played hard tonight. They focused on the game. I thought we defended hard when we needed to,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. “I thought we got some pretty decent play throughout our lineup.”
Three minutes into the second period, and one minute after Philadelphia scored the first goal of the game, Kasperi Kapanen intercepted a pass at the defensive blue line and streaked the length of the ice. Kapanen (4) faked a slap shot, then zipped a wrister through Flyers goalie Carter Hart for the first Penguins goal.
He stole the move from Jason Spezza of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who used it a few nights ago.
“The goalie came out a little bit, and I had some back pressure from their D,” Kapanen said. “I just tried a fake shot and put it through his legs. I saw (Jason Spezza) do that a few weeks ago. It was something I wanted to try out.”
The goal tied the game but launched the Penguins.
Five minutes later, Kapanen (5) finished a power-play goal that looked like a chalkboard segment. Quick passes from Bryan Rust to Jake Guentzel, then to Kapanen on the backside of the crease gave the Penguins the lead, 2-1.
Then, a couple of minutes later, Bryan Rust finished another textbook breakout. From Marcus Pettersson’s 100-foot breakout pass from behind the net to the red line, Guentzel, Malkin, and Kris Letang touched the puck in rapid succession. Rust (7) finished Letang’s rebound when Flyers d-men Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere left him alone in front.
The Penguins led 3-1, though not without help from goalie Tristan Jarry.
Jarry returned to the net after making six straight starts and resting on Sunday. He was a brick wall in the first period and had to be. The Penguin took two penalties in the first four minutes. Jarry made a handful of tough saves until the Penguins settled down.
Jarry also earned the first “Jarry!” chants of the season when he did the splits to rob James van Riemsdyk at the post in the second period. Overall, the Penguins goalie outdueled his offseason workout buddy Carter Hart. Jarry stopped 40 of 42 shots.
Philadelphia forward Joel Farabee scored the game’s first goal just a couple of minutes into the second period. Farabee (9) lept over a falling Mike Matheson on his way to the net and snapped it past Jarry.
The Flyers and Farabee made things interesting for a minute in the third period, too. Midway through the final period, Farabee (10) cleaned a fluttering rebound for his second goal of the game.
But Matheson ended the suspense late in the third period. As the Flyers rushed up ice, Hart sprinted for the bench, but Matheson (2) stole the puck at the Penguins blue line and scored the long quasi-empty net goal. Hart was still on the ice but had left the net.
The Flyers outshot the Penguins 14-5 in the first period, but the shot clock was not as lopsided at 5v5, nor was the possession. Philadelphia had eight even-strength shots, the Penguins had four on goal, and the Flyers blocked nine.
Philadelphia returned to full health on Tuesday. Travis Konecny was the last of six players activated from the Flyers’ COVID list.
Before the game, the Penguins recalled Josh Currie and Drew O’Connor. The team also announced assistant coach Todd Reirden was unavailable due to NHL COVID protocols. Skills coach Ty Hennes served as a bench coach with head coach Mike Sullivan and Mike Vellucci.
Currie played as the Penguins fourth-line center.
Penguins defenseman Mark Friedman, who was claimed off waivers from the Flyers last week played in his first game with the Penguins and earned an assist on Cody Ceci’s goal. P.O. Joseph was a healthy scratch.
Pittsburgh Penguins Talking Points:
Pin one on Tristan Jarry and Kasperi Kapanen. On a night when the Penguins played with more energy and intensity than they have in a long time, Those two stood above.
Jarry’s big save count was a half dozen or more.
The Penguins PK was a perfect five-for-five.
What Was That?
Believe it or not, the Penguins makeshift power play also looked good. Kapanen played the point and RW circle. The Penguins moved well but ultimately took shots and retrieved the puck.
The Penguins PPG was a nice read by Kapanen to sneak to the back post while Guentzel battled in front. Malkin threaded the puck right to him.
Things to Improve
The Pittsburgh Penguins took far too many penalties. Just a minute into the game, the first call was bogus, but you needed a slow-mo replay to see that Zach Aston-Reese didn’t trip Philippe Myers. Rather Myers lost an edge.
However, the Penguins took another penalty four minutes into the game, then two more in the second period when they were dominating. None were necessary penalties.
Lafferty again was too rambunctious immediately after the Penguins killed the Malkin penalty at the start of the third. He was called for a slashing during one of Malkin’s best shifts of the season.