The Pittsburgh Penguins (34-16-3) squandered first place and suffered an embarrassing loss to the Philadelphia Flyers (23-22-7), who are playing out the season after already being eliminated from the playoffs. The Flyers have beaten the Penguins five of seven times this season, and Tuesday night is the Penguins’ last chance to save some face against the otherwise lowly Flyers. The puck drops at 7 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center.
Not even the Penguins have a good explanation for Philadelphia’s dominance over them.
“It’s tough to put your finger on that. They’re a good team. You’ve got to give them credit. They played well tonight, and they’ve played well against us this year,” Penguins winger Jason Zucker said. “It’s obviously an in-state rival and a big rivalry for us. So they’re always up for these games. And we are as well. Obviously, tonight, we weren’t quite ready for that one.”
The Penguins did score a pair of power-play goals against the Flyers woeful PK, which ranks 30th in the NHL. The top unit with Evgeni Malkin scored one (Sidney Crosby), as did the second unit (Jason Zucker).
*For our PHN readers who like to put a few beans on the games, we offer exclusive deals. We also like the Penguins’ chances to rebound tonight.
The Penguins are battling for first place and
Metro East Divison seeding. Washington and Boston won on Monday, putting the Penguins in second place, just ahead of the Boston Bruins. The New York Islanders slipped to fourth place with a loss.
Head coach Mike Sullivan said Tristan Jarry would start in goal. Casey DeSmith suffered a lower-body injury on Monday and did not appear in the third period. Emil Larmi is listed as the backup, though WBS Penguins goalie Maxime Lagace will likely make the trip to Philadelphia today, too.
Sullivan also said all players were game-time decisions. In theory, Brandon Tanev may play, but he was not yet cleared as of Monday and has not yet been activated from IR. Evan Rodrigues could conceivably play, too, but he did not skate on Monday, and that also seems implausible.
Alex Lyon started for Philadelphia and made a few 10-bell saves. Brian Elliott will likely get the call for Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines:
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jared McCann||Jeff Carter||Freddy Gaudreau|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Teddy Blueger||Brandon Tanev|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Mike Matheson||Cody Ceci|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
Philadelphia Flyers Lines
|Claude Giroux||Sean Couturier||Jakub Voracek|
|Joel Farabee||Kevin Hayes||Travis Konecny|
|James Van Riemsdyk||Nolan Patrick||Nicolas Aube-Kubel|
|Oskar Lindblom||Scott Laughton||Wade Allison|
|Ivan Provorov||Justin Braun|
|Travis Sanheim||Philippe Myers|
|Shayne Gostisbehere||Robert Hagg|
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||23.7%, 4th NHL||77.4%, 27th NHL|
|New York Islanders||18.8%, 21st NHL||83.7%, 6th NHL|
What to Watch
I hate to say–“I told you so” (that’s a lie), but the Penguins letdown was too predictable. If it didn’t happen on Monday, it would have happened tonight.
Now that it’s done with–probably–the Penguins can regroup and finish strong. The Penguins did nothing well on Monday night, so Philadelphia was able to do everything well. The Penguins may not have their A-game for the rest of the season, but they should have enough to beat Philadelphia.
The Flyers stormed the Penguins in the first 10 minutes on Monday–expect the Penguins to have a score to settle.
The Penguins made hay with tenacious forechecks and backchecks against Washington and Boston. Expect to see them start simply; chips and chase with easy plays. The Penguins may even crash the net to begin.
Once they establish their legs and their speed game, then everything else opens up, and Philadelphia will pull back into their 1-3-1 shell. From there, the chess match will begin.
The Penguins really missed Mike Matheson on Monday, too. The whiplash transition game with Matheson jumping into the play was missing. Mark Friedman provides more snarl than anyone else on the blue line, but he cannot do what Matheson does to spark and join the transition.
And the loss is significant.
John Marino will have to up his game to second-pair level, too. He’s certainly capable but has settled into a comfortable third-pair role and played primarily with the grind lines.
We like the Penguins to post a four or five spot on Tuesday and squash the Flyers attack.
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
Position, Player (Consecutive Games Missed, Total Games Missed)
F Brandon Tanev (14 consecutive, 20 total)
F Evan Rodrigues (2 consecutive, 18 total)
D Mike Matheson (1 consecutive, 9 total)
2020-21 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 260
-The Penguins conclude their ninth and final set of back-to-back games this season. Thus far, the Penguins are 12-4-1 in back-to-backs (8-1- 0) the first night; 4-3-1 the second night).
-Tristan Jarry’s 23 wins on the season are third-most in the NHL, trailing only Andrei Vasilevskiy (30) and Philipp Grubauer (27).
-Jake Guentzel has 16 points (4G-12A) in 18 career regular-season games against the Flyers. If you include postseason games, Guentzel has 29 points (10G-19A) in 24 games.
-Undrafted players have scored 56 points (6th, NHL) for the Pittsburgh Penguins this season. Brandon Tanev (16), Zach Aston-Reese (14), and Evan Rodrigues (14) are the leading “undrafted” scorers.
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T SportsNet, NBCSN; Radio: 105.9 The X