BREAKING DOWN PENGUINS 4-3 LOSS TO FLYERS
A disastrous first period and poor special teams play sunk the Penguins (44-19-4, 92 pts) in a 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers (35-25-7, 77 pts) on Sunday afternoon.
Philadelphia took both games in the home and home series in impressive fashion to move into second place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Penguins fell behind 3-0 just 14 minutes into the game and special teams was again strongly in the Flyers favor as Wayne Simmonds scored two power play goals and Matt Read added a shorthanded goal.
“I think anytime you can beat Pittsburgh twice is a big boost,” Flyers coach Craig Berube said.
For the Penguins coming off a lackluster performance on Saturday, they were again a team not ready to play today when the puck dropped. Injuries or not that was concerning.
Plagued by immaturity the Penguins were undisciplined to start the game. Pittsburgh was mentally weak as Robert Bortuzzo took a retaliation penalty on Scott Hartnell after Hartnell caught Lee Stempniak in the neutral zone with his head down on a clean hit. The penalty led to a Wayne Simmonds power play goal, 6:47 into the game to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead.
Two minutes and seven seconds later, Evgeni Malkin took an offensive zone penalty (roughing/retaliation) on Zac Rinaldo. This was the type of immature play that has burned the Penguins in the post-season and the Penguins remain a team that you can get under their skin very easily. Can’t imagine that will suddenly go away this spring. Malkin and Bortuzzo would not sit a shift for their careless penalties, a problem with this hockey club that is always going to be there with the current coaching staff. At somepoint that has to change.
The undisciplined play would continue as a second offensive zone penalty, this time a Taylor Pyatt high sticking penalty would put the Flyers on the power play again and Pittsburgh would get burned as Simmonds added his second power play goal of the game on a jam play at 13:47 of the period to put the Flyers up 3-0.
The positive for the Penguins is that they actually competed in the final 45 minutes of the game and show some life after falling down 3-0.
They got the score to 3-2 and 4-3 but never fully recovered from their poor first period.
“We had better energy, better compete throughout game,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “We make one mistake, they score a goal and a couple of power play goals and that was kind of difference in the game.”
The Penguins not folding like they did Saturday was a positive and a good sign, but let’s not kid ourselves, this was still a game that the Flyers strongly outplayed the Penguins in when you break the game down over 60 minutes as it’s not a 40 minute hockey game.
“You have to compete for 60 minutes and we didn’t do a very good job of that in the first, but that’s the expectation to go out there and play hard for 60 minutes,” Sidney Crosby said. “I don’t see the positive in only playing 40.”
If it wasn’t for the Penguins goaltending, Pittsburgh would have been blown out for the second straight day. Marc Andre Fleury was pulled in the first period after giving up 3 goals on 15 shots but the Penguins were lucky it was only 3-0 as Fleury had to make a number of tough stops, including a few sensational saves, and Jeff Zatkoff played very well in relief making 19 saves on 20 shots.
The Penguins had just 12 shots through two periods as Philadelphia outshot Pittsburgh 24-12 after 40 minutes and 35-23 in the game. The Flyers had 59 shot attempts to the Penguins 43. In the two games, Philadelphia had 131 shot attempts to the Penguins 87.
“Thought we played really good,” Berube said of his hockey club’s performance. “Power play was good again, penalty kill was good again. Lots of shots, lots of chances, we played a pretty solid game.”
PHI 2:06 – Brayden Schenn (17) Backhand shot
Assists: Wayne Simmonds (29), Vincent Lecavalier (13) (1 – 0 PHI)
PHI 6:47- PPG Wayne Simmonds (20) Tip-in
Assists: Kimmo Timonen (23), Claude Giroux (45) (2 – 0 PHI)
PHI 13:41 – PPG – Wayne Simmonds (21) Wrist shot
Assists: Claude Giroux (46), Jakub Voracek (31) (3 – 0 PHI)
PIT 17:33 – Brooks Orpik (2) Slapshot
Assists: Robert Bortuzzo (6), Joe Vitale (13) (3 – 1 PHI)
PIT 05:50 – Matt Niskanen (10) Slapshot
Assists: Rob Scuderi (3), Jussi Jokinen (30) (3 – 2 PHI)
PHI 12:11 – SHG – Matt Read (19) Snap shot
Assists: Luke Schenn (7) (4 – 2 PHI)
PIT 16:19 – Jayson Megna (5) Wrist shot
Assists: Brian Gibbons (7) (4 – 3 PHI)