Flyers powerless to prevent another Penguin victory

Dave Hakstol

PHILADELPHIA – If the Flyers happen to meet the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs, they’re going to have to come up with a new strategy.

What they’ve done so far this season hasn’t been working.

The Penguins made their record 3-0 vs. the Flyers for this campaign with a convincing 5-2 win on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

A three-goal burst by the Penguins in the second period overcame a 2-1 Flyers lead and propelled Pittsburgh back into first place in the Metropolitan Division.

Meanwhile, the Flyers’ winless streak ran to four games (0-3-1) after a 12-game (10-0-2) point streak ended last Thursday.

The Flyers had a chance to move ahead of Pittsburgh and back into a first-place tie with Washington (idle).

But they turned in a somewhat sloppy effort, giving up power plays, turning over pucks (13 giveaways to Pittsburgh’s five) and allowing too many odd-man rushes.

And of course, Sidney Crosby contributed to the Flyers’ demise with assists on three of the four Pittsburgh goals.

Pittsburgh has outscored the Flyers by a 15-7 margin this season.

Philadelphia took a 2-1 lead in the second period on goals by Jake Voracek (2:07) and Travis Konecny (5:59).

Undaunted, the Penguins rallied on scores by Jamie Oleksiak (9:24) and a pair from Conor Sheary (14:25, 19:20).

One other glaring stat: The Flyers went 0 for 5 on the power play and now have just one goal in their last 19 opportunities with the man advantage.

“We didn’t play a complete game five on five,’’ coach Dave Hakstol said after the game. “We didn’t do that and it cost us.’’

What’s wrong with the power play?

“I thought up until tonight we had been generating good opportunities,’’ the coach said. “Sometimes they’re going to go, sometimes they don’t. Tonight we had trouble getting the puck off the wall and getting possession underneath, under their pressure.

“We just weren’t able to get into that set often enough and we weren’t able to recover those second pucks often enough to sustain the pressure on our power play in the zone.’’

Matching up the Flyers’ line of Val Filppula-Wayne Simmonds-Jordan Weal against the line of Crosby-Patric Hornqvist-Jake Guentzel didn’t work too well either.

Simmonds was a minus-4 and the line combined was a minus-8.

Once again, goalie Petr Mrazek was the victim of some loose defensive play.

During this four-game drought, he’s allowed 18 goals, this after winning his first three games in a Flyers uniform.

Oleksiak scored on a long screened shot. Sheary’s first goal came off a two on one against Andrew MacDonald, led by Crosby. The second goal started with a Jake Guentzel shot which deflected to Sheary in the right circle.

“I think the power play was the big difference today,’’ Voracek said. “They played very good on the penalty kill and they didn’t give us many options, much time. We were under pressure.

“I wouldn’t say we got outhustled on the power play. They just played us very well and we had a tough time adjusting.’’

The Flyers have to get right back at it in Boston Thursday night against a team that is 23-7-4 at TD Garden.

“The longer these types of things go on, the more under the microscope it gets,’’ MacDonald said. “The way the race is going right now, there are so many teams that are still in it, you don’t want to let too many games slip like this.

“Tomorrow is a great opportunity for us to get right back at it and get some points.’’

For a while, it looked like the Flyers might have a chance in this game.

Voracek scored on a hustle play by Nolan Patrick, who stole a short pass off the stick of Derick Brassard, then tried to work a give-and-go. Patrick passed, then went hard to the net. Voracek tried to pass to him but the puck deflected off the backchecking Brassard and past goalie Tristan Jarry.

A persistent Konecny connected off second and third efforts near the post to Jarry’s right, finally chipping the puck off the puck off the goalie’s left leg into the net.

But the Penguins came right back with those three goals in a span of 9:56.

“I think they just took advantage the opportunities they got,’’ MacDonald said. “Our coverage was a little bit soft.’’

Having allowed 15 goals to the high-speed Pens, is it time to slow things down a bit?

“They have a lot of skill,’’ MacDonald said. “They’re obviously a very fast team, and that’s a tough combination. We played well five on five in stretches. If we were able to play like that more consistently, we might have had a better fate.’’

 

Short shots

 

Giroux’s assist leaves him five points from tying Lindros for fifth place on the Flyers’ alltime points list. . .Scratched were Johnny Oduya, Dale Weise and Taylor Leier. . .The Flyers visit to Boston is the second half of their 13th back-to-back this season. They are 6-4-2 in the back half of these situations. The Flyers have not won at Boston since October, 2015 (0-2). . .Despite the snowstorm, the Flyers’ plane to Boston took off on time a couple hours after the game.

Wayne Fish
About Wayne Fish 453 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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