Parties are supposed to be a fun time but not when a visitor shows up and pours cold water all over the guest of honor.
Perhaps we embellish the role Sidney Crosby played in putting a damper on Flyer goalie Brian Elliott’s 500th game on Tuesday night. . .but you get the idea.
Crosby scored a pair of goals, assisted on another and ran roughshod on the Flyer defense, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins avenge Monday night’s 7-2 loss to Philadelphia with a 7-3 victory of their own.
Once again, the Flyers couldn’t carry any momentum from the first game of this two-game set at the Wells Fargo Center into the getaway encounter.
Thus, the streak of no back-to-back home wins since January continues.
Give the Flyers this much: After falling behind by scores of 3-0 and 4-2, they did rally twice to close the deficit to one goal.
But then oft-repeated mistakes reared their ugly heads. As sharp as Elliott was, he couldn’t hold off the tidal wave that was the Penguin offense.
The Flyers fell back to .500 with three games to play, two of them at Washington. Barring any overtime decisions, the Flyers need to win two of those to avoid finishing under .500 for only the second time since 1993-94.
Crosby was an embarrassing minus-4 in Monday night’s game, so he came out with fire in his eyes for this one.
“I think it was safe to figure – you know Sid had a tough game last night,’’ coach Alain Vigneault said. “Him being the player that he is, he wanted to have a bounce-back game. He certainly did.’’
The Flyers helped make it easier for him. For the 12th time in 13 games, Philadelphia allowed an opponent to score first and it only got worse from there.
“It was a game that unfolded like many of the ones that we’ve had in the past,’’ Vigneault said. “Bad passing right off the hop. It gives them grade-A chances where our goaltender doesn’t have a chance. Penalty killing didn’t do the job. When you’re chasing the game, sometimes you take risks, they made us pay.’’
Despite the loss, Elliott said it was a special evening. His family was there to witness a little bit of history.
Aside from the physical fitness aspect which allows him to keep playing, what’s the motivation? Is it the spirit of competition?
“Nothing’s really come that easy for me,’’ said the former ninth-round draft pick. “You just have to work hard. Ever since getting drafted second-to-last overall, it kind of puts a little burr in your saddle.
“You just want to prove to everybody that you can do it. Had a lot of help throughout the years, starting with the parents, my family, my brother, coaches. Everybody has a role in getting you to a point where you play 500 games.’’
The way he’s playing right now, it would not be a shock to see him sign another one-year contract. Just his role as a mentor to Carter Hart is worth a couple million.
“I’m really proud to reach that milestone (500 games) as a goalie,’’ Elliott said. “Wife and kids were there watching. Really joyful for me.’’
>Goalies who played their 500th game in Flyers jersey
Elliott became just the fourth goalie in team history to play their 500th NHL game in a Flyer jersey.
Two of the other three are considered the best two goalies in Flyers’ history – Bernie Parent and Ron Hextall. Jeff Hackett, who only played briefly in Philadelphia, is the fourth.
Elliott becomes the 77th goalie alltime to reach the 500 mark and just the 15th active netminder to do so.
>Friedman another unwanted guest
The Flyers put defenseman Mark Friedman on waivers a while back and he was picked up by the Penguins (remember, Ron Hextall is GM out there).
Apparently, there’s some bad blood between Friedman and his ex-mates. First, he got into a fight with Joel Farabee, which resulted in the Flyer player knocking the Penguin to the ice with a crushing right hand.
Then, as Friedman was lugging the puck into the Flyer end to score an empty-net goal to make it 6-3 near game’s end, Shayne Gostisbehere shoved Friedman crashing into the end boards, which nearly started a riot.
Something to keep an eye on whenever the Flyers play the Penguins from now on.
From Sean Couturier’s perspective, the Flyers didn’t come out with the same kind of push as Monday night when the home team took a 4-0 lead and cruised home from there.
“I think in the first period we just gave up like I said a pretty easy goal,’’ Couturier said. “It’s frustrating. Seems to be easy chances against, quality chances that we give up every night. Most nights I should say. Some nights we’re pretty good. Just got to be better.’’
Travis Konecny scored a goal to finish the season with 12 points in the series vs. Pittsburgh, the most by either team. . .The Flyers won the season series, 5-3. . .The Flyers play in Washington on Friday-Saturday, then close out their season with a “make-up’’ game against the Devils at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday.