The first installment of 2013-14's version of the Battle of Pennsylvania did not go the way of the good guys tonight, as the Philadelphia Flyers were defeated by the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 4-1. Steve Mason continues his role as the Flyers' number one goalie this season, and got the start tonight against Marc-Andre Fleury. And once again, Mason played quite well, but saw more shots than the opposing team's goalie, which left him on the losing side of contest yet again. The Flyers had a strong third period, but were unable to put anything on the board. Ironically, the Penguins had a weak third period and were able to score twice. It's been that type of brutal season so far for the Flyers.
The Flyers played a relatively strong period to begin the game, keeping the Penguins' voracious offensive unit off the board. Against Pittsburgh's lethal power play, which was converting on 35% of chances so far this season, the Flyers killed off two penalties, and would even kill another one that lasted from the end of the first period into the early second period. The Flyers kept pace with the Penguins, and kept Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin away from the net. Steve Mason was forced to make a couple of flashy saves, and successfully kept Pittsburgh from scoring. Marc-Andre Fleury made a couple of impressive saves himself late in the period against a hungry Flyers offensive attack.
Things went wrong for the Flyers about halfway through the second period. After continuing their strong play early in the frame, the Flyers had some issues with simple fundamentals that led to the first Pittsburgh goal. Exactly halfway through the period, Kimmo Timonen, Brayden Schenn and others simply could not clear a puck out of the PIttsburgh zone, exhibiting very lackadasical and unintelligent play with the puck on multiple clearing attempts. Evgeni Malkin would take advantage and got the puck to Jussi Jokinen, who blasted a slap shot top shelf to beat Mason and put the Penguins on the board. Not even three minutes later, the Penguins added another one, on a play where the Flyers were back on their heels in their own zone. Chris Kunitz buried his third of the year to put Pittsburgh up 2-0.
However, right at the end of the period, Marc-Andre Fleury was called for interference, putting the Flyers on the power play. After going 0 for their last 18 in man-advantage situations, the Flyers finally cashed in with just two seconds remaining in the period, as Wayne Simmonds deflected a Claude Giroux shot for his first tally of the year, cutting the Penguins' lead to 2-1, and giving the Flyers some life heading into the final period. The Flyers still only mustered 13 shots on goal in two periods, while the Penguins tallied 29.
The Flyers had a golden opportunity to tie the game early in the third, as Brooks Orpik was sent to the box for hooking just seconds into the period. On the man advantage, Wayne Simmonds was robbed by Marc-Andre Fleury of his second goal on the night, as Simmonds had a clear shot from in tight, and Fleury simply beat him. The Flyers played a very strong period, generating chances and dominating the time in Pittsburgh's offensive zone. But they just couldn't light the lamp, no matter how hard they tried. To add insult to injury, a turnover at the end of the period while the Flyers were trying to generate a few final rushes quickly ended up on Sidney Crosby's stick who would make it 3-1, sealing the game for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin added an empty net goal with 12 seconds to play, making the score 4-1.
Tonight's game and Tuesday night's loss against the Vancouver Canucks had the Flyers generating more scoring chances and spending more time in the offensive zone than in the first several games. But when all was said and done, the Flyers still only tallied one goal. They fall to an absolutely horrible mark of 1-7-0, and are off to one of the worst starts in franchise history.
The last two games have showed some promise, but it's not easy to be optimistic after starting the season off losing 7 of 8 games, no matter how well they play. The fact of the matter is they are not winning. The firing of Peter Laviolette has not really made a difference, as Craig Berube is just 1-4 in his first five games. Goals are nearly non-existent, despite the team's somewhat more upbeat play as of late. The Flyers get a week to lick their wounds before playing again next Thursday, October 24th, against the New York Rangers.
Kimmo Timonen was injured at the end of the second period in tonight's game, and did not return. Timonen reportedly has a lower body injury.
Pittsburgh: 9:43 – Jussi Jokinen (4), Assisted by Evgeni Malkin (5)
Pittsburgh: 12:13 – Chris Kunitz (3), Assisted by Matt Niskanen (5) and Pascal Dupuis (5)
Pittsburgh: 17:28 – Sidney Crosby (6), Assisted by Pascal Dupuis (6)
Pittsburgh: 19:47 – EN: Evgeni Malkin (3), Assisted by Craig Adams (1) and Sidney Crosby (8)
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