Before coming home to their fans, Flyers let one slip away as Penguins take series


The Flyers will see their fans for the first time in just shy of a year when they return home from a five-game road trip.

They should be hungry after losing two of three games in Pittsburgh, with the rubber match ripped from their fingertips Saturday as the Penguins handed the Flyers a 4-3 loss at PPG Paints Arena.

The Flyers (12-6-3) could not hold a 3-2 advantage Saturday and they never led at any intermission throughout the series.

The Penguins (13-9-1) received some clutch secondary goal-scoring when it mattered most. Sidney Crosby (two assists), Evgeni Malkin (one goal, one assist), Jake Guentzel (two assists) and Bryan Rust (one goal) also had big games.

Pittsburgh drew even with the Flyers in the points column, but the Flyers do have two games in hand.

• The Flyers allowed two preventable goals in coughing up the 3-2 lead. It cost them the series.

"They made us pay on a couple of our mistakes," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said postgame. "We were right there but we made one mistake too many that cost us the game."

Zach Aston-Reese scored Pittsburgh's equalizer with just 1:50 left in the second period on a shot from the side angle. Aston-Reese appeared to sling the puck in hopes of just getting it on net but it found a way past Brian Elliott.

Elliott will probably want that one back.

The Penguins' game-winning goal came with the Flyers' forwards deep in the offensive zone. It looked like the Flyers then got caught in a bad line change as Pittsburgh rushed the other way. What turned into a 3-on-2 was finished by Jared McCann with a rebound goal as Justin Braun and Ivan Provorov were in defense.

"It was just a bad change on our part," Vigneault said. "Our forwards, I'm thinking they thought it was a 2-on-2, [the Penguins] changed quicker than we did. We should have had at least one forward come back, help out our D on that even-man rush. All three forwards came to the bench and it ended up in the back of our net."

• After missing Thursday's game and Friday's practice, Joel Farabee returned to the lineup Saturday in place of Connor Bunnaman. Farabee, who had a two-day stint on the NHL's COVID protocol list, went scoreless in 17:47 minutes.

Sean Couturier had his eight-game point streak halted. His top line with Farabee and James van Riemsdyk had been seriously cooking before going scoreless Saturday.

• Nolan Patrick had a quality screen on Kevin Hayes' second-period power play goal, which brought the Flyers even at 2-2.

Patrick went scoreless for a 14th straight game, a stretch that might be wearing on him. However, the screen was effective and helped produce a goal. Those little things are notable and Claude Giroux made sure the 22-year-old knew it.

• The Flyers' penalty kill went 1 for 3 and surrendered the Penguins' first two goals.

The PK was vastly improved last season after it had been a pain point over the previous five seasons.

This season, though, it has been more of an issue again. The club's PK entered the game tied for 27th in the league and has now allowed 20 power play goals over 21 games.

• You can bet the Flyers strategically set this up for Carter Hart to start Sunday at home with fans in the arena.

The 22-year-old goalie loves playing at the Wells Fargo Center and is 34-13-5 with a 2.32 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in his career at home.

Elliott, who entered 6-1-0 with a 2.15 goals-against average and .926 save percentage, split the final two games of the set in Pittsburgh. He had 23 saves on 27 shots Saturday.

Pittsburgh goalie Tristan Jarry went 2-1-0 in the series but has allowed 18 goals on 132 shots in five games against the Flyers this season. He converted 19 saves Saturday and some of them were big ones.

• Travis Konecny has gotten up to speed a bit in his three games back after having not played since Feb. 7 because of a bout with the coronavirus.

Konecny had his second straight two-point game (one goal, one assist). Nine of Konecny's 12 points this season have come against the Penguins.

Getting him going was an important storyline in Pittsburgh with the team coming home.

• Shayne Gostisbehere gave the Flyers their 3-2 lead on a second-period missile.

Gostisbehere has three goals in the last six games after scoring five last season over 42 games.

• Michael Raffl took a shot to the hand and played only 6:16 minutes.

• The Flyers didn't seem too pleased with Mike Matheson's hit on Farabee in the second period. Both skaters were in a race for the puck, which left Farabee falling awkwardly into the boards.

The game then turned chippy. Farabee was fine and stayed in the game.

• With Philippe Myers out (undisclosed injury suffered in Thursday's game), 34-year-old veteran Nate Prosser was recalled from the taxi squad and entered the lineup.

Erik Gustafsson saw a rather damning healthy scratch. The decision to turn to Prosser was likely heavily based on the matchup. The Flyers were facing the rubber match of a three-game series that had become physical and tightly checked. Given Myers kills penalties, Prosser's ability on the PK undoubtedly came into the equation.

But Gustafsson, the team's one-year, $3 million offseason acquisition, still sat for a fourth straight game with a defenseman already out of the lineup. Can't be a good sign for Gustafsson, who is in a fight for playing time.

• Mark Friedman did not play for the Penguins after he was forced to exit Thursday's game in the second period following a physical play with Patrick.

• The Flyers will welcome fans back to the Wells Fargo Center for the first time in nearly a year when they host the Capitals on Sunday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP). More on that here via the Flyers Talk podcast.

"We're really excited to have them back," Farabee said. "It's really nice to feel their energy, it really helps us. We're looking forward to it and hopefully they're ready, too."

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