The Pittsburgh Penguins might eventually win another game at home against the Philadelphia Flyers, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. The Pens dropped their seventh consecutive game to their cross-state rivals and five straight games at Consol Energy Center by losing a 4-1 decision on Wednesday night.
The game, as many against the Flyers have lately, started out promising for the Penguins. Captain Sidney Crosby collected the rebound of a Patric Hornqvist shot and chipped it past the outstretched glove of Flyers goaltender Steve Mason. The goal was Crosby’s 300th in his career. Ian Cole earned the second assist.
The Penguins defense, playing with only five men due to injuries to Christian Ehrhoff and Kris Letang, had a hard time dealing with the consistent pressure of the Flyers, who outshot the Penguins 15-7 in the opening period.
At 17:14 of the first, Vincent Lacavalier scored his eight goal of the season off his own rebound on a play that started with a Pierre-Edouard Bellemare faceoff win in the Penguins zone to the left of Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Flyers would continue to dominate the puck in the second period, and the Penguins didn’t do themselves any favors, taking four consecutive penalties. At 12:43, just after the Penguins looked like they had some offensive life, a poor back-checking effort left Brayden Schenn alone in the slot and he beat Fleury to give the Flyers the lead. Brandon Manning and Sean Couturier assisted on the play.
The back-breaker would come just 49 seconds into the third period. With Steve Downie in the box for tripping, the Flyers power play zipped a tic-tac-toe passing play from Mark Streit to Jackub Voracek to a wide-open Brayden Schenn, who tapped in his second of the game.
The Flyers added an insurance goal at 5:34 of the third when the puck popped loose from a mad scramble in front of the Penguins net and landed right on the tape of Philadelphia defenseman Carol Colaiacovo, who deposited it behind Fleury to score his first goal of the season and seal the win for the Flyer.
For the Penguins, the bad news doesn’t stop at the loss. Before the game, it was announced that center Evgeni Malkin would be a late scratch. Malkin had missed Tuesday’s practice with what assistant coach Gary Agnew described as a “maintenance day.” He did not participate in the team’s optional game-day skate Tuesday morning.
After the game, head coach Mike Johnston announced that Malkin was dealing with a “slight injury” and would be out for a few days.
With the Penguins playing a man short, they will be able to make a cap-free emergency recall from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in advance of Saturday’s game in Columbus.
The most likely candidate to be brought up is defenseman Taylor Chorney. Chorney was held out of the Wilkes-Barre lineup on Wednesday night as a precaution, and is expected to be called up later this week.
Photo credit: NHL