Flyers Stumble Out of the Gate; Drop Season Opener to Penguins
A slow start turned out to make all the difference for the Flyers.
Two quick goals by Pittsburgh in the first eight minutes of play put the Flyers in a deep enough hole to keep the host team out of the game. The early support was preserved by some great play from Marc Andre Fleury, and the Penguins went on to win, 3-1, to kick off the season.
“A disappointing start for sure," said Scott Hartnell, who had an assist in the loss. "I don’t know if you want to chalk it up to not playing for eight months or whatever, but we didn’t have any legs that first period."
Philadelphia started out very sloppy, getting out-played through the first 15 minutes of the game.
It only took less than five minutes for the Penguins to find twine. After receiving the winning draw, Matt Niskanen passed across the blue line to Paul Martin, who fired on net. Tyler Kennedy got his stick on the shot and it got past Ilya Bryzgalov for the 1-0 Penguins lead.
Pittsburgh struck again less than three minutes later. Another offensive zone draw lead to a goal by James Neal to make it 2-0 Pittsburgh.
It wasn't until the end of the period where the Flyers were able to find their legs. They controlled the last five minutes, getting scoring chances on Fleury but came up with nothing.
The momentum wasn't lost heading into the second period, and it was Claude Giroux who got Philadelphia on the board first. Giroux skated in on Fleury and squeezed the puck through his five hole to cut the Penguins lead in half.
After the goal, Fleury tightened up as Pittsburgh was able to preserve the lead through the remaining two periods. He stopped a total of 26 shots, including the last 20 he faced to preserve the win.
A lack of a preseason showed, especially with the special teams.
The Flyers had a total of five power plays, three in the first period alone. On their third attempt in the first, Philadelphia had Fleury beat, but Jake Voracek's shot found the pipe, ending their last chance of the first period.
"We had a chance there on a rebound, I think it went through his legs, and I didn’t see the replay so I don’t know if it hit a stick or a post or what," said Hartnell. "And G makes a great pass to Simmer back door and gets good wood on it, and misses the net. It’s a game of inches I guess, and we lost that battle tonight.”
Pittsburgh capitalized on two of their three power play opportunities. Kennedy's goal off the deflection in the first period set the tone of the game and Chris Kunitz's empty netter at the end of the game sealed things up.
Lost in the result was Bryzgalov's play. Though he would have preferred to get the win, his play was one of the focal points heading into today's game.
After letting up the two early goals, he tightened up to keep Philadelphia in the game. He stopped 24 shots on the night, playing a strong game overall.
"He looked like he has all week. He was very focused and strong," said head coach Peter Laviolette.