Flyers
Robert Hägg and Shayne Gostisbehere both lit the lamp in the Flyers dominant 7-2 victory over the Penguins Monday night. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Where has this team been all season? The Philadelphia Flyers WIN, 7-2, over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Pride Night at the Wells Fargo Center. That score is not a typo. The Flyers just straight up schooled one of the East’s top teams in the type of game we thought we would see often from them this season. It looked more like the last Pens-Flyers game in Philly than the majority of the ones that separated it.

The Penguins came into this game expecting to win, probably easily. After all, the Flyers came in with three straight regulation losses to the lowly Devils. Pittsburgh arrived in enemy territory with six wins in their last seven, and with Evgeni Malkin playing for the first time since March 16. And it was a beatdown. Just not in favor of who you thought it would be.

From the beginning, it was clear this would not be the same boring, low-offense game the Devils trapped the Flyers into over the past week. Both teams came out of the gates absolutely flying, and to their credit, the goalies were up to the task… or so it seemed. Casey DeSmith and Alex Lyon made some solid saves before the first TV timeout, but the crowning jewel was a diving glove stop by DeSmith on Kevin Hayes that seemed too good to be true. Turns out it was. Hayes’ shot crossed the goal-line before DeSmith could snatch it away, and a review during the aforementioned TV break officially gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead.

Philadelphia pulled off some of the same theatrics as DeSmith in the first, but they were successful in keeping the puck out of the net. Alex Lyon stopped a shot so hard it knocked his stick out of his hands, but that was ok because it allowed him to lunge back with his blocker and paw the puck off the goal-line. Shayne Gostisbehere nearly tipped in an own goal moments later, but dove back and saved the day at the last second. And like Yegor Sharangovich on Saturday, Ghost followed up a near own-goal with a goal for the correct team, firing a slap-shot past DeSmith through heavy traffic on the power-play.

The weird bounces didn’t stop there. Whether he meant to do it or not, Travis Konecny one-touched the puck off the side of the net, banking into the slot. With two Penguins below the goal-line, Claude Giroux easily stepped into the slot and buried it, giving the Flyers a 3-0 lead. In the first period. Is that even legal? I wouldn’t believe so if it hadn’t already happened this season. And while there was an element of luck in each of the three Flyers goals, this wasn’t a smoke-and-mirrors success story. Philadelphia held a significant edge in possession numbers (61.11% Corsi, 58.07% xG at 5-on-5, score and venue adjusted) and drew the only two penalties of the first. Good things usually happen with numbers like those, and in the opening twenty minutes, they did in spades.

And it didn’t stop there. Travis Konecny hit the post on a backdoor feed from Giroux within the frame’s first minute, showing the Flyers wouldn’t go away. Shayne Gostisbehere hit Scott Laughton with an outstanding stretch pass. Mark Friedman got back to prevent a Laughton breakaway, but Laughton just dropped it back into the wheelhouse of Wade Allison. The Wade Brigade becomes alive and well once again, as Allison buries NHL goal number two to make it a 4-0 score. Philadelphia held a bonkers 37-22 shots on goal advantage at the period’s end. And their underlying numbers actually improved (75.44% Corsi, 81.62% xGA), with Allison’s goal the only one of the middle stanza.

Alex Lyon’s shutout bid ultimately ended a few minutes into the third, and it was all thanks to Sidney Crosby. Crosby started the play with an impressive zone entry, then ended with an impressive one-touch redirect from an almost impossible angle to beat Lyon and the Flyers PK. In fact, Philadelphia really tried their hardest to let the Penguins into the game by spending 5:34 of the first 8:24 of the period short-handed (three minors taken in the first 6:28 of the 3rd, plus one with 0:46 left in the 2nd). With four seconds left in the fourth penalty, Jason Zucker deflected in a John Marino, loosening the Flyers’ grip on the game.

This game was score or be scored on all night, and before the Penguins could really make the crowd sweat, the Flyers struck back. Jake Voracek made a nice play along the right boards, moving the puck down low for a non-traditional 2-on-1. Joel Farabee made a nifty move around the back-checking Bryan Rust and put the puck around Tristan Jarry (who replaced DeSmith at the start of the third). It was sweet revenge for the Beezer; he was in the box for the Zucker goal on a sketchy goalie interference call.

Add in a long-range Giroux empty netter, and you have the Flyers first legitimate great game in a while. It actually didn’t end the onslaught; Robert Hägg joined the fun with a slick one-timer from the slot on a nice feed from Farabee. Tonight ties a season-high in goals with the Flyers’ final game pre-COVID outbreak. They set a club record for 33 straight games without winning by more than a goal (the previous record was 18) that mercifully ended tonight. Too little, too late? Absolutely. But better late than never. Soak it in, everybody; we all needed a night like this. We deserved it. And thankfully, we received it.

Lindies

In the last Battle of Pennsylvania, Sidney Crosby passed Mike Gartner for sole possession of 3rd-most goals scored against the Flyers. Tonight, he tied Jaromir Jagr with his 47th (at least Jagr potted 19 for the Flyers in 2011-12). Mario Lemieux is first with 51. And Crosby is just 5 points back of Bryan Trottier (117) for third all-time against the Flyers. Crosby’s within striking distance to take sole possession of first possibly as soon as next season. Reverse jinxing, don’t fail me now!

Cam York returned to the Phantoms lineup yesterday after a brief absence due to injury. Hopefully, that means he’s back in line for a call-up during this final week.

Tonight’s the first game the Flyers have led 3-0 after twenty since March 1, 2020. They won that game 5-3 over the Rangers.

In what might be the most bizarre part of the Flyers season (and that’s saying something), Mark Friedman’s only three games since as a Penguin since being claimed off waivers on February 24 have all come against the Flyers. He missed 22 games after an injury in game two on a hit by Nolan Patrick; though he’s also been a healthy scratch lately before dressing tonight.

Happy birthday to legendary Flyers goaltender, slightly less legendary Flyers GM, and Penguins GM (boo) Ron Hextall. Remember, he drafted three of the Flyers’ goal scorers tonight (Ghost, Allison, and Farabee).

In fact, Ghost’s goal (his 60th) passed Behn Wilson for the fourth-most ever by a Flyers defenseman. It’s not a surprise it came in this type of situation; the Penguins are 30th in the NHL in PK% on the road at just 68.1%. Even the Flyers are better than them! Barely (70.1%, 29th), but still.

Jake Voracek also passed Rod Brind’Amour for sole possession of 10th all-time in Flyers scoring with point #602. He got it with an assist on the Hayes goal, then earned #603 later in the night on the Farabee tally.

Great games tonight for Shayne Gostisbehere and Travis Konecny. Ghost made some incredible defensive plays, and of course his PPG in the first period was huge. TK didn’t score a goal, but recorded two assists and was buzzing all night long. They were two of the Flyers best players tonight from start to finish.

Super happy for Alex Lyon. This is his first NHL win since February 1, 2020 (I was there in-person), and it’s well-deserved. Lyon played tremendously, battling through traffic and making some athletic if not acrobatic stops. You could see the joy on his face during his post-game interview. I hope Lyon eventually establishes himself as a full-time NHL goalie (even if it probably won’t happen in Philly); he certainly deserves it.

As I mentioned, tonight was Pride Night at the Wells Fargo Center. Make sure to check out this great video the Flyers posted today. It talks about LGBTQ history and the Flyers’ involvement. It also includes Scott Laughton and James van Riemsdyk, the Flyers’ You Can Play Ambassadors. It’s also a reminder that even though hockey (and all sports, for that matter) should be for everyone, there are people who try to make others feel less welcome than they should, and that’s not ok. I promise this video is definitely worth the watch. Let’s all do our part moving forward to make hockey better for everyone involved.

3 Stars

3rd: Shayne Gostisbehere (PHI) – Goal (9), Assist (10), 3 Blocks

2nd: Claude Giroux (PHI) – 2 Goals (15, 16), Assist (23), 4 Shots, 79% Face-offs

1st: Alex Lyon (PHI) – .946 SV% (35 Saves/37 Shots), 2 GA on 2.89 xGA

Next

5/4, 7 PM – PIT vs. PHI

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