Flyers destroy Penguins
The Philadelphia Flyers may be sitting outside of a playoff spot with little chance of sneaking in, but on Monday night they gave their fans a real treat by dominating their biggest rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins entered the contest full of confidence after an important win against the Washington Capitals over the weekend, but were caught slipping against the Flyers at Well Fargo Center in an embarrassing 7-2 loss.
The day started off with so much promise for Pittsburgh who announced prior to the game starting that Evgeni Malkin would be back in the lineup after missing a considerable amount of time with an injury. However, besides the return of Malkin there wasn’t much else to be positive about as the Penguins seemed to forget they had a game to play.
“I don’t think we were skating. I don’t think we were playing the game that we’ve played here for a long time that’s brought us success,” said Penguins’ head coach Mike Sullivan said following the defeat, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I didn’t envision us coming out and having this type of game. But this is the human aspect of sports and we’ve got to find a way to move past this.”
The Penguins may have been guilty of letting their foot off of the gas pedal against the Flyers after the win against Washington put them in first place in the very competitive East Division. However, Monday’s loss coupled with the Capitals victory over the New York Rangers on Monday night means they are back tied for first place with 71 points each.
“When we’ve had guys out of the lineup, you see how we play. We played tight as a five-man unit [and] with speed. We played a physical game,” Penguins’ defenseman Marcus Pettersson told reporters after the game. “As you saw this weekend [in Washington], when we play hard and we defend, we create our own offense. That’s something we’ve got to find our way back to.”
Despite the loss, having Malkin return to the lineup is a big bonus for the Penguins down the stretch as they have been without the superstar since March 16th when he suffered a knee injury against the Boston Bruins. The 34-year-old saw 14:07 of ice time, but was -3 on the night with one penalty and an assist on Sidney Crosby’s third period goal.
“[He] was good. He was good with the puck. He made some nice plays,” teammate Justin Zucker said of Malkin’s performance after the game. “I haven’t talked to him about how he was feeling but it’s always tough getting back into it after that much time off. He didn’t seem like he missed any time.”
The Penguins will be eager to put Monday’s loss behind them and prove that they are an elite team in the National Hockey League and a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. They have just three more regular season games to play before the playoffs begin and they cannot afford anymore performances like the one at Wells Fargo Center.