The Philadelphia Flyers certainly deserved a better fate on Monday. But try as you might in the NHL, what you deserve isn’t always what you get.
The Flyers will attest to that. They pelted Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray with 51 shots, including 28 in the second period — setting a franchise record — but had nothing to show for it after three periods.
The 24-year-old, two-time Stanley Cup winner was equal to the task in a 4-1 win, making stop after stop, especially during that second-period siege.
Pittsburgh’s win was a big one, snapping a four-game losing streak that had us here at PHT wondering if the Penguins were in danger missing the playoffs. The win will quell that thought for a moment
Flyers rookie netminder Carter Hart brought with him an eight-game winning streak into the game. A ninth straight would have set a record for the longest streak by a goalie before his 21sts birthday, but alas, he’ll have to share the spoils with former Quebec Nordiques goalie Jocelyn Thibault.
Hart was bound to lose at some point, but he had a .934 save percentage during the streak and shouldn’t have an issue bouncing back.
The Pens got Evgeni Malkin back after he missed five games with an upper-body injury. Malkin’s presence was felt in the second period after he set up Nick Bjugstad for his first in Pittsburgh threads.
But Malkin’s return to the lineup may be short-lived.
Late in the third period, Malkin took exception to a punch to the back of his head from Flyers forward Michael Raffl. Malkin lost his cool and swung his stick around at Raffl’s head, catching him up high.
Malkin was handed a match penalty.
The Flyers finally scored on the ensuing power play, with Jakub Voracek grabbing his 14th to end the shutout bid.
The game could have been different, too, after a second-period goal by Nolan Patrick was waved off after a quick whistle by the referee. The replay shows that the puck was still loose.
The Flyers continued their onslaught one the game resumed, but it was a definite miss and one that could have changed the complexion of the game.
Jake Guntzel and Kris Letang both scored in the third for Pittsburgh.
Letang’s was particularly noteworthy, despite it being a rolling puck that found the empty net. The goal was career marker No. 109, making him the top goal-scoring defenseman in franchise history, passing Paul Coffey.
Letang now holds Penguins defenseman records for games played, goals, assists, and points along with playoff games played, playoff goals, playoff assists and playoff points.