The Pittsburgh Penguins suffered a defeat that was deeply painful from both short and long-term standpoints in the 2019 Stadium Series. About the only saving grace for the Penguins was that they earned a “charity point” in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. Injuries to Brian Dumoulin and Kris Letang only makes things uglier.
When the Penguins went up 3-1 as Brian Elliott whiffed on an ugly goal, it looked like Pittsburgh would run away with the game. In fact, with rain coming down, there were rumblings about the outdoor game being canceled altogether.
Instead, the Flyers managed a stunning comeback win. James van Riemsdyk made it 3-2 on the power play with about four minutes remaining in regulation, then Jakub Voracek found a way to send the contest to overtime with a tying goal with 20 seconds left in the third.
Elliott was able to redeem himself with some high-level saves during overtime, including a clutch stop against Phil Kessel on a semi-breakaway. Claude Giroux eventually beat Matt Murray five-hole for the overtime winner, leaving the Penguins absolutely stunned.
It looked like the Penguins would finish Saturday back in playoff position – tentatively – but instead remain behind Columbus, Montreal, and Carolina:
East bubble update:
Metro 3 – Blue Jackets: 35-23-3, 73 points, 35 regulation/overtime wins, 61 games played
Wild card 1: Canadiens: 33-22-7, 73 points, 31 ROW, 62 GP
Wild card 2: Hurricanes: 33-23-6, 72 points, 32 ROW, 62 GP
Ninth place: Penguins: 32-22-8, 72 points, 31 ROW, 62 GP
The closest things to good news are that the Canadiens lost (positive since Columbus and Carolina only added more pressure by winning, with the Blue Jackets loading up at the trade deadline), and that Pittsburgh at least gets that single standings point.
[It was a bad Saturday for Pittsburgh even before this loss.]
That’s not the sort of silver lining that will make this an easy pill to swallow, because the Penguins must cope with the possibility that they might have lost two key defensemen to injury.
Pittsburgh was forced to lean heavily on the likes of Jack Johnson from late in the first period and on, as both Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin were hurt and did not return after this violent exchange with Shayne Gostisbehere and Wayne Simmonds:
The Penguins didn’t provide injury updates regarding Letang and Dumoulin during the game, leaving dark clouds hanging over the team both literally and figuratively on that rainy night at Lincoln Financial Field.
After the game, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan announced that Dumoulin is dealing with a concussion, while Letang is being “evaluated” regarding an upper-body injury. Not good.
There’s a long road ahead still for the Penguins, while the Flyers are virtually out of the race, and possibly saying goodbye to Simmonds. If nothing else, the Flyers took advantage of a chance to hurt their hated rivals in ways big and small during this violent 2019 Stadium Series squabble.
More: Simmonds shakes off deadline talk.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.