Flyers rally to hand Penguins stunning, brutal loss

Flyers Penguins

Sometimes you can make too big of a deal out of one game.

It is easy to get caught up in the moment and overstate things in the immediate aftermath of a win or a loss.

But it may not be overstating things to suggest that the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night could end up having a pretty significant impact on the East Division playoff race.

Not only did the Flyers win in regulation, making it a four-point swing in the standings, but they did so while overcoming a 3-0 deficit against a team they are in direct competition with for one of the four playoff spots in the division.

Even before the puck dropped on Thursday this had the feel of a significant game. The two teams were tied in total points (with the Flyers having two games in hand) and any win in regulation was going to be a big shift in the standings. Given the games in hand situation it is one the Penguins probably needed more, and four minutes into the game it looked like they were well on their way to getting it thanks to three goals in a 71-second stretch to jump out to a commanding lead.

So what happened?

Instead of finishing the job, they went into a 56-minute shell, allowed Philadelphia to dictate the pace of the game, and slowly watched their lead evaporate until it was completely gone.

It was the same story they have been dealing with all season when they have struggled. Bad defensive zone play, careless play with the puck, and a power play unit that has completely sucked the life out of their games every time it hits the ice. Their two attempts at the man-advantage on Thursday perfectly captured the self-destructive force it has been all season.

Their first attempt came just a couple of minutes after Jared McCann scored to give the Penguins a 3-0 lead. It was an opportunity to build on their lead and bury an opponent that had clearly stumbled at the start.

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The Penguins responded by recording zero shots on goal, never getting set up, and never looking organized. Just a few minutes later the Flyers scored on their power play opportunity and the tide had officially shifted. Their second opportunity came in the third period when they were still ahead by a goal with a chance to add on some insurance, and it was just as futile. The Flyers tied it just a few minutes later, setting the stage for Claude Giroux‘s game-winning goal with less than three minutes to play.

Pittsburgh’s power play has the talent to be a game-changing force. But it’s only changed games in the wrong direction for them.

Their defensive zone coverage and puck management are big issues, and both hurt them on Thursday. But do not excuse the consistently bad power play.

Why this game matters so much

Yeah, it’s only one game. Yeah, the two teams play again on Saturday. But this game is so significant because of the nature of the shortened season and the playoff format. You don’t have as much time to make up ground. You are only playing against teams you are competing with directly for playoff spots. If you are the Penguins, entering that game in the position they did (out of a playoff spot), and jump out to a 3-0 lead against a team you are in close competition with, you absolutely can not come out of that game with zero points in the standings. You just can’t. You need something out of that.

When you look at the standings you see the Penguins sitting in fifth place, two points back of the Boston Bruins and Flyers.

That may not seem like a lot. It is one game. But keep in mind that the Penguins have already played two more games than both teams.

If you look at the current point projections you see just how much work the Penguins have to do to make up that ground.

That is a lot of ground.

If there is a positive development for the Penguins it is that they have already played the most challenging part of the schedule, and it concludes on Saturday with their next game against the Flyers.

The second half of their season features several games against the New York Rangers, as well as all of their games against the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres. So there is a chance to make some ground and collect points, assuming they can beat the teams they are supposed to beat. But as they approach the halfway point of their season they have quite an uphill fight sitting in front of them.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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    Sharks goalie James Reimer declines to wear Pride jersey

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    San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer didn’t take part in pregame warmups, saying the team’s decision to wear Pride-themed jerseys in support of the LGBTQ community runs counter to his religious beliefs.

    Reimer said in a statement Saturday that he made the decision based on his Christian beliefs, adding that he “always strived to treat everyone with respect” and that members of the LGBTQ community should be welcome in hockey.

    “In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions, which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in life,” Reimer said.

    Reimer is the second NHL player this season to refuse to take part in warmups with Pride-themed jerseys, with Philadelphia’s Ivan Provorov declining to in January. Reimer was not slated to start in Saturday night’s home game against the New York Islanders, which is Pride night.

    Additionally, the New York Rangers opted not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride stick tape as part of their night in January despite previously advertising that plan.

    The Sharks said in a statement that they are proud to host Pride Night, saying the event reinforces the team’s commitment to inclusiveness.

    “As we promote these standards, we also acknowledge and accept the rights of individuals to express themselves, including how or whether they choose to express their beliefs, regardless of the cause or topic,” the team said in a statement. “As an organization, we will not waver in our support of the LGBTQIA+ community and continue to encourage others to engage in active allyship.”

    The You Can Play Project, which works to promote inclusiveness in sports, said the organization was disappointed in Reimer’s actions.

    “Religion and respect are not in conflict with each other, and we are certainly disappointed when religion is used as a reason to not support our community,” the organization said. “Wearing pride jerseys, like any celebration jersey worn, is not about the personal feelings of an athlete; rather the communication from the team that a community is welcome in the arena and the sport.”

    Panarin, Shesterkin lead Rangers to 6-0 rout of Penguins

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    NEW YORK — Mika Zibanejad had a goal and two assists, Artemi Panarin scored twice and Igor Shesterkin made 33 saves as the New York Rangers routed Pittsburgh 6-0 on Saturday night for their second win over the Penguins in three days.

    Vladimir Tarasenko, Chris Kreider and Jacob Trouba also scored for the surging Rangers, who have won nine of their last 11 home games and are 12-4-0 in their past 16 at Madison Square Garden.

    Shesterkin won his fifth straight and posted his second shutout this season. He nimbly denied Pittsburgh forward Mikael Granland with a sprawling save five minutes into the third period to preserve the shutout, the 10th of his career. His other one this season was a 1-0 home win over Philadelphia on Nov. 1.

    “When you put in hard and honest work, miracles happen,” Shesterkin said through a translator. ”We played wonderfully today – scored many, many goals. Honestly, I hope the fans loved it. We’re playing for them.”

    The Penguins lost their third straight and trail the Rangers by 12 points for third place in the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh, still in wild-card position, is trying to reach the playoffs for the 17th straight time.

    “Tonight was a humbling experience for all of us,” coach Mike Sullivan said. ”At this time of year, you have to have a short memory. We still have control of our destiny.”

    Patrick Kane and defenseman K’Andre Miller also had two assists apiece as New York improved to 7-1-1 in its last nine home games against Pittsburgh. The Rangers are five points behind the second-place New Jersey Devils, who lost at Florida on Saturday.

    “This was a big game for our goalie and our team,” Panarin said. “If you work at playing the right way, you have opportunities for goals.”

    Since Dec. 5, when they turned around their season with a 6-4 comeback win at home over St. Louis, the Rangers are 29-9-5.

    As he did on Thursday when the Rangers beat the Penguins 4-2, Zibanejad opened the scoring. He got his team-leading 36th goal at 5:10 of the first, beating Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry. Trouba and Miller assisted.

    Panarin made it 2-0 at 19:49 on the power play, whipping the puck past Jarry from the left circle off a pass from Adam Fox.

    Tarasenko increased the lead at 3:54 of the second with his fifth goal since joining the Rangers in a trade with St. Louis on Feb. 9. Tarasenko has points in 10 of his first 18 games with the Rangers.

    Kreider made it 4-0 at 6:43 with his 31st goal and third in two games against the Penguins. Kane and Vincent Trocheck assisted on Kreider’s 260th career goal, which moved the Rangers forward within two of Vic Hadfield for fifth place on the franchise list.

    New York won Thursday when Kreider scored the go-ahead goal in the third and added an empty-netter.

    After Casey DeSmith replaced Jarry in net following Kreider’s goal, Trouba beat the replacement with a sharp-angle shot at 8:39 for his eighth to increase the margin to 5-0. Trouba has points in six of his last eight games.

    Panarin scored again at 16:38 of the second – his 22nd goal of the season – to make it 6-0, with assists to Kane and Filip Chytil.

    “We’re building chemistry, building every day and every game,” Kane said.

    Panarin has points in eight of his last 10 games and leads the Rangers with 77 points overall, while Kane has seven points in his last six games.

    “It’s nice to see that many great players on your team,” added Panarin, whose first two NHL seasons were played alongside Kane with the Chicago Blackhawks. “We’re happy tonight.”

    Zibanejad assisted on goals by Tarasenko and Trouba and has 25 points – including 14 goals – over his last 20 games.

    “It was just one of those nights when the puck goes in for us,” Zibanejad said. “And obviously Igor gives us a boost making all those saves.”

    NOTES: The Penguins were missing defenseman Jeff Petry after he was hit with an unpenalized elbow from Rangers forward Tyler Motte on Thursday. … Pittsburgh also scratched defenseman Jan Rutta and forward Dalton Heinen and played defenseman Mark Friedman for the first time since Feb. 11. … The Rangers were without injured defenseman Ryan Lindgren for the 10th straight game.


    Penguins: Host the Ottawa Senators on Monday.

    Rangers: Host the Nashville Predators on Sunday night.

    Coyotes sign Shane Doan’s son to entry-level contract

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    TEMPE, Ariz. — Josh Doan is following his father’s footsteps into professional hockey.

    The Arizona Coyotes signed the 21-year-old forward to a three-year entry-level contract, beginning with the 2023-24 NHL season. He will report to the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL and play his first game against the Calgary Wranglers.

    Doan’s father, Shane, played 21 seasons with the franchise, many of those as captain, and followed it from Winnipeg to the desert in 1996. Shane Doan now serves as Arizona’s chief hockey development officer.

    The Coyotes drafted Josh Doan in the second round of the 2021, but he opted to play for the hometown Arizona State Sun Devils.

    Josh Doan set school records for goals (12) and assists (25) as a freshman last season. He had 16 goals and 22 assists in 39 games with Arizona State this season.

    The 6-foot-1, 183-pounder also played two seasons for the Chicago Steel of the USHL.

    Blackhawks forward Cole Guttman has shoulder surgery

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    CHICAGO — Chicago Blackhawks forward Cole Guttman had surgery on his right shoulder.

    The team said the operation was performed in Los Angeles. Team physician Michael Terry said the 23-year-old Guttman is expected “to be out of hockey activities for approximately four months.”

    Guttman had been a pleasant surprise for rebuilding Chicago. He made his NHL debut last month and finished the season with four goals and two assists in 14 games.

    Guttman was selected by Tampa Bay in the 2017 draft. He agreed to a two-year contract with Chicago in August 2022 that had a $950,000 salary cap hit.