The good news? Despite not really having their best game, the Pens had a powerplay, down 3-2, with under 4 minutes to go.
The bad news? Everything that you didn't want to happen…happened. Double J scored. And so did Max Talbot, who potted the empty-netter. It was like July 1st all over again and again and again.
Props to whoever was at CONSOL last night for making it probably the loudest the young barn has ever been. Jagr's goal sucked the life out of the building, but TK's goal in the third brought the place back to life.
And did the Pens show up last night? Yeah, they did. But Philadelphia just simply knows how to play against Dan Bylsma's system. Hell, they even spotted the Pens a 1-0 lead. It's a troubling pattern that the Pens are unable to consistently beat upper-echelon teams like the Flyers, Rangers, or Bruins. We've been of the idea that Pens fans should take a step back and not analyze every little thing given that Crosby is nowhere in sight. But it's getting to the point where we may have to come to terms with the idea that Crosby won't be coming back this season. In that case, it's time to dig in.
Only one game left in this miserable calendar year. A matinee job on New Year's Eve day, Saturday, 3:00 against the Devils.
The Penguins needed a fast start, and that is what they got. TK made a nice pass to Jordan Staal. Staal buried it past Bobrovsky 44 seconds in. 1-0.
Huge goal. The place erupted.
Then Hartnell started melting down and took a penalty a minute later.
The first period was absolutely vicious. Scott Hartnell was hounding Malkin like Ovechkin used to do a couple years back. Hartnell almost killed Malkin. It was reminiscent of what Colby Armstrong used to do. And we remembered this hit Kunitz laid on Timonen a couple years ago:
The Pens lost their cool for a little bit. They took three penalties in the first period.
The Flyers took advantage on a powerplay after a James Neal trip. Kimmo Timonen ripped one past MAF. Giroux with the assist. 1-1.
The Pens had a two power plays of their own in the first, but they did shit with them. Pens just looked off.
Jagr was lurking all period. He and Giroux have insane chemistry. Probably the best chemistry of any line we've seen all season.
Talbot was acknowledged with a Welcome Back video. Huge goals.
The Flyers started to take control. The crowd was pretty much out of the game, and then good ol' Double J hushed the place up.
Jagr took a Giroux pass and went backhand high glove on MAF. And then he did this:
Really a terrible moment for a lot of people's childhoods. 2-1.
The Jagr goal gave the Flyers a jump. It is what big-time players do. Malkin's been doing it all season. About 10 minutes after the Jagr goal, Matt Read scored off a circa-2007 MAF rebound to make it 3-1.
Pens were just wandering. They were down 3-1 with 3:00 left in the second. For the rest of the second and basically the entire third, the Pens refused to adjust their game. Hell, they were still trapping up the neutral zone. If you're losing, you need to sustain puck possession. You're not going to score if you don't have the puck. Simple logic to understand. Time and again, we were forced to watch a Pens D-man chip it along the boards to center ice where, in turn, a Pens forward would chip it all the way behind the Flyers' net. Overrrr and overrr again. Pretty sure there was a point where Timonen was just standing back there waiting for the puck.
Brooks Orpik popped Jagr late in the third. That gave the Pens come juice, but RobRossky was locked in.
ROOT Sports showed us Jagr's pregame workout:
thanks to Paul M. for the gif.
A few chances for the Pens here and there, but the Flyers were dominating play. The Pens were getting to thei— No. The Flyers were just picking up the puck on the boards and had set plays for breakouts. The Pens' system relies on forwards winning one-on-one battles. Then, when the Pens are trying to rally from behind, they'll try to win two-on-one battles. The opposing team simply has to chip it away fast enough, and the pressure is gone. The only person allowed to carry it into the zone is Geno.
The phenomenon of officials not calling penalties committed against Matt Cooke reared its ugly head again in this game. Interesting subplot to the season.
While the refs refused to make any calls, time ticked down.
Malkin got called for a penalty, and the Pens killed it. Malkin gained the zone with possession and dished it over to Tyler Kennedy. TK comes in and blasts one past Bobradsfnal. 3-2.
All of a sudden the Pens were back in it. And then the stars aligned when the Flyers were caught with too many men.
Pens with a powerplay.
And it failed.
Just when we were trying to remember if we had heard boos throughout the night when Talbot was carrying the puck, he suddenly had the puck in his office (the neutral zone late in the game) and put home the nail in the coffin.
ROOT Sports broadcasts have almost turned unwatchable. Missed plays, bizarre camera angles, Paul Steigerwald. Tough.