The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 5-2 on Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena. The cross-state rivalry did not disappoint, and for the first time this season, was played in front of 2,800 lucky Pens fans. Tristan Jarry was stellar in goal for the Pens and continues to show that his early-season struggles were simply just rust that needed to be shaken.
Bryan Rust spoke about finally having fans back in the building, “It was nice. Even just going out there in warmups and seeing how many people were already there, and then coming out there for the first, it was definitely a welcome change for sure.”
Captain Sidney Crosby was unavailable for the game after being placed on the reserve/Covid-19 list. Assistant Coach Todd Reirden was also absent from the bench for the same reason. Josh Currie was recalled to fill the vacancy and centered the fourth line, while Evgeni Malkin took over the top-line role alongside Guentzel and Rust. Additionally, Mark Friedman made his Penguins debut on defense after being claimed on waivers from the Flyers earlier this week. He was a plus-2 and recorded an assist against the team that drafted him.
The first period was uneventful for the Pens, and Jarry was busy early, but ultimately stood tall to stop all 14 Flyers shots in the first period.
The second period saw the game break wide open with Joel Farabee opening the scoring for the Flyers just two minutes into the period after a slick passing play with Sean Couturier sent the Pens defense into a scrambling frenzy. However, just over a minute later, Kasperi Kapanen scored his fourth goal of the season. The Finnish-forward intercepted the puck at his own blueline and showed off his great speed and hands to score a gorgeous breakaway goal, faking out Carter Hart before sliding the puck five-hole. The former first-round pick of the Pens was not done there. At 8:51 of the period he finished off a beautiful passing play that involved every player on the powerplay, but only Guentzel and Rust were credited with the assists. Under two minutes later, Bryan Rust added a goal of his own, jamming away in from of the net for a rebound from a Kris Letang point-shot. His seventh goal of the year capped off a great period for the team.
Kapanen on his breakaway goal and who inspired the move, “The big guy himself (Spezza). I saw him do that, and I wanted to try it out. His was a lot nicer than mine, but I’m just happy that it went in. He actually texted me after the game and said to keep the move alive, which is fun to hear.”
The third period saw much of the same, as Jarry continued to hold his ground for the Pens allowing just a lone goal from Joel Farabee, his second of the game at the 11-minute mark. A rebound shot from the slot took several deflections before falling to the goal scorer. The Penguins were poised to put on a show for their small attendance and did just that yet again after an end-to-end passing play resulted in a Cody Ceci tap-in to make it a 4-2 game. Mike Matheson added an empty-netter at 16:06 to seal the victory for the team who had an outstanding performance, after coming off a rather disappointing game against the Islanders.
Two key positives for the Penguins are that Jarry was spectacular in goal and kept them in the game as he finished the night with a .952 save percentage. The Canadian-netminder’s play continues to trend in the right direction, and as his confidence grows, so does the teams’ morale. The other huge positive takeaway from the game is the team’s penalty-kill. Mike Sullivan stressed his disappointment in his team’s PK against the Islanders, and they went 5/5 against the Flyers, looking much sharper defensively.
“It’s a different feeling. Whenever you step on the ice and have them stand and cheer, I think that motivates us that much more. We love playing in Pittsburgh and we love playing in front of them.” said Jarry on playing in front of fans again.
The Penguins and Flyers will be back in action at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday night at 7 PM EST, where the Penguins will look to leapfrog their rivals in the standings.