PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – After building an early lead, the Pens collapsed as the Flyers scored 4 straight in a 4-3 win at PPG Paints Arena Thursday night.
Claude Giroux finished the avalanche tipping home a pass from Nicolas Aube-Kubel with just over two minutes to play.
“We just didn’t play the game hard enough or smart enough for the majority of the game,” said head coach Mike Sullivan. “When you get up that early in games, you have to continue to play hard. You got to continue to do the things that brought you success. I didn’t think we did that as a group.”
“We didn’t keep pressing,” said defenseman Kris Letang. “We came out of the gate pretty aggressive. Got rewarded. Let our foot off the gas for the rest of the game thinking we could get away with it. In this league there is too much talent in skill. A three goal lead especially early in the game is not safe.”
“Unfortunately they pushed back and we didn’t,” said captain Sidney Crosby. “We definitely can’t allow games like this to happen.”
The majority of the Flyers goals came right in front of Tristan Jarry, who stopped 31 fof 35 shots. It was a tough night for John Marino. He was on the ice for three of those goals.
“You’ve got to win the puck battles at the net,” Sullivan said. “I didn’t think we were good enough in front of our net tonight. I don’t think we spent enough time in the offensive zone to get to their net.”
“I think it’s just the mindset heading into games,” Letang said. “Tonight, we came out of the gates strong. We knew we had Sid back. Everybody was excited for it. We think it is going to be easy for the rest of the game. I would say it’s a mindset to stay hungry.”
“There are 50-some minutes we didn’t play to the level we can play.”
Sid the return
Captain Sidney Crosby returned after one game away being on the COVID-19 list. Assistant coach Todd Reirden also returned after a missed game on the same list.
NHL will not disclose any details for any player or coach given that designation.
Fastest of the season
No team has scored three goals faster this season than the 71 seconds it took for the Pens to build a 3-0 lead.
It started on a long shot from Letang where it appeared goalie Brian Elliott was growing concerned about Evgeni Malkin entering the paint. The puck continued in the air and eventually above Elliott’s right shoulder for a 1-0 lead at 2:46 gone in the first period
Former Flyer Mark Friedman’s hustle would be rewarded after a Crosby shot on a 2-on-1 kicked out to him. He buried it 5-hole for a 2-0 lead at 3:20.
On a cross-ice pass from Kasperi Kapenen towards the net, Jared McCann dove parallel to the goal line was able to get a stick on it and past the goalie. 3-0 Pens at 3:57.
Friedman shaken up
Friedman would try to account for Nolan Patrick’s boarding of him in the first by lining him up for a clean check. Unfortunately for the 5’11” Friedman, the 6’2” Patrick saw him coming at the last minute. Patrick prepared for the hit. It was Friedman who crashed to the ice. The Pens D-man lost his balance getting up and slowly made his way off the ice.
In his second game with the Pens, Friedman did not return. Sullivan did not have an update to his status.
The rubber game against the Flyers at home on Saturday at 1p. Pens are fifth in the MassMutual East Division with 25 points. A pair behind Boston and the Flyers with each team having two games in hand on the Pens.