Flyers-Penguins: Postgame Review
It's been an insane week for the Flyers as an organization. The team did not have any management in Pittsburgh for Saturday's game as the search for a new GM continues at home.
In Pittsburgh, though, the Flyers had one of their better wins of the season. It wasn't a pretty win, but between Anthony Stolarz's strong play in net and contributions up and down the lineup, the Flyers managed to hold off the Penguins and steal a win in a time when nothing is coming easy and emotions are certainly high.
Let's break it down in our Postgame Review.
- Anthony Stolarz - Stolarz was given a second straight start after taking the loss late on Tuesday. He got his first win since April 2017.
It wasn't just that Stolarz got the win, it was how he did it. The Flyers have been looking for the big save from their goaltender on multiple occasions this season, the stop that may be the difference between a win and a loss. They got more than just one from Stolarz, who had to be especially sharp in this one.
If Stolarz was able to earn another start following Tuesday's game, he should have easily earned the decision next Thursday against Columbus. He faced odd-man rushes, net-mouth scrambles, quality chances from the slot. And he just kept coming up with the big save when it was needed, especially in the third period.
This was a 30-save performance for Stolarz and so much of this win is his responsibility. The Flyers, for now, should roll with him, because he was sharp, remained calm and composed, and kept stepping up with the big saves when needed most.
- Dale Weise - He may only have two goals this season, but man, are they timely. His first was a breakaway goal against the Coyotes late in regulation that forced overtime back on Nov. 8. This time, he scored a shorthanded goal on a breakaway early in the third and it proved to be the game-winning goal.
Dale Weise was back on the fourth line and penalty kill for this game. He's been a solid fit in the fourth-line role all season. In this case, he managed to score a big goal at a crucial time.
The Penguins had scored the first goal of the game and took a 2-1 lead briefly in the second. The Flyers could have easily surrendered a goal early in the third with the Penguins on a power play. Instead, the Flyers scored on the Penguins only chance on the man advantage.
Weise had the finish, but the set-up by Scott Laughton was even better. Laughton's been great on the PK all season and it's been great over the last two games to see a more aggressive approach from the Flyers when facing shorthanded situations. It certainly helped against a high-powered power play like Pittsburgh's.
- Andrew MacDonald - Say what you will about him, but Andrew MacDonald was one of the Flyers best defensemen in this game. When your top defensemen aren't playing up to par, sometimes you need someone else to step up. MacDonald certainly did in this case.
MacDonald also got rewarded on the scoresheet with three assists, all secondary. He made a great play at the blue line to pick up the second on Claude Giroux's goal. He also helped set up Laughton for the outlet pass and Robert Hagg for another on the Flyers first goal by Travis Konecny.
Those two goals were highlighted by the outlet passes, so MacDonald's part gets overshadowed. The typical case with defensemen is that the more you notice them, the more likely it's not a good game for them. MacDonald was noticeable for all the right reasons on this night.
- The Provorov-Ghost Pairing - The Flyers eventually broke from this pairing in the second period, but at the start it was apparent that reuniting Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere wasn't working.
Provorov made a bad pinch seconds into the game that gave the Penguins a two-on-one. Sidney Crosby scored at the end of that. The pair was on the ice again for Riley Sheahan's goal, allowing the forward to walk in on goal, pick his spot and score.
Gostisbehere has struggled defensively all season, with some of his play showing shades of his rookie year. It feels like all season, something just hasn't been right with Provorov. It's not physical. Provorov is certainly one of the players who is mentally fragile at the moment.
It's been a trying week for everyone in the organization. There have been a lot of changes to the organization and they are certainly being felt in the locker room. This is probably as much adversity as Provorov or Gostisbehere have had to go through in their careers. It's not an excuse, but players react differently to things, especially ones who take on a lot of responsibility. These two certainly fit that description.
It doesn't excuse what was happening on the ice. Provorov has struggled all season, but this may have been his worst game of the season. Gostisbehere's struggles in his own zone continued and he hasn't made up for them with the offensive production that you come to expect. It was even more noticeable with the two together on a pairing.
- Win a Period, Win a Game - Back in April, the Flyers were faced with this same situation in Game 6. Win the period, extend your season.
In a regular season game, it holds a little less meaning, but the Flyers had the same task in front of them: win a period, win a game. The Flyers did just that.
The Penguins had their chances in the third, but when you get your goalie to step up, you get a shorthanded goal from a role player and you start to frustrate the opposition, it sometimes works in your favor.
The Flyers battled for this win for sure, and the effort can replicate into more wins. The Flyers would certainly like to not give up a goal 39 seconds into the game and not fall behind again 2-1 or give up so many odd-man rushes and grade-A chances, but a strong team win can build some confidence. Maybe this is the win, a win against a cross-state divisional rival, that the Flyers need to start a string of success.
By the Numbers
Stat of the Game
Travis Konecny remains a catalyst for the Flyers. He played 15:09, scoring a goal, taking three shots and tied for the team lead in hits with five. He also blocked a shot and had two takeaways.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.