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Flyers hurt by key injuries in first-round loss to Penguins

Couturier, Provorov at less than full strength, special-teams struggles costly

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

The Philadelphia Flyers managed to deal with adversity all season, but their final task was too much to overcome.

The Flyers made the Stanley Cup Playoffs despite a 10-game losing streak (0-5-5) from Nov. 11-Dec. 2, winning their final two games of the regular season to clinch a postseason berth. They fell behind 3-1 in the Eastern Conference First Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins before winning 4-2 in Game 5 to force Game 6, which they lost 8-5 on Sunday.

"The boys stuck together and played for each other all year, and that's why we were here in the playoffs," defenseman Ivan Provorov said. "No people believed in us that we would be here and [would] be able to play good hockey against Pittsburgh, so [I'm] just very proud of this team."


[RELATED: Complete Penguins vs. Flyers series coverage]


Here are 5 reasons the Flyers were eliminated:


1. Key injuries

Top-line center Sean Couturier missed Game 4 (a 5-0 loss) because of a torn MCL in his right knee. He returned and scored the game-winning goal in Game 5 and had five points (three goals, two assists) in Game 6.

Provorov played Game 6 despite an injury to his left shoulder that limited his effectiveness. He led them in postseason ice time at 24:52 per game and was matched against Penguins star Sidney Crosby all series.

Video: PIT@PHI, Gm6: Couturier pots second playoff hat trick

"It's playoffs," said goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who didn't dress until Game 4 because of a lower-body injury. "Everyone's hurting right now. It's same for both teams."


2. Lack of scoring depth

Couturier scored 31 goals during the regular season; he was one of five Flyers with 20 or more. But he was the only one to score more than one goal against the Penguins.

Claude Giroux, who was second in the NHL during the regular season with 102 points (34 goals, 68 assists), had three points (one goal, two assists) in the series.

Wayne Simmonds (24 goals), Travis Konecny (20) and Jakub Voracek (20) combined for one goal, by Konecny in Game 2.


3. Special-teams struggles

They were shorthanded 25 times in six games, which overexposed a penalty-killing unit that was 29th in the League during the regular season (79.8 percent). The Penguins went 5-for-25 (20.0 percent) on the power play.

The Flyers were 2-for-21 (9.5 percent) on the power play. They were 0-for-13 in their three home games, including 0-for-3 in Game 6.


4. Giving up goals in spurts

The Flyers allowed the Penguins to score goals in bunches throughout the series.

In Game 1, they allowed two goals in 4:02 in the first period to turn a 1-0 game into a 3-0 hole, then allowed two goals in 1:11 to fall behind 5-0. In Game 3, the Penguins scored three goals in a 4:05 span in the second period, including two in a playoff record-tying five seconds, that turned a 1-0 game into a 4-0 game. In the second period of Game 5, the Penguins doubled their lead from 2-0 to 4-0 in 2:52.

In Game 6, the Penguins scored twice in 47 seconds in the first period to take a 2-1 lead, twice in 1:24 to go from trailing 4-3 late in the second period to leading 5-4 at 30 seconds of the third period, and twice in 10 seconds midway through the third to make it 7-4.

Video: PIT@PHI, Gm6: Guentzel pots two 10 seconds apart

"They're that type of team where you give them one chance and they'll make you pay," Couturier said. "I don't think they outplayed us. They got their chances, they capitalized on them."


5. No home-ice advantage

They lost their three home games in the series by a combined score of 18-6, including 10-1 in Games 3 and 4.

"We come home and we had a few guys that instead of going out and being confident, just going out and playing, we had our own shackles on in Games 3 and 4 here," coach Dave Hakstol said. "… There's been a lot of talk, we're tight to play at home, we're this, we're that. We weren't. Our guys couldn't wait to get back here, go out and play a full 60 minutes and push this thing back to a Game 7. Ultimately we came up short of that full 60 minutes."



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