The Pittsburgh Penguins overcame a 3-0 deficit, but the Philadelphia Flyers pulled out a 5-4 win Friday night at Mellon Arena.
The Penguins (8-19-7) scored four-straight goals late in the second period and early in the third, but the Flyers (21-8-5) responded with two tallies 1:09 apart.
“We were right there. The first period, we didn’t give ourselves the chance to really compete,” Penguins rookie Sidney Crosby said. “The second two [periods], we were right there and I thought we carried most of the play. We can’t afford to have lapses like that or make mistakes like that. We’ve said it before, we have to play 60 minutes and play more sound. We made a couple of mistakes and they buried them.”
The loss was the 11th in 12 games for the Penguins.
“We’re not going to win many hockey games giving up four goals or five goals. I am disappointed about our defense. Those guys have to play better,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “It’s a matter of a lot of things. It’s not one thing, but they’ve got to play better. There’s not any hockey team that will have a chance to win if their defensemen are not on top of their game. Right now, that defensive group is not on top of their game. This is one of the biggest reasons why we lose games. We are able to score some goals. Is it a lack of concentration, is it a lack of will for us, is it a lack of skill? I don’t know. It’s tough to answer, but the defensive group has got to be sharper.”
Simon Gagne and Peter Forsberg scored goals to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead in the first period.
“Our bad start – it’s a matter of confidence,” Therrien said. “When a team doesn’t have the confidence like we don’t right now…eventually, I hope the confidence will be there. That will help us.”
Gagne ripped a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury 5:34 into the game for a power-play goal.
Forsberg pushed Philadelphia’s lead to 2-0 when he deflected a shot from the near point past Fleury at 11:01.
Dennis Seidenberg gave the Flyers a 3-0 edge 3:32 into the second period when he one-timed a Forsberg pass into the net for a power-play goal.
“We started in a bit of a hole and had a lot of penalty trouble early on,” Crosby said. “When you do that, you’re not giving yourself momentum.”
Tomas Surovy got the Penguins on the scoreboard with 9:42 to play in the second period. Pinned along the far boards, Crosby maintained possession of the puck and skated behind the Flyers goal. He slipped a pass to Surovy in front of the post and he one-timed it into the goal. Ziggy Palffy earned the other assist.
Erik Christensen tallied a power-play goal with 4:02 left in the period to cut Pittsburgh’s deficit to 3-2. He skated from the far half-boards to the top of the circle and unleashed a wrister past Antero Niittymaki. Mark Recchi and Michel Ouellet had the assists.
Crosby responded with two goals 44 seconds apart in the third period to give the Penguins a 4-3 lead.
“Seeing the focus on everyone, I think, pushed a lot of guys – including me,” Crosby said. “There’s a good energy right now and I think we’re all feeding off each other. We’re all out there competing for each other.”
Crosby tied the game at 3-all 1:43 into the third. Streaking down the left wing, he deked once and ripped a shot past Niittymaki. Palffy and Ric Jackman earned assists.
Crosby gave the Penguins a 4-3 lead 44 seconds later. He skated into the near Flyers zone and backhanded a shot past Niittymaki. Brooks Orpik and Christensen had assists.
However, Philadelphia regained control when Forsberg ripped a shot past Fleury at 15:27 and Mike Knuble added another goal at 16:36.
“We were all rolling as a team in the last two periods. I think we were feeding off each other and we were all pushing to try to complete the comeback and get a win,” Crosby said. “We weren’t happy to go out there and try to tie it – we wanted to win. Unfortunately, the last five minutes wasn’t the greatest. We have a lot of guys who are learning, too. We have to continue to play like that and play hard and things are going to go our way.”
Fleury stopped 27 of 32 shots, while Niittymaki blocked 22 of 26 saves.
The Penguins are off until Tuesday when Toronto visits Mellon Arena.
ICE CHIPS: Eric Boguniecki, Dick Tarnstrom, Mario Lemieux and Ryan VandenBussche were the Penguins’ scratches…Branko Radivojevic, Turner Stevenson and Robert Esche were Philadelphia’s scratches…The contest marked the first of 11-straight road battles for the Flyers, the longest road trip in franchise history…Philadelphia’s Ben Eager and Pittsburgh’s Matt Murley fought 4:37 into the second period. Murley appeared to injure his shoulder and skated to the locker room…The attendance was 17,132…The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Penguins posted a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Phantoms.