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Snap Shots: Flyers 4, Penguins 3

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

Thoughts, musings, and observations from the Penguins 4-3 loss against the Flyers at Lincoln Financial Field.

* This one hurts. Really hurts. 

When the puck dropped for the 2019 Stadium Series between the Penguins and Flyers at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field, Pittsburgh found itself on the outside of the playoffs and looking in.

The Pens had a 3-1 lead with a little over 3 minutes left in regulation. Philadelphia struck twice - including with 19.7 seconds left to tie the game - to force overtime. Then the Flyers completed the comeback by scoring the winning goal.  

The Pens desperately needed the 2 points tonight. They'll have to settle for 1. And they'll still find themselves on the outside looking in.

* The turning point of the game came when Matt Cullen was given a slashing penalty with 4:20 left to play. It was a call the veteran forward and his teammates didn't agree with.

"I was very, very, very surprised, yes," Cullen said when asked if he was surprised to be given a call. "It's a nothing play."

"Those slashes happen on every shift," Patric Hornqvist said.

The Flyers were able to pull goalie Brian Elliott for the 6-on-4 advantage, and the comeback started from there.

"They had that power play and it was a weak call, I thought," Justin Schultz said. "It gave them a chance and they got the one there."

* In the 24-48 hours prior to the puck dropping for the game there was a petrification of an eminent tsunami. While there certainly was rainfall, it didn't seem to have the detrimental effects on the game that the masses had anticipated. The NHL had several contingency plans in place if required, but thankfully no such plans were required.

* The biggest event of tonight's game occurred at the 16:23 mark of the first period. In a moment that may have dramatic repercussions on Pens' season, Pittsburgh lost not one, but two key defensemen.

It began when Philadelphia forward Wayne Simmonds threw a check into Brian Dumoulin near the blue line. Simmonds' shoulder struck Dumoulin in the side of the head. Dumoulin's head then hit the glass and he fell motionless to the ice. He was eventually able to skate off under his own power. 

Immediately after the hit, Dumoulin's partner Kris Letang went after Simmonds. But he was intercepted by the Flyers' Shayne Gostisbehere, who tackled Letang to the ice. Both Dumoulin and Letang left the game and didn't return, leaving the Pens to finish with just 4 blueliners. Pens head coach Mike Sullivan said he thought that group did a tremendous job, and the captain echoed that sentiment. 

"It's not a typical situation," Sidney Crosby said. "I thought we handled it pretty good. Those guys played a lot of minutes and played really well."

Schultz had a particularly strong effort, as he scored a goal and logged over 30 minutes in just his fifth game back after missing over four months with a broken leg.

"(Dumoulin and Letang) are two of the more important guys on this team and to lose them early like that wasn't easy, but I thought us four did a good job," Schultz said. "The forwards helped us out a lot and played simple. It was unfortunate we couldn't get the win."

Jack Johnson also logged over 30 minutes playing alongside Schultz, while Marcus Pettersson and Chad Ruhwedel made up the other pair. 

"It's quite tough (to play with four D) for that long. But I think we kept the play in front of us and I think we kept short shifts," Pettersson said. "We were able to establish a rhythm with four D. I think that helped a lot."

* In the second period Johnson took a tripping penalty. Pittsburgh only had 3 blueliners at its disposal for the penalty kill. Somehow, that unit got the job done.

* It wouldn't be a game in Philadelphia - regardless of venue - without a goal by Crosby. The Pens' captain opened the scoring 8 minutes into the game. After an egregious turnover by Jakuk Voracek at his own blue line, Letang found Crosby alone in the slot. Crosby deked forehand-backhand and lifted a bouncing puck past Elliott.

* Evgeni Malkin scored a fluky goal in the third period. His long-range shot - just inside the blue line - went off of Elliott's glove, popped into the air, returned to earth and was knocked in by Elliott's skate as he was backing up. That goal pretty much summarizes the Flyers' goaltending this season.

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