Penguins let late lead slip away, lose Stadium Series game to Flyers
PHILADELPHIA — A rainy mess of a Stadium Series game at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday night was mostly disastrous for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Claude Giroux scored with 3 minutes, 1 second left in overtime to give the Philadelphia Flyers a 4-3 victory. The Penguins led by two goals with less than four minutes to play.
The point gained in the standings moved the Penguins into a tie with Carolina for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The rest of the news, especially injuries to Brian Dumoulin and Kris Letang, was mostly bad.
Dumoulin suffered a concussion, and Letang is being evaluated for an upper-body injury, coach Mike Sullivan said.
“We battled hard under tough conditions,” goalie Matt Murray said. “Two (defensemen) were down. Our ‘D’ did an unbelievable job all night.”
With the Penguins holding a seemingly safe 3-1 lead with 4 minutes, 20 seconds left, Matt Cullen was called for slashing.
The Flyers scored on the power play with the goalie pulled. James Van Riemsdyk cleaned up a loose puck in the crease with 3:04 to play.
The Flyers tied the score with 19.7 seconds to go. Off an offensive-zone faceoff, Jakub Voracek tracked down a puck in the corner and fired a bad-angle shot that slipped past Murray.
“Most of that was on me,” Murray said. “I feel like (expletive) for that last one.”
Sullivan largely backed his goalie after the game.
“Obviously, we’d like to see him bring a little more consistency to his game,” Sullivan said. “It’s going to help us down the stretch here. But Matt’s a very good goalie, and we believe in him.”
With Dumoulin and Letang injured on the same play late in the first period, Justin Schultz, Jack Johnson, Marcus Petterson and Chad Ruhwedel carried a heavy ice-time load in a game played in steady but generally light rain in front of an announced crowd of 69,620.
With less than four minutes left in the first, Dumoulin was drilled by a Wayne Simmonds hit after keeping a puck in at the left point. Simmonds drove his shoulder into Dumoulin’s chin, leaving the Penguins defenseman motionless on the ice for a few minutes. He eventually skated off on his own.
Simmonds was not penalized for the hit.
Letang immediately accosted Simmonds afterwards, and in the scrum that followed, he was tackled to the ice by Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere. Letang also left the ice for medical attention and did not return.
That left the Penguins playing with just four defensemen for the final 43 minutes, 37 seconds of the game.
“I wouldn’t use (fatigue) as an excuse,” Johnson said. “I felt fine at the end of the game. The worst part is we lost two good players.”
Despite that obvious disadvantage, the Penguins took a 2-1 lead in the second period.
Ten minutes in, Schultz wound up and fired a hard shot from the center point, tumbling to the ice as it left his stick. The puck bounced hard off the end boards back out to Schultz, who had regained his vertical base in the right faceoff circle. He shot in under the crossbar to push the Penguins ahead.
Less than seven minutes into the third period, the Penguins made it 3-1. Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel skated across the blue line two on two. Malkin’s shot from the high slot hit the glove of Brian Elliott, popped high in the air and banked in off the goalie’s skate.
Sidney Crosby, as he often does when playing in Philadelphia, tormented the crowd by scoring the first goal of the game about eight minutes in.
The Flyers couldn’t connect on a defensive-zone pass from Travis Sanheim to Jakub Voracek, and Letang stepped up to knock the loose puck toward the slot. Crosby gathered it and beat Elliott with a forehand-backhand move.
“It’s coming down pretty good, but you know, with a lead, that would usually work to your advantage with rolling pucks and things like that,” Crosby said. “Unfortunately, we gave them some life there and they took advantage of it.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .