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Noah Cates’ three-point performance, Martin Jones’ 37 saves key in Flyers’ 4-1 victory against the Penguins

The Philadelphia Flyers avoided the season-series sweep against their cross-state rivals in Pittsburgh. The Flyers thoroughly stunted the Penguins all game as they out-matched their rivals with a 4-1 drubbing. The shot totals will show you a relatively even game as the Flyers held a 43-38 shot advantage, but the Penguins really didn’t create much of anything until the third period and even then, Martin Jones stood his ground as he thwarted almost everything thrown his way. Noah Cates scored 2 goals and recorded an assist, Morgan Frost and Keith Yandle recorded 2 points, Linus Hogberg recorded another assist, and Jones made 37 saves as the Flyers snapped their five-game home winless streak.

With the playoffs right around the corner this game had a lot of playoff implications for Metropolitan Division and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Outside of the usual cross-state rivalry that generally sparks interest between both teams, regardless of where they are situated in the standings, the Penguins have the Washington Capitals breathing down their necks for the third and final spot in the division. The Penguins came into today’s game on the heels of a 7-2 victory against the Detroit Red Wings, while the Flyers were playing in the first game of their back to back with a date against the Chicago Blackhawks coming tomorrow. 

FIRST PERIOD

10 minutes into the game, the Penguins and Flyers started at a tentative pace with the Flyers actually having the better scoring chances with Kevin Hayes hitting the post on the first shift of the game and then Travis Sanheim missing the net on a goal-mouth opportunity that was set up by a perfect pass from Oskar Lindblom. The shots were 6-6 apiece by the second commercial break with the Penguins resembling the Toronto Maple Leafs a little from Tuesday night; weary, unconcerned, and potentially taking things a little too easy. 

The Penguins’ best chance came with a shade over five minutes left in the period after Evan Rodrigues and Danton Heinen almost connected on an odd-man rush, but the latter had his shot go just wide. On the ensuing rush, the Flyers took the lead after a great offensive zone shift from the Morgan Frost line. Ronnie Attard’s point shot was initially stopped, Owen Tippett was then robbed by the outstretched pad of Louis Domingue, but then the rebound popped right to Frost and he made no mistake in finishing off his 5th of the season. 

The Penguins looked to have woken up a little bit after the Flyers opened the scoring with 4:11 left in the first, but Martin Jones stood his ground and took the 1-0 lead into the first intermission. The Flyers outshot the Penguins 15-14, while also holding a 10-6 hit advantage as well. 

SECOND PERIOD

Almost four minutes into the second period, the Pittsburgh Penguins were off to the races on their first power play after Ronnie Attard was called for a hooking minor. The Penguins controlled possession for well over 30 seconds with the delayed penalty and they continued the puck possession and pressure during the first minute of the man advantage. The Flyers did a good job at keeping the top unit on the perimeter, outside of a chance from Jake Guentzel in the slot that went high and wide. Guentzel and Letang were on the ice for well over two consecutive minutes but the Flyers were able to kill off the penalty, with only two shots finding Jones. 

The Morgan Frost line struck again shortly after the commercial break. Frost did all the handwork behind the net as he was able to set up a Keith Yandle blast from the point. Being hounded behind the net, he found Yandle whose blast was then deflected by Noah Cates in front of the net, as both Frost and Cates recorded their second points of the game.

The very same line almost made it 3-0 as Owen Tippett was robbed by the very same pad from the first period. However, not all was lost, as the Penguins were called for a slashing minor on the Tippett opportunity. The penalty was killed but that was by far one of the better power plays from the Flyers in recent memory with a lot of zone time, chances, and actually being able to set up for a lengthy amount of time. Similarly to the first period, the Penguins best scoring chance of the period came with a shade over 5 minutes left as Jake Guentzel’s one-touch shot from the slot went straight into the breadbasket of Martin Jones. 

Coming out of the final commercial break, the Flyers were called for a delay of game penalty courtesy of Ivan Provorov. The referees had to confer with each other about the call for a few moments but in the end decided that Provorov did indeed flip the puck over the glass instead of the puck going into the bench. The second power play looked a lot better than their first attempt but Jones was able to rob Bryan Rust and Kris Letang on consecutive opportunities and then Rickard Rakell’s blast to a seemingly open net was blocked away by Attard.

With only 47 seconds left in the second period, Jake Guentzel was called for a tripping minor but as the period came to a close, the Flyers were able to double their lead, while also keeping the shot totals relatively even at 27-26 for Pittsburgh as the period ended.

THIRD PERIOD

The Pittsburgh Penguins were finally awake in the third period, but the Flyers were doing a good job at keeping them to the outside and the perimeter with most of their chances. Jake Guentzel had a few coming out of the penalty box after the Penguins killed the final minute of his penalty to start the period, but up until the first commercial break, the Penguins looked without life, with Sidney Crosby being extremely unnoticeable. 

Coming out of the break, Noah Cates was able to draw a hooking minor off the stick of John Marino. With the penalty coming to a close, Ivan Provorov’s one-time blast was deflected by Noah Cates again for his second goal of the game. Yandle, who also picked up his second point of the game, set up the Provorov one-time blast with Cates parked in front of the net. It was also Cates’ first two-goal game of his career and his first three-point game. 

With 4:41 remaining in regulation, the Penguins pulled Louis Domingue down by three goals. With 3:33 still left in the third period, the Penguins got some life after Sidney Crosby banked home a rebound from Jones’ initial save off an Evgeni Malkin point shot. Giving Crosby, Malkin, and Letang a little bit of a rest, Domingue wasn’t pulled again until the 2:47 mark but the Flyers countered quickly and Travis Konecny iced it with the empty net goal. 

UP NEXT

Philadelphia will make a very quick trip to the Windy City as they take on the Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow night at United Center for the second leg of their back to back.

Flyers fan born in the heart of Leafs nation, living in Guelph

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