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Flyers Takeaways: Defense, Goaltending Optional in 7-6 Loss to Penguins



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Tyson Foerster scored two goals as the Philadelphia Flyers fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins 7-6 on Sunday afternoon. (Photo: AP)

If you blinked, you might have missed a goal or three. Despite fighting back to tie the game twice, the Philadelphia Flyers lost 7-6 to the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday afternoon.

Travis Konecny (upper-body) missed a second consecutive contest; his status for Tuesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning is currently unclear.

Defense and goaltending were choices, not requirements, in Sunday’s tilt between the Flyers and the Pens. Cal Petersen and Tristan Jarry combined to allow 13 goals on 54 shots while their respective teams ceded a grand total of 36 scoring chances – 16 of which were considered high-danger.

Speaking of Petersen, his performance was particularly egregious as the Flyers stumbled to their second regulation loss in as many days.

Flyers may need a new backup goalie

Hopes were never particularly high for the Flyers’ Cal Petersen experiment, but on Sunday, the downside of having Petersen playing meaningful games reared its ugly head.

The 29-year-old saved -4.16 goals above expected, per Moneypuck, which is an impressively bad figure. All Petersen needed to do was not be worse than Jarry, who saved -3.61 goals above expected. He failed to do so, and as a result, the Flyers failed to come away with a win.

Not every goal Petersen allowed was brutal, but the two he conceded to Emil Bemstrom and Drew O’Connor were inexcusable.

Bemstrom scored a power play goal – his first as a member of the Penguins – after walking out in front and taking a close-range shot that rolled off Petersen’s pad and in, giving Pittsburgh a 4-2 lead towards the end of the second period. Bemstrom had nowhere else to go with the puck, so it was strange that Petersen allowed so much space for a shot there.

O’Connor’s short-handed goal gave the Pens a 5-4 lead early in the third period, just minutes after the Flyers worked to erase a two-goal deficit. O’Connor was nearly on the goal line before he whacked a pass from Evgeni Malkin as hard as he could in the direction of Petersen, beating the Flyers netminder on the short side once again.

These two goals, in particular, look worse each time you watch them back.

Laughton has found his form again

Very quietly, Scott Laughton has scored a point in each of the Flyers’ last seven games, (3G, 7A) giving him 10 points in that span. Laughton now has 30 points on the season, so 33% of his production this season has come in the last 15 days.

Laughton completed the Flyers’ two-goal comeback late in the second period, cleaning up a Noah Cates wraparound attempt on the penalty kill to tie the game at 4-4. The 29-year-old also had a helping in hand in opening the game’s scoring; his shot was deflected by Travis Sanheim to put the Flyers up 1-0 just over two minutes into the game.

Laughton suddenly has a chance to cross the 40-point threshold, and it comes at an important time for the Flyers. Players like Cates, Cam Atkinson, Joel Farabee, and Ryan Poehling have been ice cold in the scoring department in recent weeks, so the team is going to need a collaborative effort to score goals and beat good teams.

Right now, one of the locker room’s biggest leaders is carrying the load in crunch time.

Defense wins championships

Sanheim and Cam York balled out against the Penguins, combining for three goals in an assist in the absence of Jamie Drysdale (upper-body), who left the game in the second period and did not return.

Sanheim scored the Flyers’ first and third goals, opening the scoring and then bringing the Flyers within one at 4-3. York’s goal erased a two-goal deficit in the second half of the third period, giving the Orange and Black some life down 6-5.

Conversely, Nick Seeler, Sean Walker, and Marc Staal didn’t have the strongest games.

Tyson Foerster, the team’s best defensive forward at even strength, had two goals and an assist. He’s got three goals in two days since returning from a lower-body injury on Saturday.

Foerster’s first of two goals tied the game at 2-2, and his second goal with just over two minutes left gave the Flyers hope, bringing them within one at 7-6. Ultimately, as the score line suggests, the Flyers didn’t manage to find the equalizer, but it certainly doesn’t take away from Foerster’s excellent performance.

Honorable mention

I also wanted to take a moment to recognize Olle Lycksell, who turned in a strong performance despite getting thrown into the lineup under dubious circumstances.

Given the unenviable task of replacing Konecny in the Flyers’ lineup, Lycksell had two assists – one primary and one secondary – in 12:44 of ice time. The 24-year-old also played 2:56 on the power play, which was a pleasant surprise.

This came one night after Lycksell assisted Bobby Brink’s overtime winner in the Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ thrilling 6-5 victory over the Charlotte Checkers. Oh, and Lycksell had a total of two goals and two assists in that one.

After his call-up was announced, I was hoping that he would be given between 10 and 13 minutes of ice time to allow him a real chance of making an impact. Despite the final score, he did just that.

The Flyers will leave Pittsburgh with something to hang their hats on.

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