by Nat Marlowe
In the first of eight contests between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins this season, the Battle of Pennsylvania ended in a 6-3 victory for the Flyers on Wednesday night. It is the Flyers first season opener victory in the building that is now the Wells Fargo Center since 2003.
Mark Jankowski opened the scoring for the Penguins 5:14 into the game off a cross-crease feed from Jared McCann. However, the Flyers would end up rolling with two powerplay opportunities late in the first period, with major contributions from Flyers newcomer, Erik Gustafsson. On the Flyers’ first powerplay, James Van Riemsdyk got in position down low, battled Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson to screen goaltender Tristan Jarry, and deflected Gustafsson’s slap shot from the left point. Van Riemsdyk’s goal tied the game at the 15:11 mark.
The Flyers would soon take advantage of another powerplay opportunity. In the final eight seconds of the first, in a play set up almost identical to the first powerplay goal, Gustafsson skated to the left point again to accept a pass from Joel Farabee who was along the boards. This time Gustafsson’s shot deflected off Nolan Patrick’s stick for a goal. It was Patrick’s first NHL goal since March 9, 2019, and his first game with the Flyers since April 2, 2019 after battling a migraine disorder for the entirety of the 2019-2020 NHL season.
In the second period, the Penguins dumped the puck in deep for Flyers goaltender Carter Hart to play behind the net. However, Hart turned it over right onto Sidney Crosby’s stick who batted the puck out of the air into the wide open net, tying the game at 2 at the 3:39 mark. The Flyers struggled to produce playing 5-on-5 until Joel Farabee scored down low off a feed from Kevin Hayes with 1:06 left in the second period. It was Farabee’s third point of the game.
Early In the third, the Penguins tied it up again when Brandon Tanev accepted a great cross-ice pass from Mark Jankowski, and got a wrist-shot past Carter Hart at the 3:01 mark. However, the Flyers answered about two and a half minutes later as Michael Raffl snuck in right in front of Jarry to accept a feed from Scott Laughton. The twelfth minute of the third saw back-to-back goals from Oskar Lindblom and Kevin Hayes just 20 seconds apart, giving the Flyers some insurance to secure a 6-3 victory over the Penguins. Lindblom who has fully recovered from Ewing Sarcoma scored his first NHL goal since November 30, 2019. Joel Farabee earned his fourth point of the game assisting on Kevin Hayes’ goal. Carter Hart made 31 saves on 34 shots.
The Battle of Pennsylvania continues tonight at 7:00 p.m. as the Flyers will take on the Penguins once again at the Wells Fargo Center. You can listen to tonight’s game on 97.5 The Fanatic