Postgame Perspective: Flyers lack typical energy for rival Penguins

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The momentum shifted at 19:45 of the first period. The Flyers, who had a 2-0 lead with a pair of power-play goals, watched everything deflate when Ryan White turned the puck over in the Flyers zone and took a slashing penalty.

With six seconds left on the power play, at 1:39 of the second period, Trevor Daley scored on the power play to cut the Flyers lead to one.

That set the snowball in motion.

The Flyers haven't let one thing spiral into another much this season, but in one of their biggest games of the season, the first in 45 games against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins, the energy that traditionally comes with a Battle of Pennsylvania was lacking as the Flyers fell to the Penguins for the first time in eight games.

"We gave up three straight goals in that second period. The first power play goal that they scored really got them going and got some momentum on their side," head coach Dave Hakstol said. "We didn't turn that quick enough."

"I think it's just part of Pittsburgh vs. Philly," Claude Giroux said. "I think it's good games and tonight was a good game. It was a couple mistakes that cost us. Overall, I think we played pretty good but we all know that we've got more here."

It all started in typical fashion. The Flyers forced two Pittsburgh penalties and capitalized on the power plays to take a 2-0 lead through 20 minutes. And if the final six seconds of that first Penguins power play had ticked away, perhaps things go a different way.

The Flyers had set the table for Pittsburgh to crawl back into the game.

Daley had too much room to work with, not to mention a screened Steve Mason, who couldn't see around Eric Fehr. Daley walked in on Mason, with Chris VandeVelde having abandoned that part of the ice, and drew a late-breaking Michael Del Zotto. He threw the puck past Mason with ease.

Del Zotto also helped set up the second Penguins goal. His clearing attempt pass to Wayne Simmonds on the half boards was poorly executed and left Simmonds in a bad spot. He was swarmed by Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist. Sidney Crosby ended up with the puck and fired a laser with pin-point accuracy over Mason's right shoulder.

The Penguins third goal was nothing more than ridiculous passing at a frenetic pace. It was a tempo that would make Chip Kelly go weak in the knees. In the end, Phil Kessel was the lone man — White was late to pick him up while both defenseman drifted toward the puck — that deposited the puck into a gaping net.

"They had a lot of quality looks tonight," Mason said. "I think we got away from our defensive zone play that we've been successful with in the last little while. In the last two games, we haven't been as clean and it's cost us."

The final goal for Pittsburgh was the result of a bit of a lackadaisical play in the attacking zone. With the Penguins actually struggling to gain control for an outlet, the Flyers half-heartedly went for a loose puck. A couple of strange bounces on the clearing attempt sent the puck past four Flyers to Carl Hagelin for a two-on-one with Kessel. Del Zotto, the lone man back for the Flyers, got beat by Kessel and drifted slightly toward Hagelin, leaving a passing lane and easy burial for a Kessel's second of the game.

"To give up the fourth goal in a transition at that time of game was the one thing we couldn't do," Hakstol said. "That's not D-zone coverage, that's a tradition coverage play that we didn't make them work hard enough for. In a 3-2 game, to give up that fourth one, that was a little too easy."

Del Zotto was on the ice for all four Penguins goals.

The three-goal second period was the result of a lack of energy. Unlike the Flyers previous games against Pittsburgh, there was no physical play and no composure on the Flyers part.

This was the Flyers team that let the one small play that went against them snowball into a series of things. It carried from the 19:45 mark of the first all the way through to the final four minutes of regulation, when, on a power play, the Flyers cut the lead to one and mustered some good chances in the final seconds. One chance came just as the buzzer sounded, as the puck hopped Brayden Schenn's stick as he looked at an open net.

"There was just so many bodies in front there. I couldn't really see the puck until the last second," Schenn said. "It kind of handcuffed me and spun off me. The puck was spinning quite a bit and it all just happened so fast. You just try to find a lane and get open and it was there, I just couldn't get a handle on it."

Too little, too late to keep an eight-game winning streak against Pittsburgh going.

So it's on to Brooklyn where the Flyers will face the Islanders in the fifth of seven games to come in a 12-day period. The Flyers are 1-2-1 in the previous four with just three points to show for their recent efforts.

"It's huge. We've got another tough game in Brooklyn," Jake Voracek said. "We just have to make sure we win that one. We can't hang out heads here. Nobody cares. We just have to make sure we're ready to play Saturday and pick up points."

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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