Flyers Can Take Solace In Winning Season Series Against Pittsburgh

By Matt Mastrogiovanni, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Despite the Flyers' slim chances of making this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, there is victory in one way. After Sunday night's exciting win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, the season series was won with the Flyers winning three of four meetings.

On Dec. 1, the two teams met for the first time this season within the confines of PPG Paints Arena. Now former Flyers goaltender Anthony Stolarz made 30 saves, winning his first National Hockey League game since Dec. 11, 2016.

Backed by Stolarz's play, Philadelphia surged to a 4-2 win. Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny scored while Dale Weise scored the game-winning goal in shorthanded fashion. Jake Voracek added an empty-net goal late in the third to seal the deal for the Flyers.

The next installment of the "Battle of Pennsylvania" came on Feb. 11 with the setting shifted to the Wells Fargo Center. Despite a more than solid effort from the Flyers, their rivals came away victorious.

Behind a 50-save performance from goalie Matt Murray, the Penguins took the game, 4-1. In true Flyers-Penguins fashion, the game had its fair share of twists, turns, and swings. 

During the second period, the Flyers seemed to have scored a goal, yet the play was blown dead controversially quick by the officials. Also, the team set a record recording 28 shots on goal in the same period.

In the third, Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin was given a match penalty for swinging his stick at the head of Flyers forward Michael Raffl. He was suspended one game by the NHL.

The incident obviously was something to remember. Many knew it would only add fuel the Flyers' fierce determination to defeat the Penguins in their next and perhaps biggest showdown in recent years.

On Feb. 23, the two teams took their rivalry outside. In the 2019 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, the bitter rivals met atop the gridiron of Lincoln Financial Field in front of almost 70,000 fans.

Through wet weather that did not favor scoring, the Flyers showed true resiliency. After being down 3-1 late in the third period, they mounted what may be their best comeback of the season. With just under four minutes left in regulation, James van Riemsdyk closed the gap to make it a 3-2 contest.

Then, with just 19 seconds left in regulation, Voracek tied the game sending the Flyers faithful into a frenzy.

It didn't take long for the thrilling, storybook ending. At 1:59 of the overtime period, Giroux scored the game-winning goal, giving the Flyers their first ever outdoor game victory.

The occasion was a bittersweet one as it also became long-time Flyer Wayne Simmonds' final game in Orange and Black. Despite a scoreless game, Simmonds made his presence known one last time laying a booming hit on Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin, causing a scrum on the ice.

Two days later, Simmonds was traded to the Nashville Predators.

Most recently on Sunday night, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh met for the final time this season. After two periods of scoreless hockey, the Penguins took a 1-0 lead in the third period.

As time wound down, it seemed like it was curtains for the Flyers. Then, with 18.8 seconds left, van Riemsdyk had different plans and tied the game, 1-1, sending the game into overtime.

Just like the Stadium Series, the Flyers prevailed in the extra frame.

This time, with time winding down, Sean Couturier beat Murray blocker side giving Philadelphia a much-needed, thrilling win. Three seconds were left. Goaltender Carter Hart made 41 saves, a handful being miraculous, in one of his strongest outings of his career thus far.

As the current chapter of the Flyers-Penguins saga comes to a close, Philadelphia stays on top of the all-time series lead with a 177–123–30 record. Postseason hopes aside, the Flyers can take solace in their victories over their cross-state foes as a small win in the big picture of this season.

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