Penguins drop their third in a row, lose to Flyers, 2-1



The Penguins are going to win another game at some point.

They're going to score an even-strength goal eventually, too.

And there's a pretty good chance that both will happen on the same night.

They have scored one goal-- always on the power plays -- in each of their past three games, including a 2-1 loss Wednesday night against Philadelphia at Consol Energy Center.

Not coincidentally, they own their second three-game losing streak of the season.

The Penguins (11-7) haven't scored a five-on-five goal since a 3-0 victory Nov. 2 in Columbus, which just happens to be the most recent time they got a couple of points to show for their work.

"You have to score goals to win games," right winger James Neal said.

That's an obvious truth. It also isn't often an issue for the Penguins, whose offense generally is one of the NHL's most volatile.

"This is not the norm for us, but it happens," defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "Scoring goals is one of those things where, when things are going good, pucks that have no business going in find their way in.

"When you're in one of those funks like we are now, you get golden opportunities and pucks find a way to stay out."

Ray Emery, the Flyers backup goalie, found ways to keep 30 of the 31 shots the Penguins threw at him out of his net.

And his teammates found a way to run their season-best winning streak to three games, even though they had played in Ottawa 24 hours earlier while the Penguins were resting.

None of that seemed particularly likely on the first shift, when the Penguins had several scoring chances and actually got a puck past Emery just 19 seconds after the opening faceoff.

"Not a good way to start a game," Flyers coach Craig Berube said.

A video review concluded, however, that left winger Chris Kunitz had used a deliberate kicking motion to knock the puck into the net, and the goal was disallowed.

"I was probably trying to move my feet toward the puck to knock it down," Kunitz said.

"It looked like I hit it with my left, and then my right followed through into the net."

The Penguins, who had won their previous three games against Philadelphia, weren't fazed by that ruling.

They had run up a 10-3 advantage in shots before Brayden Schenn of the Flyers was penalized for interfering with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury at 9:04.

They had gotten several quality scoring chances in that span, but were unable to capitalize. Which again turned out to be a recurring theme.

"We're certainly not doing enough around the net and in those areas to get the goals that I think were there," coach Dan Bylsma said.

"We had opportunities. There were rebounds.

"There were situations, but we're not able to get in there and finish, find those rebounds and go there to get that second-chance opportunity."

The power play stemming from Schenn's minor disrupted the Penguins' early momentum, and Philadelphia seized a 1-0 lead when Schenn beat Fleury from inside the left circle at 16:02 after forward Wayne Simmonds outfought Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo for a puck behind the goal line.

Sidney Crosby, who had gone without a point in the previous two games, negated that with a power-play goal at 8:29 of the second, as he worked free in front of the net and steered in an Evgeni Malkin feed from along the right-wing boards.

That was Crosby's ninth of the season -- seven of which have tied the score or given the Penguins a lead -- and his 30th against Philadelphia, the most against any opponent.

The Flyers, however, got a man-advantage goal later in the period, and it proved to be the winner.

Schenn collected a puck that caromed off the right post and tucked it into the net from the right side of the crease at 18:40 of the second.

Neither team scored in the third period. Then again, only one needed to.

The Penguins offense tends to revolve more around finesse than physicality, but there are times when a blue-collar approach is called for.

Times such as this.

"We've got to get the puck to the net," Kunitz said. "We've got to get bodies to the net. Get second, third, fourth chances. Whatever it takes."


Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com or Twitter @MolinariPG First Published November 13, 2013 10:47 PM

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