The Flyers fell to 1-7 on the season with Thursday's 4-1 loss to the Penguins. (USA Today Images)
If you thought it couldn’t get worse for the Flyers, it did on Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center.
They lost in regulation to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-1, and are now 1-7. That is officially their worst start in club history.
Pittsburgh simply buried the Flyers in their own end during the middle period. The Penguins could easily have been ahead 4-0 or worse were it not for goalie Steve Mason.
At one point, the shots were 21-8 in Pittsburgh’s favor. Yet, somehow the Flyers managed to get a power-play goal during one of their rare chances in the Pens’ end and go into the third period behind, 2-1.
Six times this season now the Flyers have gone into the third period behind by a goal and very much within striking distance. And they failed to get even a point out of it this time.
Jussi Jokinen’s goal at 9:43 of the second period was the result of three attempted Flyer clear passes going nowhere, Brayden Schenn falling down, then Kimmo Timonen being swarmed by three players and hooked from behind by Chuck Kobasew without a penalty.
That no-call saw Evgeni Malkin steal the puck and feed Jokinen for a goal.
A few minutes later, it was 2-0 on Chris Kunitz’s rebound off a point shot.
The remainder of the period was all Pittsburgh, as Mason stood on his head facing 17 shots.
The Flyers got a power play with a minute left in the period, and as the fan boos got louder, Claude Giroux looked up at the clock, floated a shot from the left circle and Wayne Simmonds tipped it past Marc-Andre Fleury.
On their next power play, Brayden Schenn had the puck in the paint, swung and might have actually struck Fleury’s stick as the puck went wide of the net.
Sidney Crosby’s point streak continued at eight games with a goal in the final minutes.
Bottom line? The Flyers were outplayed 35 of the first 40 minutes when the damage occurred.
Braydon Coburn, who has been terrible lately, tried a pass into the slot and was stripped of the puck. It went to Pascal Dupuis, who fed Crosby for the third goal.
Simmonds’ goal in the second period ended an 0-for-18 skid on the power play.
For all the talk about disciplined play, the Flyers had two penalties in the first six minutes of the game and three in the period. Truth is, the officials were calling the game overly tight to the point in which borderline calls became outright penalties.
Before the Flyers could even get the puck into the zone for a sustained period of time, the Pens had a 5-0 shot lead. Four of those shots were on their first power play. Needless to say, Mason was sharp once again with 12 saves.
Through two periods, the Flyers had five penalties.
Pittsburgh won 10 of 18 faceoffs in the first period. Crosby won 6 of 10 draws (60 percent) and was 3 of 6 head-to-head against Sean Couturier, whose line matched up.
Malkin only took a single faceoff in the period, while Brandon Sutter won 4 of 5 (80 percent) against four different Flyers.
Overall, the Penguins won 60 percent of their draws. However, the Flyers recovered for 58 percent of the draws overall.
Flyers coach Craig Berube used Couturier’s line mostly against Crosby with Nick Grossmann and Coburn. Giroux went up against Malkin with defensive support from Mark Streit and Erik Gustafsson.
Well, Jakub Voracek again had no shots in the first period and tried a backhander on Fleury instead of a power forehand shot up high with open space.
Simmonds flubbed an open net from the left slot and banged his stick on the ice in frustration after.
In the third period, Simmonds again had Fleury at his mercy on the power play and the latter made an incredible glove save that had Simmonds looking to the rafters in disbelief.
Kris Newbury took on Pens defenseman Robert Bortuzzo in the second period standing up for teammate Zac Rinaldo -- of all people -- on a hit. Bortuzzo got the decision.
Timonen left the game with about 14 minutes left in the second period and did not return with a lower-body injury. He will be re-evaluated on Friday, general manager Paul Holmgren said.
Holmgren also said that Scott Hartnell (upper-body injury) and Vinny Lecavalier (lower-body injury) will skate on Sunday.
Healthy scratches were defensemen Andrej Meszaros and Hal Gill, plus winger Jay Rosehill. Berube dressed Newbury to give him more faceoff options and Pittsburgh is not carrying a heavyweight enforcer right now.