PITTSBURGH – Wayne Simmonds remained defiant.
Yes, the Flyers have lost seven of their last nine games. Yes, they are five points out of the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
But it's not over in terms of the playoffs.
"We played a great game, but unfortunately, it didn't go our way," Simmonds said after the 4-2 loss to the Penguins in the Stadium Series outdoor game at Heinz Field (see game recap).
"It wasn't good enough. I don't know what to say, guys. We have 21 games left and a never-say-die attitude. We're gonna keep pushing, no matter what. We've got to be desperate every game and play it as if it’s our last."
The Flyers had their chances and their moments. When Shayne Gostisbehere scored his first goal in 34 games early in the third period, it was a 3-2 game and momentum had been building in the Flyers' favor.
Then a key moment. A lost faceoff and the puck goes back to the point where Chad Ruhwedel fires so quickly that goalie Michal Neuvirth couldn't track the puck.
That was it. Game over.
"We brought it back [to 3-2]," Simmonds said. "We just had to get the tying goal and it slipped away. … We've got to score."
Still, there is time to regroup again with 21 games left.
"We have to have a short memory," Simmonds said. "Whether it's a good game or bad game, you move on."
They’re moving on but they're not gaining traction.
Weal back in lineup
Jordan Weal (concussion symptoms) re-entered the lineup in place on Roman Lyubimov. Weal missed two games after suffering the injury Feb. 16 in Edmonton.
Weal moved to left wing on Claude Giroux’s line with Simmonds.
“It’s a short sample, but it’s his body of work since he has been with us over the last couple weeks,” coach Dave Hakstol said of moving Weal there.
Before his injury, Weal played left wing on Sean Couturier’s line with Jakub Voracek. Brayden Schenn went back to center Saturday night between Nick Cousins and Voracek. It was another new line for Schenn.
If you’re wondering, Schenn has played left wing 33 times this season in 58 games.
Weal said he “felt good” and seemed excited to play in an NHL outdoor game.
Midway into the game, Michael Raffl went back to the top line and Weal moved to a line with Couturier and Dale Weise.
Weal played 15:43.
Shayne Gostisbehere played the point this game with the first unit and not the half wall. He also scored a goal there.
Coach Dave Hakstol has been rotating him from the point to the half-wall depending upon the personnel on the ice.
"It's a little bit of an adjustment no matter where I am," Gostisbehere said. "It's just nice to be on the power play. Whatever position they put me in out there, up top or on the wing, it's something I have to be ready for. I think I'm comfortable in both spots."
General manager Ron Hextall liked the outdoor game concept.
"It’s unique," Hextall said. "When they first started, I don’t love change. I was a little skeptical, I guess. I think they’re terrific. I really do.
"It’s good for the game. People watch an outdoor game and will pick that game because it’s an outdoor game. There is something about them. They’re neat."