Flyers (42-27-14) at Penguins (48-29-6)
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
WHERE: PPG Paints Arena
BROADCAST & STREAMING: NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBCSports.com/live, 97.5 FM
KEY PLAYERS: The Flyers, who suffered the worst Game 1 loss in franchise history when they dropped a 7-0 decision Wednesday, have a gargantuan task. Not only are they trying to beat the two-time defending Stanley Cup champs, but only one team in NHL history has won a series after losing Game 1 by seven goals. Boston did it in 1953 against Detroit. But the Flyers can’t even think about winning the series until they register their first victory. Their confidence level is low after the Game 1 humiliation.
That said, they have been resilient this season. After suffering their 10th straight loss in early December, they were the NHL’s fifth-best team the rest of the season. And they had a 7-5-2 record this season after allowing five or more goals in the preceding game. They were 4-1-1 following a shutout loss.
In the opener, Sidney Crosby had the third playoff hat trick of his career and linemate Jake Guentzel had four points. The Pens’ top line of Crosby, Guentzel and Bryan Rust combined for five goals, eight points, and a plus-14 rating. The Flyers’ No. 1 line — Sean Couturier centering Claude Giroux and Michael Raffl — was a combined minus-11. They were on the ice for two of the goals by Crosby’s line.
Unless coach Dave Hakstol has a change of heart, Brian Elliott will start for the Flyers. In three games against the Pens this season, he has a 6.42 GAA and .835 save percentage. Elliott allowed five goals on 19 shots and was replaced by Petr Mrazek midway through the second period in Game 1.
For the Flyers to have any chance, they need their power play to start clicking. It went 0 for 4 and had zero shots in the opener.
“We just had too many holes,” Hakstol said about the blowout loss. “You have holes in your game, and that team is going to drive a truck through them — and they did. I give them a ton of credit.”
The Penguins have scored a total of 27 goals in their five meetings with the Flyers this season. Pittsburgh has won all five games. The Penguins are trying to become just the fourth franchise in NHL history to win three straight Stanley Cups — and the first since the Islanders won four in a row from 1980-83.
Goalie Matt Murray, slowed by a concussion earlier in the season, and the Penguins’ defense were underwhelming in the regular season, but they easily shut down the Flyers in Game 1. Murray will bring a playoff shutout streak of 206:26 into the game. Murray became the ninth goalie in NHL history to have three straight shutouts, joining a group that includes Ilya Bryzgalov when he played in Anaheim in 2006. No goalie in NHL history has had four consecutive playoff shutouts.
THINGS TO KNOW: The Flyers are 17-17 in playoff series when they are tied at one win apiece; they are 3-15 when losing the first two games in a playoff series. … Including the regular season, the Penguins are 31-9-2 at home this season. They have won seven straight home playoff games. … The Flyers are 12-4-3 at PPG Paints Arena since the arena opened in 2010-11. … Murray has a 14-2 career record in home playoff games. … Twelve Penguins had points in Game 1. … The Flyers have a 36-38 record in playoff OT games. … Claude Giroux is ninth in Flyers history with 62 career playoff points.
HEAD TO HEAD: The Flyers went 0-2-2 against the Penguins in the regular season and allowed five goals in each game. Overall, the Flyers hold a 153-90-30-10 regular-season advantage in the all-time series.
COMING FLYERS GAMES:
Sunday: 3 p.m. at Wells Fargo Center.
Wednesday: 7 p.m. at Wells Fargo Center
Friday, April 20: time TBA at Pittsburgh (if necessary)
Sunday, April 22: time TBA at Wells Fargo Center (if necessary)
Tuesday, April 24: time TBA at Pittsburgh (if necessary)