Missed shots have never looked better in today’s NHL, with newer possession-oriented stats putting them on equal footing with accurate drives, at least when it comes to measuring a team’s offensive potency.
However, for the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night, there was no consolation in simply launching rubber at the opposing net. Despite sending 65 attempts toward Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ray Emery, the Pens missed on 19 of them in a 2-1 loss at Consol Energy Center.
The Flyers (7-10-1, 15 points) were opportunistic in the latest edition of this intrastate rivalry, as Brayden Schenn scored twice to help even the season series at one win apiece. Philadelphia was outshot 31-21 and outdueled 65-45 in attempts, but still won its second in a row behind 30 saves from Emery, 15 blocked shots and some good fortune on Pittsburgh’s multiple missed chances.
Although they still hold a one-point lead over the Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division, the Penguins (11-7-0, 22 points) have lost three straight for the second time this season. During their current slump, they’ve scored three total goals, all on the power play.
Sidney Crosby netted his ninth of the season on a man-advantage in the second period, tying the game 1-1 by redirecting a slick pass from Evgeni Malkin. But Schenn, who scored in the first to put Philly on top, nudged the Flyers ahead for good by cleaning up a rebound at the side of the net with 1:20 left in the middle frame. Steve Downie‘s deflected shot had hit the right post and settled in the crease for Schenn to bury his sixth on the power play.
Pittsburgh created numerous scoring opportunities in the third period, but couldn’t find the range on several glorious chances. In the final minutes alone, James Neal misfired on a point-blank give-and-go with Malkin and Brooks Orpik pushed a one-timer wide from the low slot.
Neal and Kris Letang failed to hit open nets in the second period, too, as did Crosby when Emery booted out his backhand jam try at the buzzer. Crosby, the NHL’s leading scorer with 24 points, had lifted Malkin’s cross-ice pass over Emery’s right leg at 8:29 of that same period. Malkin hasn’t scored a goal in 11 games, but he has assists in five straight.
The Penguins thought they had the game’s opening goal when, just seconds after the opening faceoff, Crosby burst around Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn and gunned a high shot that Emery fended off into the slot. Chris Kunitz‘ initial rebound try was denied, but he inadvertently kicked the follow-up past Emery. A video review cancelled the goal, and rightfully so.
An effective forecheck gave Philadelphia the first strike of the evening. Wayne Simmonds rocked Pittsburgh blueliner Robert Bortuzzo, stole the puck and fed Schenn at the left faceoff dot. Schenn beat Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury over the glove with four minutes remaining before intermission. Fleury was strong most of the night, stopping 19 shots.
The Penguins begin back-to-back games Friday night when they host the Nashville Predators (8-8-2, 18 points) at 7 p.m.