PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – The NHL season finally kicked off the season Saturday afternoon when the Philadelphia Flyers took on the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center. While the contest wasn’t nearly as exciting as their intense playoff series last season, the fans enjoyed having their hockey back nonetheless. The Pens beat the Flyers 3-1 in a slow, sloppy game that looked more like a preseason game rather than a regular season game.
Without the benefit of having preseason games to work off the rust, the Pens looked like the better team early on with the Penguins getting off to a 2-0 lead in the first period thanks to goals by Tyler Kennedy and James Neal.
Kennedy deflected a shot from the point past Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov as Kennedy went across the slot area to deflect a high shot for the 1-0 lead. With the face-off in the Flyers zone, Evgeni Malkin won a face-off back to Neal who snapped a shot past Bryzgalov that looked like it also changed directions into the Flyers net.
With the heat on anyone who resides in the Flyers net these days, Bryzgalov will get blamed for but shouldn’t. After both goals Bryzgalov kept the Flyers in the game the rest of the way. More importantly the Flyers woke up after being outshot 11-3 early on and 11-6 for the period.
The second period was more like Flyers hockey thanks in part to Captain Claude Giroux scored 23 seconds into the period on a nice feed from Scott Hartnell who feathered a pass from the left wing over to Giroux who slide the puck between Marc-Andre Fluery’s legs to get the Flyers back in the game at 2-1.
Philadelphia outshot Pittsburgh the rest of the game 21-16 with both teams ending the game with 27 shots. Unfortunately for the Flyers, they went 0-5 on the power play while the Penguins scored two of their goals on special teams. It would be the Flyers undoing but with 47 games left and virtually no time to rest with a cramped schedule no thanks to the lockout, you can bet things will pick up for both teams once the rust comes off.
NHL hockey is back. In the end, that’s all that matters.