Penguins 5, Flyers 4.
It was as if the Flyers believed the Penguins already had boarded their charter flight home after only the first period.
"We were all up, we were all confident and excited to go for the second period," Zac Rinaldo said of the Flyers' locker-room atmosphere during the first intermission, when they led 4-1.
Up for an implosion, apparently.
Thursday marked the Flyers' first regulation loss in more than 20 years (Feb. 17, 1993, against Detroit) in which they held a three-goal edge in a regular-season game. The Penguins did it to the Flyers in Game 6 of their 2009 first-round playoff series, but apparently that wasn't recent enough for this team to remember.
Now, the Flyers are a Saturday loss in Beantown away from going winless in "rivalry week," which some have dubbed as the most important of the season.
And after blowing two points that should have been in-hand, the Flyers sit only four points from 15th place in the East after starting the week in a playoff position.
"That should be the game right there," Timonen said. "When we have a 4-1 lead, the game is in your hands, big-time. Every time when we take a big lead, we seem to sit back and wait for the game to end. We're not a team that can sit back and wait. When we do that, we seem to stand still and give up a lot of easy goals.
"When we went back on the ice, we were not there for some reason."
Neither Laviolette nor any player could put their finger on the second period's start, which is especially puzzling since both players and coaches talked about it.
"It was a big letdown," Scott Hartnell said. "I don't know why we stopped playing from the way we were in the first period. The Pittsburgh Penguins aren't going to sit back and hand over two points, they're going to come hard. Before you know, it's 4-4; we just can't do that. We let another two points slip away. It's not [Laviolette's] fault. It's not his fault, it's not anyone's fault."
Laviolette said the Flyers "stopped working" in the second period.
Even after the Flyers' horrific second period, they still entered the third tied 4-4, with a real chance to redeem themselves. It took Chris Kunitz only 18 seconds to find the back of the net. Timonen gambled and lost on a pinch when Crosby fell down in the neutral zone.
The Flyers are 0-5 in games in which they've entered the third period tied this season, also losing Tuesday in New York after entering the third in a 2-2 deadlock.
"We played a great 20 minutes, but 20 minutes doesn't get you anything these days," Hartnell said. "Then we just sat back, and when you do that, Malkin and Crosby, these guys are snipers and make plays. Play like that and it will be a long summer."
Ilya Bryzgalov refused to comment after being pulled from the game in the second period, having allowed four goals on 16 shots. Neither starting goaltender finished the game, as Marc-Andre Fleury was also yanked after allowing four goals . . . Thursday was the third time in 13 months that Bryzgalov had been pulled against Pittsburgh . . . Zac Rinaldo's first career multipoint game was wasted . . . Matt Read returned to the lineup for the first time since tearing muscles in his rib cage on Feb. 20 against the Penguins. He was originally projected to miss 6 weeks . . . Nick Grossmann was also back after missing the second and third periods in New York on Tuesday with a reported groin injury . . . Defenseman Andrej Meszaros remains "day-to-day" and could face the Bruins on Saturday.
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