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Pens stunned in 4-2 loss to Flyers in Game 5

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A Sean Couturier goal broke a 2-2 tie with just 1:15 left in the game, lifting Philadelphia to an unlikely series win over the Penguins in what could have been a series-clinching game at PPG Paints Arena Friday night.

Pens fans expected post-game words with a victorious tune Friday night.

They didn’t expect them from the mouth of Dave Hakstol.

“We had our minds set on bringing this series back home,” said the battle-tested Philadelphia head coach, who watched his team piece together a comeback filled with a strong defensive stand, consistent goaltending and just enough in the offensive zone to indeed “([get] this thing to Game 6,” which is where the series is unexpectedly going.

Valtteri Filppula scored an unlikely short-handed goal with just under two minutes left in the second period, which shifted the tide for the Flyers, who watched Pittsburgh build a dominant tilt of the ice for much of the game to that point.

Couturier, who was a game-time decision due to a knee injury he suffered in a practice session just two days prior, redirected a Wayne Simmonds shot to the net from just inside the blue line, which saved the series for the Flyers, who have now taken two road games in the series.

|Sean Couturier puts in the game-winning goal over Matt Murray to lead the Flyers past the Pens via NHL Daily 365

“We didn’t give up a whole of chances in the third period, and one of them ends up in our net,” said Mike Sullivan, whose team finished with 32 shots on goal.

Michal Neuvirth, who started the series as the Flyers’ third goalie, made his second start Friday night, stuffing 30 shots, including an 0-for-13 performance in the third period, and spearheading a shutout of Pittsburgh’s power play unit, which went 0-for-5.

“[Neurvirth] did his job tonight,” Hakstol said, “he was the right choice for tonight’s game.”

Hakstol continued on the success his team had in stopping the league’s most proficient power play unit.

“We had to kill five minor penalties,” noticed Hakstol.  “Everything about it, for me, was our team competing hard for 60 minutes and finding a way.”

The power play unit was without one of its best weapons in Patric Hornqvist, who missed his second consecutive game due to an upper-body injury.

“We weren’t moving enough,” said Justin Schultz of the struggles on the power play,” we didn’t get any lanes and we didn’t get any shots.”

“We’re feeling his absence with the 5-on-5 and the power play,” continued Schultz about the first line man-advantage unit without Hornqvist.  “He’s a big part of this team.  We have guys who are capable of stepping in there, but he’s definitely a huge part.”

A Claude Giroux finish late in the first period to draw first blood was answered in a pair with second period goals by Bryan Rust and Jake Guentzel, which briefly gave the Pens a 2-1 advantage at the 16:45 mark of the second period.

“We didn’t like our start and we would have liked to put more pucks on net,” said Guentzel, who watched his team finish the first period with just five shots on goal.

“I didn’t think we shot the puck enough,” said a likeminded Sullivan.  “We had a number of chances at the top of the circles, we’re looking for the next play, and a lot of times that lateral play doesn’t materialize and I thought we had opportunities to put the puck on the net a whole lot more in the first period and we didn’t do it.”

Matt Murray, who stopped 21 of 24 shots, saw his toughest moment of the series come on the short-handed goal by Filppula, who took a backwards pass from Jori Lehtera, then ripped a one-timer on net, which hit off the pads of Murray, and was rebounded by Filppula, who fought off Kris Letang and swept the puck through the legs of Murray.

“It happens, you know,” said a frustrated Murray, “it’s hockey.  We just have to stick to the gameplan and move on.”

Valterri Filppula fights off Kris Letang and puts his own rebound through the legs of Matt Murray on the short-handed goal that tied    the game at 2-2 via NHL Daily 365

“We took a while to get into it,” Sidney Crosby, who finished with an assist on the Guentzel goal explained.  “We had a great second, but unfortunately gave up that goal late.  In the third, we had some opportunities; hit some posts.  In a close game, with opportunities like that, anything can happen, [and] they get a bounce there late, and that’s the story of the game.”

One of those opportunities came with under a minute left in the game, when Crosby presented the best opportunity with the extra skater but was denied by Neuvirth.

“He was over there in time.  I didn’t have much,” explained Sid.  “I tried to get it over him and he was there.  Not much you can do.”

Injury update

Sullivan had no report on Patric Hornqvist’s condition. 

Evgeni Malkin, who skated off the ice in the second period after a collision against the boards, did return to the game.  After being asked about his condition in the post-game, Sullivan simply said, “he skated fine,” as the game continued.

After the moneyline

                Pens   Flyers
OPEN     -235    +190
CLOSED -270    +230
*The Penguins never came in as an underdog in the series, with the lowest moneyline total at -135 (Game 3).  The Flyers won as 2-to-1 dogs in both wins at PPG Paints Arena this series.

     O/U
Under 6 (-125)
*The total has gone 1-1-3, with Games 2, 3 and 5 coming in as a push.  Every total in the series thus far came in as 6-goals.

Up next

The Pens will play in Philadelphia for Game 6 on Sunday.  Puck drops at 3 PM.

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