The Penguins are too talented, too fast and too good for the Flyers .
It's difficult to reach any other conclusion following Pittsburgh's 5-1 victory in Game 3 of NHL first-round playoff series Sunday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center .
Trailing 2-1, the Flyers must win three of the final four games to advance, with two of the games on the road. At this point, that seems unlikely.
Pittsburgh scored three more power-play goals against the Flyers. In seven meetings, counting the regular season, the Penguins have tallied at least five goals six times. There is no reason to think the Flyers will suddenly figure out a way to keep captain Sidney Crosby and high-flying Pittsburgh in check.
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol didn't make any significant adjustments following the 7-0 Game 1 thrashing and Philly rebounded with a 5-1 win Friday to even the series.
Turns out Pens coach Mike Sullivan was right to be relatively unconcerned beforehand, saying "I know we didn't get the result we wanted, but there was a lot to like in Game 2." There was even more for him to like in Game 3.
The two-time defending champion Penguins withstood the Flyers' first-period surge, featuring excellent scoring chances from centers Nolan Patrick, Sean Couturier , Val Filppula and winger Travis Konecny that they couldn't get past goalie Matt Murray.
"They came hard," Crosby said. "We expected that. That was a great job by (Murray) allowing us to settle in."
"Murray saved us," said defenseman Brian Dumoulin.
Despite holding an 11-4 shot advantage, Philly trailed at the end of the period when Crosby beat slow-reacting goalie Brian Elliott after a Michael Raffl turnover.
Essentially, the Flyers wasted a solid first period and their shot at winning.
"We had a lot of chances to get the lead and the goalie made some big saves for them," said Flyers captain Claude Giroux, who did not have one of his better outings.
Crosby, as he has done so many times before, turned the tide with his goal after the Pens didn't have a shot on goal for the first 9 1/2 minutes.
"It was huge," said Pittsburgh center Derick Brassard . "That kind of quieted the crowd a little bit and we just built on our game."
Crosby excels in hostile buildings, which the Wells Fargo Center certainly is. He's booed every time he touches the puck and fans apparently placed photos of Crosby in urinals around the building.
"I don't know if they stole that idea from someone else, but that's not the first time that has happened," he said.
Rookie Patrick, who was one of the Flyers' most active players, insisted Crosby's goal didn't take the wind out of the Flyers' sails — rather, it was "totally undisciplined penalties. You can't do that against that team."
Pittsburgh didn't waste its chances, scoring three goals in a span of 4 minutes, 5 seconds of the second.
A pair of Pittsburgh power-play goals (by Brassard and fellow center Evgeni Malkin ), the second of which Dumoulin (from Crosby) followed a mere five seconds later to make it 4-0, and the Flyers, who allowed four goals on 12 shots, were done.
So what can Hakstol do to give the Flyers their best shot to even the series on Wednesday evening?
Hakstol could try starting goalie Petr Mrazek, who replaced Elliott after five goals in the opener, but the inconsistent Mrazek hasn't shown that he's capable of providing any tangible lift.
He could switch up his personnel in search of a more effective combination — maybe put Konecny back on the No. 1 line instead of Raffl — or just to change things up a bit. He could make some subtle style adjustments, but that's about it.
As for Sullivan, there's no reason for him to do anything more than minor tinkering because he has the superior players — led by the terrific Crosby, who had a goal and three assists — the better goalie and better team.
Those are three significant obstacles for the Flyers to overcome.