Alain Vigneault said take a deep breath.
Claude Giroux said let's win this.
And the Flyers did.
Following the lead of their head coach and captain, the Flyers delivered a comeback their fans will brag about in the rivalry with the Penguins. Vigneault's club erased an early 3-0 deficit to knock off Pittsburgh, 4-3, Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena. Giroux scored the game-winning goal with 2:08 left in regulation.
Giroux put up his second three-point performance in five games back from his bout with the coronavirus.
The Flyers (12-5-3) pulled off the come-from-behind victory without Joel Farabee. The team's second-leading scorer was placed on the NHL's COVID protocol list Thursday, forcing Vigneault to switch up all of his lines at morning skate.
The Flyers' 27 points matches the team's best start through 20 games since the 2005-06 season (12-5-3).
The Penguins (12-9-1) saw the return of Sidney Crosby, who was activated off the COVID protocol list and recorded an assist.
The three-game set was turned up in physicality as the Flyers outhit Pittsburgh 42-38.
• Giroux willed the Flyers to this win.
The 33-year-old brought the Flyers within 3-2 in the second period and assisted Scott Laughton's game-tying goal in the third period.
A truly impressive display by an all-time Flyer.
Prior to the victory, the Flyers had not won yet when trailing after the second period.
Giroux was the biggest reason that stat changed Thursday night.
Giroux moved to the middle with Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Oskar Lindblom on his wings. The two wingers finished with a pair of assists.
• Four minutes into the game, Sean Couturier was snapping his stick over the crossbar and Vigneault was calling a timeout.
The head coach needed to talk things over and cool things down after his team surrendered three goals before anyone could blink.
Kris Letang, Mark Friedman and Jared McCann did the honors for Pittsburgh. When McCann put the Flyers in the 3-0 hole, Couturier unleashed his frustration and Vigneault knew it was time to regroup.
To the Flyers' credit, they did and gave themselves a chance entering the middle frame.
• Brian Elliott didn't allow a goal the rest of the way. The early goals weren't really on him. He converted 26 saves and improved to 6-1-0.
• Philippe Myers took a hard hit from Anthony Angello midway through the second period. Myers was able to stay in the game but did not return for the third period.
• "Be a pest out there as much as I can be," Friedman said before making his NHL debut with the Flyers back in April 2019.
The former Flyer has always had a reputation of playing with an edge and effectively drawing penalties. Against the Flyers, he has shown that bite. In his Penguins debut Tuesday night, the 25-year-old defenseman recorded an assist and drew a penalty against Michael Raffl.
On Thursday night, Friedman and Nolan Patrick indulged in the feistiness. Friedman, who was practicing with the Flyers just over a week ago, scored his first career NHL goal against his old club in the first period.
Friedman and Patrick then clashed in numerous physical sequences. The final occurrence took place 2:31 into the second period when Friedman and Patrick both hit each other. Friedman looked to be zeroing in on a check but Patrick was ready for it. The Flyers' center braced for the hit by standing his ground and essentially delivering a hit of his own, which was clean.
Friedman appeared shaken up and imbalanced as he was forced to exit the game. He did not return.
"Hockey hits," Vigneault said postgame. "Hits are a part of this game and unfortunately for Mark he got hurt on that play. But this is a physical game and it's very unfortunate that he got hurt."
• Couturier has been a beast since returning from a costochondral separation that sidelined him for 10 games. After destroying his stick, Couturier laced a power play goal with a fresh twig to put the Flyers on the board in the first period.
A stabilizing type of player, Couturier helped the Flyers calm the storm. In the process, he extended his career-high point streak to eight games (six goals, six assists).
• Travis Konecny had two assists and rung two posts. He was good in his second game back from COVID-19.
• The Flyers wrap up their five-game road trip Saturday against the Penguins (1 p.m. ET/NBCSP) before welcoming fans back to the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday against the Capitals (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
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