Ravaged by the coronavirus, the undermanned Flyers were rolled by the streaking Penguins, 6-2, Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Because of COVID protocols and injuries, the Flyers (13-15-6) were down nine players.
Cam Atkinson and Oskar Lindblom scored for the Flyers, who have lost four straight (0-3-1).
The Flyers were trailing 3-1 at second intermission but ran out of gas as Pittsburgh ran away with the game.
"Whether it was because we looked at our lineup and didn't think that we had enough, I'm not sure. To be honest with you, I'm not sure," Flyers interim head coach Mike Yeo said. "We'll have a discussion about that tomorrow and try to get to the bottom of it.
"But bottom line is, going forward, we have an opportunity to prove that that's not us. That's the situation that we're in in the season, that's the situation we were in in the game tonight. That's how we responded. How are we going to respond going forward? Obviously I'm very hopeful that it will be differently."
The Penguins (20-8-5) have won 10 straight, a stretch in which they've outscored the opposition 45-20. Nine of those victories have come in regulation.
• The Flyers were without Claude Giroux, Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Travis Sanheim, Nick Seeler and Jackson Cates. All six were in the NHL's COVID protocol.
The club was also missing Sean Couturier (upper body), Ryan Ellis (lower body) and Nate Thompson (shoulder).
"You have nine, 10 guys out, six guys in protocol," Scott Laughton said. "It's a tough league to win that way."
The Flyers' lineup featured seven players with fewer than 100 games of NHL experience: Zack MacEwen, Patrick Brown, Connor Bunnaman, Morgan Frost, Max Willman, Cam York and Egor Zamula.
Three 21-year-olds played 18 or more minutes for the Flyers: York, Zamula and Joel Farabee.
Pittsburgh, dealing with some injuries of its own (Evgeni Malkin, Jeff Carter and Jason Zucker), jumped on the Flyers with three goals in the final eight minutes of the first period.
Bryan Rust scored the first two — one on the power play, the other at 4-on-4 — and Jake Guentzel netted the third, which was deemed a goal after video review.
"It's a tough league to chase and we've been doing that quite a bit," Laughton said. "Try and lead by example, work as hard as you can. That's pretty much it. I'm not sure what to say. You've got to skate and work and try to create energy for your team. It sucks right now. I don't know what to say."
A victory for the Flyers would have stood as a significant upset. The Flyers will hope they can get healthier — and quickly. They've lost serious momentum from that season-best seven-game point streak that followed their 10-game losing skid.
The other day, Yeo hit on the importance of the Flyers staying with the pack as they try to build a playoff push. Tough to do it without so many key pieces.
"We can look at where we're at right now in the season, we can just sort of accept our fate for the rest of the way and say maybe it's not our year, bad luck, this and that. And you can do the same thing in a game or you can fight," Yeo said. "You can determine your own fate, regardless of what the circumstances are. There are going to be times where maybe you don't get the result that you're looking for but you're going to go down swinging if that's the case. I didn't think we did that tonight, so I think that's the biggest thing that we have to address."
• During a second-period power play, Farabee flubbed two shots and then missed a pass near the blue line.
Frustrated fans bellowed boos.
Despite a new stick awaiting him right on the bench, Farabee went directly up the tunnel. He likely did so to let out some of his own frustration, perhaps obliterating that old stick.
His very next shift, with a new twig, he assisted Atkinson's goal as the Flyers trimmed the Penguins' lead to 3-1.
Good response from the 21-year-old.
The Flyers played an effort-filled middle stanza but their lack of playmakers and finishers showed.
• With a decimated roster, the Flyers were going to need a lights-out type of performance from Carter Hart.
Evan Rodrigues scored a backbreaking goal on a third-period breakaway to cushion Pittsburgh's lead to 4-1. A minute and a half later, Guentzel got behind the Flyers' defense to ice the game with his second.
Brian Boyle beat Hart with a shorthanded goal to tack on one more for good measure.
Hart had no chance on Rust's power play marker and he nearly denied Guentzel's first goal on the doorstep.
The 23-year-old finished with 26 stops. Too much Pittsburgh.
"We've just got to get back to practice tomorrow, work on some details and ... get healthy," Hart said.
Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry had to make only 18 saves.
• The Flyers are scheduled to practice Friday in Voorhees, New Jersey before hosting the Sharks on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
Which Flyers could be back in the lineup? More on that here.
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