Brian Elliott likely to start Game 2 after atrocious opener vs. Penguins

Sidney Crosby led the Penguins past the Flyers with a hat trick, the third of his playoff career, as they won 7-0.

The Philadelphia Flyers aren’t exactly known for solid goaltending.

Heading into their Round 1 series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the good news was that the Flyers’ No. 1 goalie was back healthy. Brian Elliott missed nearly two months of action with an injury but played the final two regular season games and posted two wins against Carolina and the NY Rangers, allowing three goals combined.

But in Game 1 against the Penguins, Elliott was chased from the net halfway into the game. The 33-year-old allowed five goals on 19 shots as the Penguins, led by Sidney Crosby’s hat trick, ran away with a 7-0 drubbing.

“Right now, my first instinct is yeah,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said in his post-game comments when asked if Elliott would start Game 2. “You know what, he’s our guy. He’s a huge reason why our team was able to put ourselves into a position to be in the playoffs. In terms of his presence in our dressing room and the trust that we all have in him, that’s a pretty big factor.

“So, you know what, like everything else, we’ll look hard at it, but right now my first gut instinct is that he’s our guy and I don’t see a reason why we would go away from him.”

If the Flyers ever did need to turn to another netminder this series, they don’t have many strong options. Petr Mrazek, who was acquired at the trade deadline, stepped in relief for Elliott in Game 1 and allowed two goals on 14 shots. After a strong first three starts for the Flyers after the trade in February, Mrazek finished the season with a sub-.900 save percentage. In his final 14 starts, he allowed more than three goals six times.

Usual backup Michal Neuvirth is hurt, while undrafted 25-year-old Alex Lyon is with the AHL team. He went 4-2-1 with a .905 save percentage in his appearances for the Flyers this season.

While Elliott did certainly have a hand in getting the Flyers this far, leading the team with 23 wins, his history is one of an erratic netminder. As a member of the Calgary Flames last season, Elliott’s strong middle of the season was offset by a terrible start and finish. Even after the Flames reached the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Elliott allowed 12 goals in four appearances and was pulled five minutes into Game 4 as the Flames were swept out of Round 1 by Anaheim.

“You look at the five against, a couple lateral plays, one that we screened him on ourselves,” Hakstol said. “It’s a tough night. I left him in there after the first (period) after the fourth [goal] because I thought there was a lot of areas of his game where he was seeing the game, he was battling hard. You just want to give him the opportunity to battle through. Obviously, after the fifth one, I just wanted to get him out of there.”

Game 2 in the Flyers-Penguins series goes Friday at 7:00 p.m. ET and you can watch it on CBC.

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