It's not how you start, it's how you finish.
The old adage summed up how the Flyers lost Game 3 to the Islanders, 3-1, Saturday night at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
If the Flyers don't change the script, they'll lose this best-of-seven second-round playoff series. They now trail the series 2-1. The Flyers are 7-22 all-time in best-of-seven series when down 2-1.
Tyler Pitlick scored the Flyers' lone goal, which came in the first period. Four of the Flyers' five goals this series have come in the opening 20 minutes, while the other was Philippe Myers' overtime winner in Game 2. Do the math there and the Flyers have not scored a goal in the second or third period through three games of the series.
• Once again, Alain Vigneault's Flyers will have to get back up on the horse after a defeat.
Since Jan. 7, in games after their last 11 losses, the Flyers are 11-0-0 and have outscored the opposition 48-22.
Another response is needed Sunday night or the Flyers' Stanley Cup hopes will be in serious jeopardy.
The Flyers have to be a heck of a lot better in the third period against New York, which has outscored the orange and black 11-2 in the final stanza this season.
"I had said before the series, this is going to be a greasy series," Vigneault said postgame in a video interview. "That means that you’ve got to get involved, you've got to want to go to the tough areas. We’ve been good at bouncing back and I’m confident that’s what we’re going to tomorrow."
• The Flyers' big boys were not very noticeable, which should be justifiably disappointing for Flyers fans given how much better the team's top producers were in Game 2.
It did not translate into Game 3.
Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny remain without a goal in the playoffs through 12 games. Konecny led the club with 24 markers in the regular season, while Giroux was fourth with 21. By no means have they been awful, but those two are paid to produce goals.
"Just keep grinding," Giroux said postgame in a video interview. "I think the last few games have been a little better. I think our line can do better, we know that. We generate some offense, but at the end of the day, it’s got to go in the net."
Sean Couturier, who had a multi-point Game 2, was held to one shot in Game 3. Jakub Voracek is scoreless in the series after putting up seven points (four goals, three assists) in six games against the Canadiens during the first round.
• The Islanders made the Flyers pay dearly for a late second-period mistake as they grabbed a 2-1 lead with six seconds left in the middle stanza.
Both Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen were uncharacteristically sloppy in the defensive zone. Leo Komarov finished the sequence by squeaking the puck past Carter Hart.
A bad and costly lapse by the Flyers, especially given how defensive the Islanders can be when they have a lead later in the game.
"It was 1-1, 25 seconds left into the [second] period, faceoff in the offensive zone, put my top players on the ice — top line, top D pair — and to give up that late goal, you just can't do that at this time of the year," Vigneault said.
New York was flat-out better than the Flyers in second period, outshooting them 15-6. Hart had 23 overall saves by the end of the middle stanza.
Mathew Barzal continued to be a nightmare for the Flyers, setting up the Islanders' first goal to tie the game at 1-1 a little over seven minutes into the frame.
• There were only three penalties called in the game and none through the first two periods. Two of the whistles were on Robert Hagg, who had a costly third-period performance. Will it cost him his lineup spot in Game 4? We'll see.
The first power play came 2:28 into the third period as Hagg was called for slashing.
New York took full advantage of the opportunity with Anders Lee's third goal of the series, giving the Islanders their commanding 3-1 lead.
• Hart wasn't good but wasn't bad, finishing with 26 saves. Really, he's not a problem at all.
New York goalie Semyon Varlamov rebounded after being yanked in Game 2. He made 26 saves on 27 shots.
• Pitlick, who was acquired in an offseason trade, has 10 goals with the Flyers — eight in the regular season, two in the playoffs.
He's been a rock-solid role forward who can play with a lot of players and is constantly noticeable in his north-south style.
The 28-year-old has only a $1 million cap hit and can become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.
• Scott Laughton was back in the lineup as Michael Raffl came out.
Raffl, a key role forward with size and puck-protection ability, played only 10:18 minutes in Game 2 and it's unknown if he's dealing with any ailments. Raffl missed four games earlier in the tournament because of a lower-body injury and he departed Game 1 of this series briefly before returning to the ice not long after he was checked on the bench by Flyers director of sports medicine Jim McCrossin.
After leading the Eastern Conference's round robin in points (five) and goals (three), Laughton had not looked like himself at all over the first and second rounds, going scoreless in seven games with four giveaways, which led to the 26-year-old coming out of the lineup in Game 2.
The third line of Pitlick, Laughton and James van Riemsdyk was the Flyers' best unit in Game 3.
Here's how the Flyers looked at forward:
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek Joel Farabee-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny James van Riemsdyk-Scott Laughton-Tyler Pitlick Derek Grant-Nate Thompson-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
• Vigneault's pregame media availability was far from a run-of-the-mill session.
• Prior to puck drop and following the postponement of the playoffs Thursday and Friday, there was a special pregame message to put a focus on the current societal issues of racism and racial injustice.
• The teams are right back at it Sunday as the series continues with Game 4 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
For the full series schedule, click here.