Flyers

Flyers burnt by NHL’s hottest team as key stretch begins off rails

BOX SCORE

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Flyers were short on rest, and the Panthers were long on speed.

The result was a 4-1 Flyers loss Sunday at the BB&T Center, and only a late rebound goal by Travis Konecny avoided a shutout.

All four Panthers goals came as the result of stretch passes as Evgenii Dadonov (twice), Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau took turns skating past gasping Flyers defenders.

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol didn’t blame turnovers on three of those goals, and he didn’t fault goalie Petr Mrazek, either.

“It was not the volume [of shots], but it was the absolute grade-A chances,” Hakstol said. “The number of breakaways (Mrazek) had to face … It wasn’t the turnovers. They transitioned — it was their quick transition coming out.”

Coupled with a 7-6 shootout loss Saturday to Tampa, the Flyers got just one point on their trip to Florida.

Worse yet, including a weak effort in a 4-1 loss Thursday to the Hurricanes, the Flyers have lost three straight games while maintaining their second-place standing in the Metropolitan Division.

Shayne Gostisbehere, who is a South Florida native, was asked about that short rest.

“It’s an easy excuse,” he said. “(The Panthers) haven’t played (since Friday), and we played (Saturday) afternoon. But it comes down to our readiness.

“(The Panthers) are a quick team. We knew what they were going to do, but we didn’t respect it enough. They got their chances. They were not cheating but pushing us out of the zone quickly.”

For the Flyers, who are 26-10-4 since Dec. 4, this is their third mini-losing streak in the past three months. But they've been resilient all season.

That has to give Flyers fans hope despite the talk about not being ready or watching an upstart team skate past them.

Then again, the Panthers have been the hottest team in the NHL since Jan. 30, winning 13 of 16 games. With the win over the Flyers, they went 6-0-0 during this homestand.

And with players such as Barkov, Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck and Dadonov on the top two lines, the Panthers have speed and skill.

Radko Gudas, whose interference penalty led to a Panthers power-play goal that made it 1-0 just 2:41 into the game, took some of the heat.

“It wasn’t our best defensive coverage,” he said. “The Panthers played a lot of stretch passes. They were gone, and we were still in the zone. It took us a while to adapt. We could’ve done a way better job.”

Gudas wasn’t buying the tired legs argument, either.

“It was a tough two games,” he said. “But those excuses — everybody’s in good condition. I don’t think that should be a factor at this point in the year.

“We wanted more than one point out of this trip. For us, these next two games are crucial.”

Health check
Hakstol said Johnny Oduya “got dinged up” and could not finish the game.