You can live on borrowed time for only so long.
The Flyers' eight-game winning streak was anything but perfect.
In two of their last three games, the Flyers put themselves in position to fight back and tie the game in the third period. And in three of those eight games, they had to rally from two-goal deficits.
Against the Kings Thursday night, the Flyers were forced to play catch-up once again, and it eventually caught up to them in a 3-2 shootout loss (see observations).
Jakub Voracek snapped a shot over Jonathan Quick’s shoulder with 18 seconds remaining to force overtime, which gave the appearance the Flyers could mask their blemishes from the previous 59 minutes, especially the opening 20.
The Flyers were actually celebrating a ninth straight win until video review conclusively determined that Adrian Kempe's shootout attempt hit the back of the net and not the crossbar.
#HockeyOps explains video review of Adrian Kempe’s goal in the shootout in the @LAKings/@NHLFlyers game. https://t.co/n2lAOYrKHd #LAKvsPHI— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 8, 2019
“To be honest with you, I don’t think we even deserved a point,” Voracek said. “I think it was our luckiest game out of those last nine. We were lucky to get one point.”
Which is truly unfortunate.
The Kings came into this game as the worst team in the West and an organization that had just traded one of its best defensemen to Toronto a week earlier. Los Angeles was also playing its third game in four nights, and yet the Flyers appeared like the tired team in the first period.
“I think it was about us only,” Voracek said. “I think we were reaching for the pucks instead of just taking one more step, and just swinging at pucks and turning them over instead of taking one more step and making a hard play.”
Which is why the Flyers were outshot, 31-20, after two periods and were heavily outnumbered in scoring chances, 23-10. Throughout the eight-game winning streak, the numbers had been working against the Flyers, except for the final score. They had been outshot by an average of 37-28.
Still, the one constant over this stretch of hockey has been the impressive degree of consistency in goal. With Carter Hart receiving a rare night off, Anthony Stolarz turned in another outstanding effort with 37 saves, coming off a 1-0 shutout over the Rangers on Jan. 29.
“We weren’t sharp on details, but whatever the score was, Stolie gave us a chance,” Sean Couturier said. “He made us believe and we battled back to get a big point. Down the road, it might be huge.”
Considering the depth of the hole they dug throughout the first half of the season, the Flyers can’t begin to squander any more points.
They all matter, including the one that slipped away in the shootout as the Flyers now find themselves eight points back of the Penguins for that final wild-card spot.
The streak may be over, but we’ll discover soon if all that confidence can be carried over.
“Hopefully, it’s a lesson learned,” interim head coach Scott Gordon said.
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