Flyers

Flyers' bad start costly as comeback attempt falls short in loss to Jets

Flyers

The Flyers fell behind by three goals early Sunday night and couldn't complete what would have been their best comeback of the season.

John Tortorella's club drew even just 2:35 minutes into the third period but lost to the Jets, 5-3, at the Wells Fargo Center.

Kevin Hayes scored a pair of power play goals, the second a game-tying one early in the final frame. Ivan Provorov netted the Flyers' other marker on the night.

Karson Kuhlman scored Winnipeg's game-winner. It was stoppable for Felix Sandstrom.

"I ended up in between what I wanted to do, so it was a real bad play on my part," the Flyers' backup goalie said. "It sucks with the timing that we were chasing back and that punished us hard. I'm really disappointed in myself with that. Not the best performance there in that situation."

The Jets iced the game with an empty-netter.

Winnipeg improved to 22-1-0 when taking a lead into the third period. Its 3-0 advantage before the halfway point of the first period was ultimately insurmountable.

Tortorella was curt in his postgame press conference, which went no longer than one minute and 30 seconds.

"You're asking me questions you have answers to," the agitated head coach said.

The Flyers (20-21-7) were playing their fifth game in seven days and the second game of a back-to-back set, but that can't be used as an excuse for their start. The Jets also played Saturday on the road in Ottawa, Ontario.

Despite the three-goal deficit, Tortorella still felt the Flyers played a "good first period."

 

Why?

"We had chances, we had chances," Tortorella said. "They did. We had a major breakdown in front of our net, it's in our net. A tip-in goal is a tip-in goal. We had chances, we just didn't capitalize."

In six days, the Flyers see the Jets (31-16-1) again Saturday when they visit Winnipeg, Manitoba.

• Tortorella knew this was going to be a tough one.

The Jets are one of the top goal-prevention clubs in the NHL. They entered with the league's second-ranked penalty kill (84.9 percent) and yielding the fourth-fewest goals per game (2.62).

"Big team, really good team, well-coached, personnel right on through," Tortorella said pregame. "It's a very difficult game for us."

Winnipeg jumped all over the Flyers. It was evident why the Jets are so sound defensively. Their defensive-zone exits are crisp and with pace. They come after you with size and skill.

Felt like a perfect storm with the Flyers appearing sluggish, a concern we highlighted last night.

Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele quickly buried the Flyers in a 3-0 first-period hole with markers over the span of just 3:38 minutes.

The deficit spelled trouble considering the Jets came in 27-2-0 when they score three or more goals.

"I actually thought we had some really good chances," Hayes said. "It felt like all their chances were going in. All of a sudden you look up and it's 3-nothing. I don't think anyone wants to be in that position."

Provorov answered with 1:21 minutes left in the opening stanza to keep the Flyers within striking distance entering the second period.

"I don't know if it was anything too serious," Owen Tippett said. "They just capitalized on their chances. Thought we did some good things all night and found a way to stay in it."

Flyers' comeback bid grounded by high-flying Jets

• Sandstrom, recently back from his two-week conditioning stint at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, made his first start in 40 days.

The 26-year-old was ambushed by the Jets, who put three goals on him in the first eight and a half minutes of the action.

Sure, Sandstrom showed some rust, but he didn't get much early help, either.

Winnipeg transitioned like gangbusters and the Flyers looked a step behind almost the entire first period.

"I think Felix has put in some really good minutes. We need another save," Tortorella said pregame. "That's the next step for him. Now I'm not sure if that happens. He's going to get the opportunity, but he needs to make the next save — I think you'll see him in the win column more."

Sandstrom needed to make that next save. Just prior to Kuhlman's game-winner, the Flyers had killed off 28 seconds of a 5-on-3 Jets power play and then the ensuing 5-on-4.

The club's penalty kill went 5 for 5.

Sandstrom made 25 saves on 29 shots.

The Flyers on Friday sent Samuel Ersson back to the Phantoms. The move was not performance-related. They want him playing a ton of games and didn't want to expose Sandstrom on waivers.

 

Not an easy call, though, because Ersson was a significant factor in the Flyers winning five games on this season-best stretch (9-4-0 since holiday break).

Winnipeg backup David Rittich stopped 28 of the Flyers' 31 shots.

• Over the last 11 games, Hayes has 13 points (six goals, seven assists).

His first power play marker came on an impressive shot from a crazy side angle. The second was from the circle off of a big rebound.

Tony DeAngelo picked up assists on both but finished with a minus-4 rating.

• After a day off Monday, the Flyers host the Kings on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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