The scenery was beautiful with a bright sun shining as it set in the first period.
Everything went dark from there for the Flyers in their NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe game Sunday.
The Flyers surrendered another hat trick to David Pastrnak and yielded four second-period goals en route to an ugly 7-3 loss to the Bruins in Stateline, Nevada.
Taking the outdoors without six important players, the odds were stacked against the Flyers before puck drop. They needed Carter Hart to be near lights out. Instead, the 22-year-old goalie was out of the game by the third period.
The Flyers (8-4-3) are 0-3-2 against Boston this season and 8-1-1 against everyone else.
The Bruins (11-3-2) have outscored the Flyers 23-12 in the five matchups. The Flyers see Boston three more times.
• Hart looked the opposite of himself. He had real difficulty tracking pucks and stopping seeing-eye shots. He usually makes so many of those saves.
Outdoor games are typically most challenging for netminders. Who knows if the elements got the best of him. There were audio issues with Hart's mic postgame. He fielded a pair of questions but his answers were inaudible. Not his fault.
The Flyers had not been able to test out the ice and sight lines this weekend prior to warmups.
Regardless, Hart struggled mightily and the game got away from the Flyers in spiraling fashion. Boston owned the second period with goals from Pastrnak, Trent Frederic, Charlie Coyle and Nick Ritchie. The Bruins outshot the Flyers 15-3 in the middle frame. For the game overall, Boston goalie Tuukka Rask had to make only 16 saves, 11 of which came in the first period.
It was a 2-2 game at first intermission and then it wasn't a game by second intermission.
Twice the Bruins have put up six goals on Hart this season. That won't be a common occurrence in Hart's career, but the young goalie has been inconsistent so far. He has also faced a ton of shots.
The Flyers were undermanned, they weren't very good against one of the NHL's top clubs and Hart was not good at all. It was just a recipe for disaster.
Brian Elliott stopped 11 of 12 shots in the third period.
• In the first four matchups between the Flyers and Bruins, Boston had dominated the third period. The final 20 minutes were the biggest difference in the Bruins going a perfect 4-0-0 against the Flyers. They had outscored the Flyers 11-5 in the final stanza. In three of their four victories, they erased a third-period deficit.
The Flyers had actually surrendered only four goals to Boston over the first two periods combined in those four matchups.
Boston flipped that trend at Lake Tahoe by flipping the game upside down on the Flyers during the second period. If the Flyers' Lake Tahoe trip wasn't already soured a bit by the team not having six players and going through a bunch of adjustments Saturday, the Bruins soured it completely with four goals in the middle frame. They had six goals over the first two periods.
“To tell you the truth, obviously those are important players, but we had a good team tonight and we showed it in the first period, played extremely smart and hard," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said. "A couple of shifts got away from us in that second, but our guys battled and competed. And at the end of the day, as a coach, a coaching staff and an organization, you want your guys to go out and compete. We’d like to have a couple of those shifts back in the second but they got away from us a little bit there.”
The Flyers had a 2-1 lead at one point and their first period was solid. They were outshot 27-8 the rest of the way.
• The Flyers held Pastrnak to one goal in four games last season, including the round-robin contest.
Pastrnak has dominated them this season with eight points (six goals, two assists) in three matchups.
There's no denying the Flyers' shot and goal prevention problems are concerning 15 games into the season. Those areas were staples for Vigneault's club last season.
• With concerns over the ice surface because of extreme sun, the NHL changed the start time of the game twice before Sunday. The puck was dropped at 4:59 PT with a glaring sunset. While aesthetically pleasing for the viewer, it had to be challenging for the players.
"I thought the hardest part was probably in the first with all the sun and being blinded by the sun at some places — it was kind of dangerous sometimes," Sean Couturier said. "It was the same thing for both teams. In the second and the third, I think the environment, the playing field was better for both teams. They were better than us; we’ve got to give them credit.”
That's a quote the NHL should consider when planning future outdoor games.
• One positive for the Flyers was James van Riemsdyk kept humming offensively. He had a three-point night (one goal, two assists) and has 21 points through 15 games.
Couturier (one goal, one assist) and Kevin Hayes (two assists) also had multi-point games, while Joel Farabee matched his goal total from last season by netting his eighth marker.
The Flyers employed 11 forwards and seven defensemen, with blueliner Mark Friedman entering the lineup and playing some right winger.
• Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom, Scott Laughton and Justin Braun remained on the NHL's COVID protocol list Sunday night. All six have missed the Flyers' two games back since the club's NHL-mandated seven-day shutdown forced by multiple cases of COVID-19 within the team.
Giroux missed consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 20-25, 2016, when he was out for three straight with an injury. Vigneault confirmed that Giroux had tested positive for the coronavirus Feb. 9, which is when the captain and Braun were placed on the COVID protocol list. Voracek was added to the list Feb. 11, Lindblom and Laughton went on Feb. 12 and Konecny was the most recent addition Feb. 14.
There are a number of contributing factors for why a player can be placed on the COVID protocol list. A player being out because of COVID protocol does not necessarily mean the player tested positive for the coronavirus.
Players who test positive can't rejoin team activities for at least 14 days from the initial positive test.
• The Flyers will fly home Monday, practice Tuesday and host the Rangers on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSN).
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