DALLAS – Jakub Voracek was trying to be pragmatic after the Dallas Stars ended the NHL’s longest winning streak Saturday afternoon at American Airlines Center.
“We had a good run, but I don’t think people expected us to win every game the rest of the year,” Voracek said. “We’ll get another winning streak going on Monday [against Nashville].”
For 10 games, the Flyers owned the league, the city of Philadelphia’s heart, and hockey fans, in general. They had not seen a streak like this since 1985.
Now it’s over after a 3-1 loss (see Instant Replay) in which the Flyers almost tied the game in the third, something we have seen them do repeatedly in recent weeks. Comeback wins were the norm and expected.
Not this time.
“When we got down in that third period, we kept pushing more and more,” Voracek said. “We got a lot of bounces over the last few weeks.
“We had chances and didn’t go in. Can’t hang out heads. We had a good run and now we refocus.”
Adam Cracknell’s rebound early in the third period in the paint broke a 1-1 tie.
“They come with you and stretched us out and they were tough to contain,” said goalie Steve Mason. “Overall, they outplayed us in the second, but we found a way to go into the third tied and they got the next one.”
Flyers rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov twice almost tied it, hitting the crossbar midway into the stanza, then kissing the left post during a power play in final minutes.
“I didn’t think it went in,” Provorov said of his first shot off the bar in which some Flyers on the ice started to celebrate. “We should have created more chances.”
All through the streak, the Flyers had some clunker stretches, but in this one, they conceded considerably too much ice to Dallas off the rush, playing passively in the neutral zone and backing the play right into Mason’s lap.
Rookie call-up Taylor Leier, who picked up his first NHL point with an assist in Colorado on Wednesday, scored his first goal to get the Flyers going at 16:44 of the first period.
The 5-foot-10 forward drove the net and simply jammed Nick Cousins’ rebound in the paint through Antti Niemi’s pads. Cousins aimed his shot toward the post for Leier if it rebounded.
“It feels so surreal,” Leier said. “It happens only once. When I put my hands up in the corner I just couldn't believe it.
“All the guys were really excited and it's an exciting time. Nick made a really good play but most importantly, we were able to score the first goal and start us off right.”
Except the second period was all Dallas as the Stars outworked the Flyers everywhere. Mason let a shot from Antoine Roussel rebound off him into the high slot and Radek Faksa was right there to shoot it back into the net, making it 1-1.
“We need to be a little better that second period – they were the better team,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “I liked our third period, liked our approach, liked the way we played the game when we got down by one.
“We had confidence to go out and make plays and create. We didn’t get a positive bounce on any of those plays and came up one short.”
The Flyers came up a power play short, to be honest. All through the streak, the Flyers’ power play carried them. They scored nine power goals over the previous 10 games, yet didn’t get a sniff of a power play until the final three minutes here.
They should have gotten one late in the second period when Cracknell chopped Brayden Schenn’s stick out of his hands but … the whistle had blown for an offsides before the slash even though the officials initially indicated a penalty.
“They called a penalty back,” Wayne Simmonds said. “I’ve never seen that happen before in my life. Go figure, eh?”
The officials conferred, changed their minds about the penalty, then explained it to Hakstol.
“The way it was explained to me, it was reviewed and the point of emphasis over the past week or so, I’m sure they got it right,” he said. “They explained it pretty clearly. Strange play. You don’t see it very often.”
At the same time, as Mason pointed out, you can’t rely on getting a power play every night.
“It’s an important part but we can’t just rely on that for big goals,” he said. “We have to find a way 5-on-5, as well. We hit two posts in the third period. Maybe they go our way in another game.”
All that said, Hakstol felt the Flyers did enough to draw more than one penalty in the game and finished the game hard as they had done all through their streak.
“We worked our tails off,” he said. “There weren’t many power plays either way. They let the guys play.”