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Flyers' special teams melt down in Game 3 blowout at home

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Flyers' special teams melt down in Game 3 blowout at home

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The Wells Fargo Center flickered with light-up bracelets doled out to fans from the rink-side seats to the nosebleeds.

But as the Flyers unraveled Monday evening and the glow dimmed, the bracelets went from flickering in the stands to fluttering to the ice.

It was the culmination of a special night gone awry and a series gone wrong.

In Game 3 of their best-of-seven first-round playoff series against the Capitals, the Flyers went from a 1-0 lead in the opening 57 seconds to a 6-1 catastrophe as their season now reaches the edge of the plank — a 3-0 series deficit to the NHL’s best (see Instant Replay).

“Well, emotional roller coaster, for sure,” Mark Streit said. “To have such a touching ceremony and we came out flying, scored a goal right away, and then somehow we lose that momentum — that can’t happen, especially against a team like that.”

The night started with such promise for the Flyers before fans ditched their bracelets and filed for the exits (see story). The arena lit up like a Christmas tree while Flyers Stanley Cup Playoff logos flashed on the ice. The pregame pump-up gave way to a beautiful video tribute and moment of silence honoring and remembering the life of beloved founder Ed Snider, who died on April 11.

In what seemed like seconds after “God Bless America” was sung, Michael Raffl sent the crowd into bedlam by giving the Flyers their first lead in the series.

“I thought we came out and had a great start,” Wayne Simmonds said. “We kept pushing.”

The Flyers did, but eventually the special teams blues reared their ugly head.

Washington went on the game’s first power play and, as it did in Game 2, promptly cashed in on the first shot taken when Marcus Johannson deflected it past Steve Mason for a 1-1 tie at 4:43 of the opening period.

At 8:50 of the second frame, the lead was gone.

Alex Ovechkin sprung out from standing behind a referee in front of the Capitals’ bench, quickly gathered the puck and ripped it just between the post and a slow-reacting Mason.

As Washington capitalized, the Flyers sputtered. The power play, already 0 for 8 in the series entering the game, looked so out of sorts it was hard to decipher which team had the extra man.

The Flyers went goalless on their first three power plays, registering just one shot.

“Yeah, I mean, we can talk about the power play all we want,” Shayne Gostisbehere said. “It is a big part of the game, but five-on-five is more important to us. It is our chance to capitalize on the power play, but if it’s not coming, it’s not coming.

“We’re going to keep pushing, doing our plays, doing our sets, our breakouts. You know, hopefully we’ll get one.”

They never did Monday.

The Flyers finished 0 for 5 and are 0 for 13 over the series. Including the regular season, the Flyers have just three goals on their last 30 man advantages.

“Obviously, it’s not going for us,” Simmonds said. “There’s nothing we can do about it, all you have to do is you’ve got to make your bounces. You’ve got to keep working, keep working and hopefully things will change.

“You’ve got to make sure you go out there and work your butt off and make your chances. This is not going to change easy. It’s up to us to go out there and take responsibility and be the team that we can be.”

The Capitals then morphed into the team they’ve been, blitzing the Flyers and running the fans out of the building. Washington reeled off four power-play goals in the final stanza, flipping a one-goal cushion into a five-goal blowout.

It started when Mason had trouble gloving a wacky bounce off the stanchion, allowing Evgeny Kuznetsov to flush an easy puck 1:58 into the third period.

Not long after John Carlson sniped his third goal of the series for a 4-1 Capitals lead, the Flyers’ frustrations boiled over. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Radko Gudas and Ryan White were all tossed at 12:17 after a scrum just as the bracelet fiasco commenced.

“It’s not too fun,” Claude Giroux said. “We take a lot of pride playing in front of our fans and we want to play hard — that’s our identity. It’s not too fun.”

Washington tacked on two more for good measure and the meltdown was complete.

“The game got away from us in the last 10 minutes,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “You have to be able to separate that out. The third goal against, the way it happened took the wind out of our sails a little bit.”

Not just the game, but also the series.

“They’re a good team,” Giroux said. “They dominated all year. We just have to find a way to beat them.”

And do it four times.

Morgan Frost provides a highlight but Flyers are left looking for more answers following 4th straight loss

Morgan Frost provides a highlight but Flyers are left looking for more answers following 4th straight loss

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Morgan Frost offered a snapshot of what the Flyers hope is a prosperous future for the skillful playmaker.

The present on Tuesday night did not depict as pretty of a picture.

The Flyers fell behind 4-1 during the second period, Carter Hart was yanked and a 5-2 loss to the Panthers at BB&T Center marked the final result.

Frost gave the Flyers a highlight on a night that didn't feature many for Alain Vigneault's club. The 2017 first-round pick deposited a dazzling goal in his NHL debut but the Flyers (10-7-4) dropped their fourth straight game, a losing skid that has come directly after a season-best four-game winning streak.

The Panthers (11-5-5) can score goals with the best teams in the NHL. They were also allowing 3.55 per game, fourth worst in the league, but kept the Flyers at bay.

• Hart had been so good in November. When he's not on his game, the Flyers can be exposed, which is exactly what happened against Florida.

The 21-year-old goalie entered 4-1-1 with a 1.77 goals-against average and .934 save percentage this month. He wasn't good Tuesday, the Flyers didn't help him and things unraveled.

The first period set the tone when the Panthers' first goal went off Andy Andreoff's stick. Then Hart allowed Brett Connolly to score from a crazy angle off the netminder's back.

Hart had allowed only one first-period goal over his previous five starts. Florida got him twice in the opening frame and ended his night midway through the second period with its fourth goal.

• The Flyers have now allowed more goals (61) than they've scored (60). During the four-game losing streak, they've scored 1.75 goals per game.

Vigneault continues to plead for more from his veterans. They simply have not answered his call and the Flyers are more than a quarter way into the season. The Flyers' record is very indicative of what they've received from their big boys.

Kevin Hayes recorded his first point in 10 games with a first-period assist on Travis Sanheim's goal. He played 19:01 minutes, four-plus at shorthanded. James van Riemsdyk went scoreless and played 12:56, his second-lowest ice time of the season. Jakub Voracek went scoreless, as well, in 15:31 minutes.

That trio has combined for 30 points in 21 games. The Flyers have to find a way to spark those three, along with Claude Giroux.

• Frost was a nice positive. He played with pace, he was active and was consistently a threat. His goal was very Frost-like.

Expect Vigneault to give him another game with Giroux and Travis Konecny.

• Joel Farabee made a costly turnover that led to Aleksander Barkov's second-period goal, which put the Flyers in a 3-1 hole. The Flyers were also slow to get back on the play. Bad all the way around (see highlights).

The 19-year-old was a minus-2 with three giveaways. He's a kid and there will be growing pains. Farabee snapped his stick in frustration when he went to the bench. Now it's a matter of seeing if he can play his way out of some struggles.

• Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen were a combined minus-5. Shayne Gostisbehere played only 14:33. While the Panthers pounced on mistakes, the Flyers couldn't fend them off or get much going at 5-on-5.

The Flyers went 0 for 2 on the power play.

• The Flyers stay on the road and visit the Hurricanes Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

 

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Flyers' Morgan Frost scores first career NHL goal in filthy fashion

Flyers' Morgan Frost scores first career NHL goal in filthy fashion

When he received the news on Sunday that he was being called up to the Flyers, Morgan Frost thought about the hard work it took to make the NHL.

The kid scored 106 goals and 310 points in 257 junior hockey games for the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Over his final two seasons, he erupted for 221 points (79 goals, 142 assists) in 125 games.

That's a lot of scoring, which got him noticed.

“It’s obviously cliché, but it’s every kid’s dream, you dream about it growing up," Frost said Monday of being called up to make his NHL debut. "Honestly, after I got that call, I didn’t really know what to do for like an hour. So much joy, just so many things running through your head and everything you’ve worked for. Great feeling.”

Now he has the feeling of scoring his first career NHL goal. And, boy, did he show his skill while doing it Tuesday night against the Panthers at BB&T Center.

When the 20-year-old center gets in deep, he can make these types of plays on a goalie, even Sergei Bobrovsky.

Frost will always remember that one.

 

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More on the Flyers