You can get away with mistakes against teams like the Canadiens or the Senators.
Against the Penguins, you’ll get buried.
On Wednesday, the Flyers paid dearly as Pittsburgh scored three unanswered goals in the second period en route to a 5-2 win at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations). The Flyers’ four-game losing streak has dropped them from first to third place in the Metropolitan Division, and their playoff cushion in the wild card is now just six points.
“We’re playing good teams right now that are on top of the standings with a lot of experience, so sometimes it shows that we are not there yet,” forward Jakub Voracek said. “Obviously it was a big game today, but we’re still not there.”
This game played out very similarly to the Flyers’ 5-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Jan. 2 when the Penguins scored three goals in just over two minutes. When the Flyers weren’t killing first-period penalties, they dominated stretches of the second period. They even took the lead when Travis Konecny scored his 18th goal of the season, but inconsistency proved once again to be a killer (see highlights).
“We didn’t play a complete game 5-on-5,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “You’ve got to play a complete game throughout the 60 minutes, and we didn’t do that and that cost us.”
Conor Sheary scored two goals to lead Pittsburgh, including one in the final minute of the second period that gave Pittsburgh a 4-2 lead.
“I know on the fourth goal there, I take responsibility,” Konecny said. “I could have got the puck in deep, and then I didn’t get the puck out of the zone too. Two turnovers there and they capitalized, and it’s tough to get back in games against guys like this.”
The Flyers could have benefitted from a power-play goal, but that unit was a combined 0 for 5 even with Wayne Simmonds’ return to the lineup. The Flyers’ power play is now 1 for 19 over the last six games.
“The power play was s--- tonight and it’s frustrating,” Claude Giroux said. “We did a good job of drawing those penalties and gaining momentum, but it wasn’t good.”
“We gotta find ways to get the puck to the middle of the ice to alleviate the pressure,” Simmonds said. “Once we got it on the wall, they pressured. They did a good job not allowing us to get it off.”
Playing the Penguins also presented matchup problems for the Flyers. With the Sean Couturier line mostly battling Evgeni Malkin’s line, Hakstol attempted to contain Sidney Crosby’s line with the trio of Valtteri Filppula, Jordan Weal and Simmonds. While they didn’t play terribly, they were still collectively minus-8 and played much of the game at even strength on the defensive side of the ice.
“We made a couple of mistakes and they took advantage of it,” Simmonds said. “I think as a whole, I don’t think we were too bad, but just those couple mistakes, they put them in the back of our net.”
The Flyers are proving to be one of the NHL’s streakiest teams, both good and bad.
Now they must find a way to pump the brakes Thursday night in Boston.