The Flyers played their first game in eight nights Wednesday because of the All-Star break, and the long layoff halted their momentum.
They were sloppy defensively and spent too much time in their own zone during an ugly 6-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at the sparsely filled Wells Fargo Center. The defeat snapped the Flyers’ modest two-game winning streak.
It was Detroit’s first regulation win in Philadelphia since Jan. 25, 1997, excluding the playoffs. The Flyers had been on a 16-0-1 run against the Red Wings at the Wells Fargo Center.
“We were playing some good hockey before the break,” center Scott Laughton said. “Seemed like we were watching too much tonight.”
Carter Hart didn’t get much defensive support, but the Flyers’ goalie wasn’t nearly as sharp as he was in the two games before the All-Star break. The Flyers beat Los Angeles and Winnipeg in those games.
Despite being badly outplayed in the first 40 minutes, the Flyers went into the third period facing just a 4-3 deficit — against a Detroit team that has allowed the most third-period goals (66) in the NHL.
“We were lucky to be down by one goal at that point,” interim coach Mike Yeo said after the Wings dominated the third stanza. “Going to have to regroup here. This is obviously a disappointing game. We went into the break feeling good about where we were going, and clearly that game did not match our expectations. There wasn’t really one part of our game that broke us down tonight.”
He meant that every part of their game was lacking.
Detroit outhustled the Flyers throughout the 60 minutes and finished with a 34-24 shots advantage.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) February 10, 2022
The Flyers were aiming for their first three-game winning streak since Dec. 10-14, when the defeated Vegas, Arizona and New Jersey.
The Flyers (15-23-8) and Wings (21-21-6) will meet again Saturday at noon in Detroit.
“The good thing is we get these guys again Saturday and get another crack at them,” Laughton said.
The Red Wings took a 3-2 lead as they hemmed the Flyers in their own zone for about a minute before Pius Suter scored on a wrister from the slot with 13:48 remaining in the second. Less than five minutes later, Robby Fabbri made it 4-2, finishing off a well-executed give-and-go with Suter.
Laughton cut it to 4-3 just 21 seconds later, marking the third time the Flyers scored less than 25 seconds after a Detroit tally.
But Givani Smith increased the Wings’ lead to 5-3 when he put a left-circle shot through Hart’s legs with 11:14 left in regulation. They later added an empty-net goal.
Detroit scored a pair of first-period goals, but each time, the Flyers responded. Quickly.
Twenty seconds after Dylan Larkin’s early power-play goal — his shot deflected off the skate of the Flyers’ Ivan Provorov — 6-foot-6, 225-pound left winger Isaac Ratcliffe answered for the Flyers, scoring his first NHL goal in a bizarre manner.
Fourth-line right winger Zack MacEwen whipped a turnaround shot from the high slot that deflected off Ratcliffe’s body as he battled goalie Alex Nedeljkovic for position and was credited with the goal in his third NHL game. Detroit challenged for goalie interference, but it was denied.
Ratcliffe said he had imagined his first NHL goal a million times since he was a youngster, and “I don’t think any time I drew it up that it was going to go off my pants and in. But I’ll take what I can get.”
Sanheim gets rewarded for moving up in the offensive zone. https://t.co/TYHaq5JmRn
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) February 10, 2022
Rookie left winger Lucas Raymond gave the Red Wings a 2-1 lead, putting his own rebound past Hart with 13:58 to go in the first. But Travis Sanheim, cheating in the offensive end, took a slick feed from Claude Giroux and knotted the score 24 seconds later, scoring from deep inside the left circle for his 100th career point.
Hart had little defensive support in the first period as the Red Wings had numerous chances down low. That trend continued in the next two periods.
It was the Flyers’ first game with John Torchetti running the power play, and Darryl Williams directing the penalty kill. They were 0 for 5 on the power play and are 1 for 21 in their last seven games. The PK was 2 for 3.
“Our power play matched our five-on-five game,” Yeo said.
That wasn’t a compliment.
Defenseman Nick Seeler, playing his first game since Jan. 24, had two assists, giving him his third multi-point game of his career. … Center Derick Brassard, who has missed 26 games with a hip injury — including the previous 11 contests — returned to the lineup for the first time since June 6 and was pointless with a minus-2 rating. … Giroux moved to within 14 games of becoming the second player in franchise history to reach the 1,000-game mark. Bobby Clarke played in 1,144. …. The Flyers are in a stretch in which they play 11 of 13 games at home. After playing in Detroit and Pittsburgh, the Flyers will have the longest homestand in franchise history, eight games. … Justin Braun turns 35 on Thursday.