The Philadelphia Flyers are the definition of snakebitten these days.
They outplayed their last three gifted opponents — Pittsburgh, Washington, and Carolina — for good portions of those games, but have little to show for it.
The latest excruciating loss was Monday afternoon’s 4-3 overtime defeat to the Carolina Hurricanes at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers did a lot of good things, outshot the Canes by a 41-31 margin, and were the more physical team.
No matter. Defenseman Brett Pesce scored with 18 seconds left in overtime as the Flyers suffered their fifth straight loss and their 18th defeat in their last 20 games.
“That’s a real good team,” interim coach Mike Yeo said of the Metropolitan-leading Hurricanes, “and we made it hard for them to get to their game.”
The Flyers blew a late two-goal lead in a recent 5-4 overtime loss in Pittsburgh, then watched the Capitals score three late goals in a 2:08 span to wipe out a 3-2 deficit and beat Philadelphia, 5-3.
They didn’t blow any leads Monday, but they outplayed the Hurricanes in two of the three regulation periods and easily could have gotten two points.
“I guess it’s how you want to look at it,” said Yeo, who was not happy with his team’s play in the second period Monday. Maybe outplaying strong teams “builds confidence. Should have won. Could have won. We’re not winning those games. But, again, getting an understanding that it’s about us, and when we do the things we’re supposed to and do, shift after shift, we’ll (be) getting good results. We’re capable of playing with anybody.”
Added Yeo: “We’re putting ourselves in a position to win because of the things we’re doing and the things we’re capable of doing. We’re not closing out games because of things we may or may not be doing at a certain time in the game. For me, personally, I’m not allowed to be frustrated, disappointed, or feel sorry for ourselves. We have to remain just incredibly resilient right now and determined to keep getting better.”
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) February 21, 2022
Goaltender Carter Hart was unable to play in Monday’s matinee because of an eye infection, so Martin Jones got the call for the Philadelphia Flyers. Jones would have won his first game since Dec. 29 if Carolina goalie Frederik Andersen (38 saves) hadn’t somehow stopped Cam Atkinson as he tried to finish a three-on-one in overtime.
“Sick save,” Oskar Lindblom said.
Andersen also made a great stop on Claude Giroux’s close-range chance earlier in overtime.
Jones could have read a novel in the first period because all the action was in the Hurricanes’ defensive end as the Flyers — the dead-in-the-water Flyers — had a 12-2 shots domination.
But the Hurricanes, perhaps slowed because they played Sunday in Pittsburgh, awoke in the second period and found a way to win on a day when they weren’t themselves.
“I didn’t like our game. We were terrible from the start,” Carolina coach Rob Brind’Amour said. “Kind of what I thought would happen. … Coming off an emotional game (Sunday’s 4-3 win in Pittsburgh), it was set up exactly how it went today. But Freddy kept us in there.”
Vincent Trocheck scored on a backhander after gathering a rebound with 12:45 left in regulation, putting the Hurricanes ahead, 3-2.
But shortly after Zack MacEwen ignited the Flyers by winning a fight against Ian Cole, Philly tied it on Lindblom’s hard-working goal with 4:53 left remaining in the third.
About two minutes before Trocheck’s goal, the Flyers’ fourth line had made it 2-2. Left winger Isaac Ratcliffe, who had another strong game, circled out front from behind the net and fed Patrick Brown for the goal with 14:51 to go.
“At this level, with my size, I think I can create some space … and in certain situations, I think it’s paying off,” said the 6-foot-6, 225-pound Ratcliffe, who moved to the top line for parts of the third period.
Brown, a center who had missed the previous 14 games because of a sprained MCL, played a strong game in his return to the lineup as he had five shots, four hits and won 64% of his faceoffs.
After a scoreless first period, Carolina’s Nino Niederreiter and the Flyers’ Gerry Mayhew scored 35 seconds apart in the opening minute of the second stanza.
Just 24 seconds into the period, Niederreiter took advantage of a favorable bounce in front and deposited his 15th goal. But Mayhew (five shots) answered by scoring on a rebound that caromed off the Hurricanes’ Sebastian Aho and past Andersen.
That gave Mayhew six goals over the last 10 games and tied the score at 1-1. He has become one of the few feel-good stories of a season in which the Flyers have 15 wins in 50 games (15-25-10).
But the Canes took a 2-1 lead as they scored off the rush, with Teuvo Teravainen converting a feed from Andrei Svechnikov. Teravainen, who was alone in the slot, put a shot off the shinpads of Flyers defender Nick Seeler and past an unsuspecting Jones with 7:47 remaining in the second.
.@NHLFlyers LW Oskar Lindblom, wearing special pregame shirt, tapes his stick with pride tape for warmups as the Flyers host Pride Day at Wells Fargo Center. Photo: Joe Siville pic.twitter.com/pfGSZy9SNk
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) February 21, 2022
With 6:25 left in the game, the MacEwen pounded Cole in a fight and yelled, “Let’s go!” as he headed to the penalty box.
The Flyers took his advice. They swarmed the net and knotted the score on Lindblom’s seventh goal with 4:53 to go.
“He got the guys fired up,” Brown said. “That was awesome.”
Unlike the overtime’s ending.
The Flyers have several players who could be traded by the March 21 deadline, including Giroux (if he waives his no-movement clause), Justin Braun, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Jones, so it’s not surprising that numerous scouts were at Monday’s games.
Scouts were there from Colorado, Florida, Dallas, St. Louis, the Rangers, Chicago, Nashville, San Jose and Seattle.
Ratcliffe has points in four of his last five games. … Ivan Provorov led the Flyers with 28:46 of ice time. … The Flyers outhit the Canes, 22-14. … The Flyers will host Craig Berube’s St. Louis Blues on Tuesday, and Yeo is hopeful that Hart can play. It will be Game 3 of an eight-game homsetand, which started with a 5-3 loss to Washington.