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Ronnie Attard’s first NHL goal highlights Flyers’ dismal 5-3 loss to Ducks

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Ronnie Attard, Philadelphia Flyers
Defenseman Ronnie Attard scored his first NHL goal in his fifth game Saturday, giving the Flyers an early 2-0 lead. Photo: Zack Hill.

Another game, another night in which some of the Philadelphia Flyers’ young players looked like they belonged.

But they weren’t nearly as impressive as Anaheim’s Trevor Zegras, a dazzling rookie center who scored his 19th and 20th goals, the latter on an eye-opening play that triggered the Ducks’ 5-3 comeback win at the Wells Fargo Center.

Zegras made a spin-o-rama, backhand pass from behind the goal line, appearing to set up Troy Terry’s 32nd goal to break a 3-3 tie with 8:22 left. After the game, the NHL said the pass deflected off Ivan Provorov’s stick and not Terry’s, and it changed the goal and gave it to Zegras, though replays appeared to show Terry got a piece of it.

Whatever.

About three minutes after the go-ahead goal, former Flyer Derek Grant’s tip-in made it 5-3 as the Ducks scored five of the last six goals and overcame a 2-0 deficit.

They also denied the Flyers of their first two-game winning streak since March 5 and 8.

Interim coach Mike Yeo said the Flyers “wanted it easy in the second period. We stopped being physical. Obviously, execution was a problem for us, through the neutral zone, especially.  I thought in one-on-one battles and the hardness of our game was lacking.”

All three Flyers goals were scored by defensemen: Travis Sanheim, Ronnie Attard, and Provorov.

The Flyers (23-38-11), who have 10 games left in the Lost Season, owned the opening period.

Morgan Frost, 22, centering the third line, set up the game’s first goal, a tracer by the Flyers’ best defenseman this season, Sanheim. The goal came just 99 seconds after the game started following a stirring tribute to public-address announcer Lou Nolan.

Attard, 23, a righthanded defenseman playing in his fifth NHL game since signing an entry-level deal, scored the first goal of his career to make it 2-0  after just 2:28.

The goal was originally credited to Hayden Hodgson, who was in front trying to deflect it. Between periods, however, it was switched to Attard, who put a point drive past former Flyers Anthony Stolarz with traffic in front.

It was thus an anti-climatic first NHL score, but Attard, a former Western Michigan standout, wasn’t complaining.

“It’s something you always dream of,” said Attard about his first goal — and not the strange circumstances around it. “It’s probably not how I drew it up, but I’ll take it.”

Attard, who had six shot attempts (three on goal), said he was learning so much from his coaches and teammates, and “starting to feel more comfortable each game. The nerves are pretty much gone now, and now it’s just playing hockey. I’m starting to make more plays.”

Frost has been much more noticeable lately, much more aggressive.

“My game has grown a lot, and I think I’m building confidence,” he said.

Yeo liked Attard’s performance, but seemed luke-warm about Frost’s.

“I think Ronnie continues to grow and get better every game. I think he’s doing a lot of good things,” he said. “I think Frosty kind of mirrored the rest of our team, to be honest with you.”

He meant Frost played well when the Flyers were dominant, but that he dipped in the second period when Anaheim took control.

“That’s a challenge for young players,” he said of trying to be more consistent. “It’s probably a good message for all of them right now. Just continue to remember what an opportunity it is, and don’t get caught up in the flow of the game.”

Yeo said “every shift is an opportunity, and sometimes you can just play to the level of the team. There’s no reason why those guys can’t go out and turn around the momentum as well.”

Trailing 3-2, the Flyers knotted the score early in the third period when Ivan Provorov, who has played much better since being paired with Cam York, converted a slick feed from Nate Thompson with 16:07 to go.

York, 21, another one of the Philadelphia Flyers’ young players who has played well, also had an assist on Provorov’s eighth goal and third in the last five games.

The Flyers were so good in the first period, so awful in the second.

They built a 2-0 lead and had a 16-6 domination in the opening 20 minutes.

And then …

They didn’t show up in the second. They were outworked, outshot, 17-4, and outscored, 3-0. The Ducks got goals from Sonny Milano, Zach Aston-Reese, and brilliant rookie Trevor Zegras (power play) in the period.

“I think we just kind of came out flat,” said Frost, who won six of seven faceoffs. “Maybe got a little complacent with how well we were playing in the first period. You’ve got to play a full 60.”

“We let them take the momentum and run with it,” Yeo said.

The Flyers’ power play was 0 for 2, making them a head-shaking 1 for 27 in their last 10 games.

Breakaways

Martin Jones had been playing well lately, so he was given his second straight start. Carter Hart has allowed 19 goals over his last four games. … The Flyers had 16 giveaways — nine more than Anaheim. … Hodgson was recalled from the Phantoms because Joel Farabee has the flu and was unable to play. … Stolarz faced the Flyers for the first time in his career. … Thompson led the Flyers with five shots. … Scott Laughton had an assist, a team-high five hits, and was 8 for 10 on faceoffs. … The Flyers play in Washington on Tuesday.

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