Another blown two-goal lead results in another OT loss

PHILADELPHIA – It’s difficult to decide which is the Flyers’ bigger problem at the moment: Protecting two-goal leads or finding a way to win in overtime.
Both issues raised their ugly heads in the Flyers’ come-from-ahead 5-4 OT loss to the New York Islanders on Friday (their second OT defeat by the Isles in three days) at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers managed to find a way to blow a two-goal lead for the third time in the last five games, coughing up a 4-2 edge they held at the second intermission.
But wait. The overtime situation is even more of a disaster. The Flyers now have a record of 1-6 in the tie breaker. And if you throw in an 0-2 mark in shootouts, it’s painful to watch.
The Flyers’ winless streak now stands at seven (0-3-4). It’s the longest winless streak since they went 10 in a row (0-8-2) back in February, 2008.
Jake Voracek pleaded guilty when it came to coverage responsibility on the Islanders’ winning goal by Nick Leddy at 2:44 of the extra session.
“It’s frustrating, we should have closed it with that two-goal lead in the third,’’ Voracek said. “We have to find a way to close it.
“You have to find a way to win in this league, when you’re up two goals in the third and slip it away. (On the winning goal) I got caught puck-watching. Simple as that.’’
While it might be early, the Flyers have played 23 games and sit squarely in last place in the Metropolitan Division.
Too early to push the panic button?
“In the last seven, we’ve lost four in overtime or shootout,’’ Voracek said. “It’s a tough stretch for us but we’re only one game under .500 (8-9-6). I don’t know how many points out of the playoffs we are but we have to start winning some games.’’
On a positive note, Wayne Simmonds and Shayne Gostisbehere broke out of some lengthy scoring slumps.
Simmonds stopped a 14-game skid and Gostisbehere a 13-game drought.
Simmonds, who hadn’t scored since Oct. 21, connected off a Gostisbehere rebound at 6:28 of the second period to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead.
Claude Giroux’s goal at 3:49 of the second period tied the score at 1-1. Later, he picked up an assist on Sean Couturier’s goal (at 12:30 of the second for a 4-2 lead) for his 600th NHL point.
That leaves Giroux only one point behind Rod Brind’Amour for ninth place on the Flyers’ alltime scoring list.
The Islanders started their comeback at 4:12 of the third when Jordan Eberle scored on a power play at 4:12 with Voracek in the penalty box.
Then Andrew Ladd took a nifty feed from Eberle and poked a shot past Brian Elliott at 12:11 to even the score.
On the overtime goal, Voracek was out of place but Couturier and Ivan Provorov weren’t exactly clinging to defensive assignments either.
“You break down three on three, it’s an automatic odd-man rush,’’ Simmonds said. “That’s what happened there.’’
Added Elliott: “It starts from the net out. I have to make a couple saves there. We get up a couple goals and we need to close games out. I’ve seen that through this stretch. . .we’ve kind of shot ourselves in the foot. I think we have the confidence going into the three on three, we have the skill, but we’re just losing guys, not playing man on man and that’s kind of how it breaks down.’’
Giroux says there’s a lot of frustration now.
“When you have a 4-2 lead, I don’t care how you do it, you’ve got to find a way to get the win,’’ he said. “We played a good game, we just couldn’t finish.
“We have to find ways to get confidence, especially in the third. You have to believe in what we’re doing and what we’re doing is going to work. When we start believing that, we’re a good team and we can finish games. Until then, stuff like this can happen.’’
Coach Dave Hakstol believes in looking at the glass half-full. He maintains his team is close to getting it right, even if it’s not showing in the results.
“You have to evaluate it for what it is,’’ he said. “Seven of the last 10 (games) we’ve gotten at least a point. Today was a close hockey game all the way through. We have to find a way to finish games in overtime. We haven’t done that. We have to do a better job there.’’

Wayne Fish
About Wayne Fish 378 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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