PHILADELPHIA – Team defense fueled the Flyers’ recent six-game winning streak and lack of it on Monday night proved the successful stretch’s undoing.
In a 4-1 loss to Los Angeles, the Flyers allowed four goals in a game for the first time since a 5-4 loss at Pittsburgh on Nov. 27. They hadn’t given up even three goals in one game during the six-game streak.
Philadelphia had plenty of chances to score, including six power plays, but could cash in only once with the man advantage.
The Kings, now coached by former Flyers bench boss John Stevens, jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first period and while the Flyers managed to cut the lead to one by the intermission, they never really threatened after that.
Some of that was due to the play of goaltender Jonathan Quick, who stopped 36 of 37 shots and upped his career record against the Flyers to 8-3-1.
“We created enough opportunities to win this game,’’ Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “Now maybe it would have had to have been 2-1 in overtime or a shootout, but that’s the type of game it needed to be.’’
The Kings started off by making it look fairly easy.
Torrey Mitchell bested Scott Laughton for a clear faceoff win, resulting in defenseman Alec Martinez’s shot eluding Flyers goalie Brian Elliott (who earlier in the day was named NHL second star of the week) at 5:27.
Then, on less than a clean line change, Trevor Lewis was allowed to skate in unchecked to the right circle for a short-side shot under the crossbar to make it 2-0 at 16:46.
“I don’t think we made them work hard enough for the opportunities that they ended up scoring their goals on,’’ Hakstol said.
Sean Couturier indicated the Flyers were in trouble when they fell behind by a two-goal margin so early. Plus, the Kings were getting a lot of odd-man rushes, something that didn’t happen much during the winning streak. A comeback would have been a tough hill to climb.
“Especially that team,’’ Couturier said. “They have a lot of experience. They have won in the past and they know how to win (including two Stanley Cups since 2011). When you’re down early in the game and you can’t get it back early, it gets tougher and tougher. They know how to close games.’’
The Flyers got plenty of shots but not enough quality ones to seriously challenge Quick.
“It wasn’t our best effort,’’ Couturier said. “We have to do a better job creating better chances. Jumping on those rebounds.
“I thought we came out a little flat. We didn’t have the jump we usually do. The second (period) was a little better. In the third, we were chasing, trying to make plays.’’
Elliott agreed with that evaluation.
“We got kind of chasing from behind,’’ he said. “You try and do a little too much sometime. They’re a good team that turns pucks over and goes the other way. They stand up at the blue line and just wait for you to turn it over. They’ve done it for a lot of years.’’
Added Jake Voracek: “I think we played really good hockey over the last 10 days, two weeks. We just have to make sure we don’t get stuck on losing. We have to find a way to win on Wednesday (against Detroit) and hopefully start another streak.’’
Short shots: The Flyers gave up only two power plays, making it eight straight games of allowing two or fewer in that category. . .Elliott was named second NHL star of week after a second straight 3-0-0 week. He was named third star last week. This past week he recorded a goals-against average of 1.31 and a save percentage of .943. He becomes just the second Flyer ever to win honors in back-to-back weeks. The only other was Ilya Bryzgalov (March, 2012).