NEWARK, N.J. – It was going just the way a very young Alex Lyon once dreamed it would.
As a child, Lyon fantasized about playing in the National Hockey League and Thursday night he was approaching the end of the rainbow.
The rookie netminder nearly made his debut in the Flyers’ net a memorable one.
But the New Jersey Devils rallied for a pair of third period goals, the second by Nico Hischier with 1:27 to play, and the Flyers fell, 4-3, at the Prudential Center, extending their losing streak to three games.
It was the first time all season the Flyers have lost in regulation time after leading at the second intermission. They are now 18-1-3.
On the winning goal, Blake Coleman sent a shot toward the Flyers’ goal and the puck was tipped by Hischier through Lyon’s pads.
“I just tried to play the game that got me to this point,’’ Lyon said. “It was unfortunate at the end there. You have to find a way to get a point or two points or something.’’
Lyon was tested early and often in a wide-open first period. But the Yale University product stood up to everything fired at him at even-strength, with both Devils goals coming on power plays.
It came down to that late goal by Hischier and there wasn’t much Lyon could do about it.
“The guy (Coleman) just put it to the net. . .I thought I was in really good position,’’ Lyon said. “But I just opened up a little bit and things happen fast enough in this league where you’re going to pay for that. So I learned the hard way. I’m just going to try and learn from the mistakes and be sharper next time.’’
The Flyers rallied from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to take a 3-2 lead at 7:01 of the second period on a goal by Shayne Gostisbehere.
Lyon surrendered a goal to Kyle Palmieri at 3:42 of the first period while Nolan Patrick was in the penalty box. Palmieri scored on a point-blank shot, short side, from the right circle.
Claude Giroux scored just the Flyers’ second five-on-three goal of the year at 6:47 to tie the score, but the Devils regained the lead when Drew Stafford tipped in John Moore’s long shot at 13:49.
Philadelphia rallied at 15:46 when Wayne Simmonds poked Gostisbehere’s long shot into the net.
On the Flyers’ third goal, Valtteri Filppula made a nice entry play that hit Taylor Leier and deflected to Gostisbehere for a shot past Keith Kincaid.
Not finished, New Jersey came back on a goal by Damon Severson in the third period to tie the score. Then Hischier provided the winner.
Both Gostisbehere and Gudas were among several players who felt they let down Lyon with a number of mistakes.
“Yeah, he’s been pretty good, he made some huge saves,’’ Gudas said. “You feel bad for him, especially his first game. Hopefully he can get another chance and we can redeem ourselves in front of him.’’
Gostisbehere expressed similar feelings.
“It’s definitely tough to take a loss like that,’’ he said. “We feel for Al. We kind of let him down there. It’s about getting back on the horse. There’s still a lot of hockey left. We have to get some wins here.’’
Despite the loss, the Flyers remained in a playoff spot, thanks to the Rangers’ 4-0 home loss to Toronto.
Coach Dave Hakstol was impressed by Lyon’s play and indicated he’s seen enough in the past two games to keep the freshman in the mix should he be needed later in the season.
“Alex played a solid game,’’ Hakstol said. “He gave us some real good saves at different times of the game. The third one, we had a couple opportunities to defend it a little bit better in front of him.’’
Lyon’s harsh self-assessment of his play seemed to resonate with the coach.
“I’m not surprised that he’s his own worst critic, that’s the kind of person that he is,’’ Hakstol said. “I thought he gave us a good game.’’
Flyers dismiss Gudas hit
Gudas’ streak of 21 straight games without a penalty minute came to a screeching halt when he crashed into Palmieri at 12:47 of the first period. Gudas only received a two-minute minor for interference. The Flyers claimed Gudas was just trying to dodge teammate Simmonds but the Devils took umbrage, with Travis Zajac dropping the gloves and exchanging punches with the Flyers defenseman.
“He (Gudas) was trying to avoid our player, plain and simple,’’ Hakstol said. “It’s not even a penalty, although I understand why it was called. It kind of looks a little bit bad but he was trying to jump out of the way. Completely inadvertent.’’