Flyers waste good defensive effort in 3-0 loss to Bruins

Brian Elliott

BOSTON – Even when the Flyers get off to a good start like they did on Thursday night, they still find themselves chasing the game.

And once again, it was a futile hunt.

The Flyers played the Boston Bruins to a scoreless standoff for the first 33 minutes at TD Garden.

Then, 41-year-old defenseman Zdeno Chara sent a 60-foot bullet past Flyers netminder Brian Elliott and that started the Bruins on their way to a 3-0 victory.

That made it nine times in the first 10 games the Flyers (4-6) have allowed the first goal of the game.

Jake DeBrusk would go on to score a power-play goal for the Bruins late in the second period and the Flyers had no answer.

Philadelphia has given up a league-worst 11 power-play goals.

The Flyers entered the game with the second-most allowed goals (37) in the NHL but played a much stingier brand of team defense in this one.

Boston decided not to start Flyer killer goalie Tuukka Rask, who took a career record of 14-2-0-3 with a 1.99 goals-against average against Philadelphia into the contest.

No matter. Backup Jaroslav Halak was a worthy substitute, keeping the Flyers off the board during a frantic second period, which featured a couple of key stops against Claude Giroux, one from point-blank range and another off a two-on-one rush with Travis Konecny as the setup man.

Halak also stopped a medium-range blast from Travis Sanheim.

“We haven’t been scoring when we’ve had the chances,” Sean Couturier said. “The next thing you know, we’re down a goal or two and forcing things. But we have to keep grinding and keep creating chances. Just be more opportunistic.”

TD Garden hasn’t been kind to the Flyers of late. They are 1-7-2 in their last 10 visits here.

In this game, the Flyers did a pretty good job controlling the Bruins’ top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak but had nothing to show for it.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” said Shayne Gostisbehere. “It feels like we’re not getting a lot of chances. You can blame it on bounces, whatever, but personally I don’t feel like we’re getting enough chances. We’re a perimeter team right now. We have to play hard hockey, go get the puck. . .it’s up to all of us in this room.”

It was the second time the Flyers have been shut out in their first 10 games. They were blanked by Vegas two weeks ago.

The Flyers were 0 for 3 on the power play and are now 1 for their last 17 attempts.

Chara added an empty-net goal with 22 seconds left and the Bruins went to 4-0-0 at home.

Any time a team gets shut out, questions keep getting asked.

“It was pretty tight checking the first period, there wasn’t a lot of real estate out there,” Andrew MacDonald said.  “We didn’t have a ton of chances but I didn’t feel we gave up too many. The opportunities we had, we just had to bear down and score on them.”

Elliott disclosed the Chara goal to make it 1-0 deflected off a Flyer defender, making it almost impossible to stop.

The goaltender probably deserved a better fate.

“When you go through times like this, you definitely have to get together and sort things out,” Elliott said. “These are the tough ones, when you do play a solid game and you still lose. The league is so good now, you can well play and lose. You have to play great to secure a win. That’s why you can’t too down. I thought we played a pretty solid game.”

Coach Dave Hakstol seemed satisfied with the effort. The execution might have left a little bit to be desired.

“We were pretty solid five on five defensively,” he said. “They are going to generate some opportunities with the skill and the ability they have. We were pretty solid defensively, when we had breakdowns, ‘Moose’ (Elliott) did a good job.”

Short shots

MacDonald, sidelined for a week to re-recover from a preseason injury, returned to the lineup and was paired with  Gostisbehere. . .Mikhail Vorobyev was rumored to be returning to the lineup but instead sat out his fourth straight game. . .The Flyers return home Saturday to host the New York Islanders. . .Scott Laughton played in his 200th NHL game. . .Boston’s Brad Marchand has the highest plus-minus in the NHL since 2010-11 at a remarkable plus-189. . .It was Hockey Fights Cancer Night in Boston and cancer survivor Briana Burgess sang the National Anthem. . .Goaltender Michal Neuvirth, fresh off a conditioning start with the Phantoms on Wednesday night, was recalled and dressed for this game as Elliott’s backup. . .Wayne Simmonds came to the aid of Laughton at 6:38 of the third period when the latter was jumped by Boston’s Steven Kampfer after a hard collision.

Wayne Fish
About Wayne Fish 755 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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