PHILADELPHIA – When Carter Hart’s first loss came to pass, it figured to be a case of the rookie goaltender not playing very well.
But in Saturday’s 4-3 defeat by the Columbus Blue Jackets, Hart didn’t compete all that badly.
The same couldn’t be said for his teammates.
Turnovers, lost faceoffs, missed scoring opportunities all combined to work against the Flyers in their first loss under new coach Scott Gorden.
Unlike recent wins over Detroit and Nashville, the Flyers made some costly errors at inopportune times.
The players admitted as much.
“Games like that happen,’’ said Jake Voracek. “We didn’t give up much (the Flyers held Columbus to a season-low 19 shots, five below its previous low) but when we did, they made sure they scored.’’
James van Riemsdyk offered similar comments.
“I think we did a good job, we carried the play a lot,’’ he said. “Obviously we made a couple mistakes that ended up in our net. They were opportunistic and that’s the way the game went.’’
Ex-Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky performed well against his former team once again, raising his career record against Philadelphia to 13-3-1.
The Flyers took a brief 2-1 lead in the second period, then watched the Blue Jackets score three straight goals in the afternoon game at the Wells Fargo Center.
Cam Atkinson had the first two of those. On the first, at 9:30, Hart made a sensational toe save on Atkinson, but no defender picked up Atkinson for the second try.
Then, Atkinson scored again at 13:23. This time, Voracek was taken to the ice on a cross-check by Scott Harrington near the blue line (no penalty call) and Atkinson eventually finished off a tic-tac-toe play.
“I got kind of slew-footed, then I got pushed,’’ Voracek said. “It was hard to see but I don’t fall down like that in the battle. It doesn’t matter. I have to battle or chip it to the middle.’’
Finally, Artemi Panarin scored with 35.6 seconds left in the period when Phil Varone lost a faceoff to Pierre-Luc Dubois. Panarin fired a shot between Radko Gudas’ skates which fooled Hart.
In all, Atkinson had two goals, Panarin a goal and two assists and Dubois two assists.
Atkinson now has 13 goals in 25 career games against the Flyers.
Tough to defend?
“I thought we played well, just the little details that cost us,’’ Sean Couturier said. “If we’re going to play against top lines, we have to take care of those.’’
Gordon seemed satisfied with the effort, just maybe not the execution.
In all, the Flyers outshot the Blue Jackets, 37-19. A lot of those 37 shots were quality ones against Bobrovsky.
“He played a great game,’’ Gordon said. “Even the shot attempts were something like 60-32.
“That was a difference and obviously we had some plays that happened on the goals where we had situations we could have been better at.’’
The Flyers pulled Hart with two minutes to play and James van Riemsdyk scored to close the deficit to 4-3 with 1:10 to play.
Columbus took a 1-0 lead at 15:05 of the first period on a goal by Zach Werenski (the first goal surrendered in the first period in Hart’s three starts).
The Flyers responded by getting their first power-play goal in the last five games (ending a one-for-31 skid) when Couturier connected at 19:37.
Couturier sent a backhand shot from the slot past Bobrovsky.
Even though the Flyers did get a power-play goal
Varone made it 2-1 Flyers at 7:40 of the second. Dale Weise hustled to beat defenseman Markus Nutivaara to a puck in the corner and relayed to Couturier for a shot that was stopped but followed up by Varone.
Jordan Weal and Jori Lehtera were the healthy scratches. . .The Flyers begin a five-game road trip with Sunday’s game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden in New York. After the Christmas break, they visit Tampa, Florida, Carolina and Nashville before returning home to play Carolina on Jan. 3.