PHILADELPHIA – At least this time they showed some life.
In their previous three games, the Flyers had scored a grand total of two goals.
And the scoring drought continued for the first two periods of Thursday night’s game.
Then things finally started to change.
Down 4-0 to Carolina early in the third period, the Flyers rallied with three goals in a span of 4:41 to cut the deficit to 4-3 at the Wells Fargo Center.
But that’s as close as they could get as the Flyers dropped their fourth straight game, by a 5-3 score, and ran their winless streak to five (0-4-1).
After suffering a 3-1 loss in Raleigh on Monday night, one would think the Flyers might have skated out of the gate with more zest for this contest.
But such was not the case.
They were outshot 13-8 in a scoreless first period, then allowed three unanswered goals in the second.
Two ex-Flyers helped lead the way for Carolina: Justin Williams had a goal, while goaltender Petr Mrazek kept Philadelphia shooters pretty much at bay.
The Flyers fell to 15-20-5 and remained in the Metropolitan Division basement.
Philadelphia picked up power-play goals from Wayne Simmonds and James van Riemsdyk in the three-goal rally.
It’s just the fourth time this season the Flyers have scored more than one power-play goal in a game.
Why can’t the Flyers get things going a little quicker in games?
The other night they were down 5-2 in the third period at Tampa (the top team in the NHL) and rallied to tie the score at 5-5, only to lose in OT.
A similar situation on Thursday night.
“I think we were kind of playing on our heels,’’ Claude Giroux said. “We’re not playing with the speed we want to play with. There’s a lot of frustration, even before we start the game.
“We’re trying to battle back pretty much every game. That’s not the way we should be playing.’’
Other Flyers suggested there just isn’t enough energy created at the start of games.
And they continue to sink in the standings, now falling somewhere in the 12-point range out of the playoff picture.
“It’s like quicksand,’’ Simmonds said. “It’s just getting deeper.’’
Dougie Hamilton kicked things off for the ‘Canes at 1:56 of the middle period when he sent a wrist shot from the right circle past goalie Michal Neuvirth’s glove.
That made it 26 times in 40 games the Flyers have allowed an opponent to score the first goal of the game this season.
“We get one bad bounce and we’re chasing the game,’’ Couturier said. “It’s just little details. Right now it just seems we’re tightening the stick, chasing games and it’s frustrating. We just have to work twice as hard.’’
The Flyers are just 7-17-2 when an opponent scores first.
“I don’t know what it is, to be honest,’’ van Riemsdyk said. “We don’t play to the way we’re capable of (early in games) and (we don’t) stick to our gameplan. Things get a little haywire and it usually takes us to the third period to come on strong.’’
Williams made it 2-0 at 3:04 on the power play when his one-timer from the right dot eluded Neuvirth while Simmonds was resting in the penalty box.
Finally, Teuvo Teravainen scored while Robert Hagg sat in the penalty box for a 3-0 lead at 17:20. Sebastian Aho created the set-up pass.
Carolina’s Warren Foegele scored in the third period before Philadelphia woke up.
The Flyers, who entered the game just three for 44 on the power play since a Black Friday game against the Rangers, finally broke through with the man advantage when Simmonds tapped a puck past Mrazek at 6:17 of the third.
Couturier added a goal at 7:23 to make things a little more interesting.
Then, at 10:58, van Riemsdyk scored with the man advantage and the Flyers were back in the battle.
Carolina wrapped it up with 4:47 to play on a goal by Teravainen.
The Flyers will try to get things straightened out on Saturday vs. St. Louis.
Coach Scott Gordon appears at a loss for reasons why his team is so slow at getting started in these games.
“When you’re playing well, luck seems to go your way,’’ said Gordon, whose record to 4-5-1 since he took over a few weeks ago. “In the third period, we were moving our feet. The biggest thing is, we were getting to the neutral zone clean and quick, as a result we were on pucks better than we were in the first and second period.’’
Before the game, general manager Chuck Fletcher announced injury updates on six players.
>Goaltender Brian Elliott (lower-body injury) hopes to be back on the ice this weekend and practicing in 10-14 days.
>Center Corban Knight (broken collarbone) will see a doctor on Jan. 17 and could return to practice in mid-February.
>Defenseman Andrew MacDonald (lower-body injury) is: Out two games and hopes to be skating Monday.
>Center Nolan Patrick (upper-body injury) skated Thursday, was scheduled to see a doctor later in the day could be cleared for contact Friday. Hopes to play next week
>Defenseman Samuel Morin (ACL surgery) practicing but not cleared for contact. Should be back mid-February.
>Goaltender Anthony Stolarz (lower-body injury) hopes to be back on the ice by the weekend.