PHILADELPHIA – So the first half of the Flyers’ dismal season comes to an end on a negative note, pretty much typifying the disappointment of a frustrating campaign.
Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Western Conference-leading Calgary Flames at the Wells Fargo Center extended the Flyers’ winless streak to six (0-4-2) games.
Travis Konecny scored a go-ahead goal at 5:57 of the third period when he stopped goaltender David Rittich’s clear attempt and fired it back into the net, ending a 13-game scoreless drought, to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead.
But Calgary’s Matt Tkachuk answered back with a tying goal with 4:17 to play.
The Flames won it on a goal by T.J. Brodie at 1:59 of overtime.
On the deciding goal, Jordan Weal turned the puck over in the Flyers’ zone, leading to a rush with Tkachuk feeding Brodie for the winner.
This loss seemed to typify the Flyers’ first half. Even when they played well for long stretches of games, they seem to shoot themselves in the foot as the clock winds down.
“It’s pretty frustrating,’’ Travis Sanheim admitted. “I felt like we had control most of the game. A couple breakdowns and it cost us the game.
“Lately, it feels like you’re not giving up a ton. Yet you have one breakdown and it’s in the back of your net. It (this game) has kind of been the course of our first half. We play the majority of the game pretty well, do a lot of things well, yet we end up on the wrong side of things.’’
With Michal Neuvirth once again injured, Carter Hart returned to the Flyers’ goal and continued his strong play.
He allowed only one goal in the first two periods, that coming off the stick of South Jersey native Johnny Gaudreau stick at 8:51 of the second.
Calgary’s top playmaker, Sean Monahan, set up the play with a pass to Gaudreau in the right circle. Gaudreau beat Hart for his 24th goal of the season.
The Flyers took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Sanheim at 12:10 of the first while Philadelphia was on a power play.
Sanheim was trying to get an entry pass to Weal in the left circle but the puck nicked off Brodie’s skate and past Rittich.
It was the Flyers’ third power-play goal of the past two games. Prior to that, the Flyers had connected three times in 44 attempts dating back to the Black Friday game against the Rangers.
This marked just the 15th time in 41 games the Flyers scored the first goal of the game. They were 8-3-3 when scoring first going into this game.
“It’s nice to finally get a friendly bounce,’’ Sanheim said. “It feels like forever since we got once of those.’’
But the Flyers gave up that late goal to Tkachuk and then came the misplay in the overtime.
“It just bounced on me,’’ Weal said. “Plain and simple, but I have to be a little harder on that, though. Bear down, make the right play.’’
That’s the kind of season it’s been for Weal and his teammates. In the past couple weeks alone, they’ve given up late leads at Florida and now here, throwing valuable points away.
“It seems like it’s been that way the last couple weeks now,’’ Weal said. “Something happens and it snowballs into a goal against. We have to play smart 200-foot hockey if we’re going to get out of this. That (his misplay) wasn’t it.’’
Ivan Provorov confirmed the Flyers are frustrated by all this.
“We keep having the lead and then all of a sudden, we give up goals and end up losing,’’ he said. “Overtime or end of (regulation) games, it’s frustrating. We have to learn from it and move on.’’
Coach Scott Gordon seemed to appreciate his team’s effort against a strong Calgary team but of course he would like a better result.
“I thought we did a lot of the right things,’’ he said. “We created opportunities that weren’t going in. We had a goal on the power play and nine shots (for four power plays).’’
Added Konecny: “It’s tough because like I said, we’re playing good hockey. It just seems like teams are just scoring on those one opportunities that they’re getting. It usually doesn’t go that way, but that’s just the way it’s going for us right now. It’s happened two times to us. We keep going back, we’re playing really solid games, I think this was one of our better ones.”
Phil Varone and Jori Lehtera were healthy scratches for the Flyers, who will have Sunday off before playing the St. Louis Blues on Monday. . .Nolan Patrick returned to the lineup after four games with an upper-body injury. . .With Neuvirth injured, newly acquired (off waivers) Mike McKenna suited up as backup goalie.