WASHINGTON – Here’s what happens when bad teams do bad things: The puck winds up in the back of their net.
Proof of this was on display at the Capital One Arena on Tuesday night in the nation’s capital.
The Flyers made periodic mistakes against the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals and nearly all of them proved costly.
Typifying this mess was a botched handoff play between Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux in the second period.
Couturier made too soft a pass at the Philly blue line, Jakub Vrana intercepted and raced the length of the ice to score his first of two goals in the game, handing the Capitals a 3-1 lead on the way to a 5-3 defeat of Philadelphia.
That loss extended the Flyers’ winless streak to eight games (0-6-2). They have not won a game since defeating the New York Rangers two days before Christmas.
The Flyers’ team record for longest winless streak is 12 (0-8-4) set back in 1999.
Last year the Flyers endured a 10-game (0-5-5) winless streak but still managed to make the playoffs.
Defenseman Radko Gudas said this current streak might be worse because in last year’s streak, at least the Flyers were generating some points.
“Last year we had a 10-game losing streak but I don’t think it was as bad as it is right now. It’s going to take a lot to get out of it, for sure.
“We have to be managing the pucks better. We can’t just be throwing the pucks away. It costs us goals. It’s really frustrating.’’
Before the game, coach Scott Gordon said the Flyers might be overthinking the whole situation during games, worrying about things like contracts and personal stats.
Couturier said he isn’t concerned about off-ice matters but maybe some people are.
“We’re forcing things now and it’s not going our way,’’ he said. “I can’t talk for other guys. It seems like every night we have some guys off, we don’t have everyone going at the same time.
“We need to start looking at ourselves in the mirror and show up to the rink ready to play and do your own responsibility and do whatever you can to help the team win. Maybe some guys are thinking about it (contracts, personal stats). But we have to think team first for sure.’’
The Flyers managed to hold the Capitals to a 1-1 tie in the first period, mainly because they allowed only four shots on newly acquired (off waivers) goalie Mike McKenna.
Tom Wilson’s goal at 4:21 gave Washington a 1-0 lead but Jake Voracek responded with a goal at 9:28 to tie the score.
On the play, defenseman Michal Kempny’s ill-advised cross-ice pass was picked off by Oskar Lindblom. He set up Voracek for a shot past goaltender Pheonix Copley.
It was a much different story in the second period as the Capitals scored three unanswered goals, including the pair by Vrana.
T.J. Oshie scored at 9:19 to make it 2-1 Washington. Oshie stood in the slot and tipped Lars Eller’s shot past McKenna.
After the first Vrana goal at 11:22, he struck again at 15:55. This time, his shot from just along the goal line found its way through McKenna’s pads and the outcome was essentially decided.
“It wasn’t my best game, I don’t think,’’ McKenna said. On the fourth goal, he added: “I just didn’t get rotated quick enough. The shot hit my pad. I scored on myself.’’
The Flyers have been plagued by bad second periods in recent games and Voracek doesn’t have an explanation.
“We just had a brutal second period,’’ he acknowledged. “I think over the last few years, even this year, we were good in the second period. And now we’re just getting steamrolled. I don’t know why.
“We’re getting outplayed in the second period. We were a good second period team the first 20 games, now we’re getting blown out of the building.’’
Wayne Simmonds scored in the closing minutes to close the deficit to two goals, then Claude Giroux scored with 6.7 seconds to play. But it wasn’t enough as Washington scored with 2.1 seconds to play into an empty Flyers’ net.
Once again, the lack of a consistent push on an opponent’s net made it easy for the goaltender to stop Philadelphia’s sporadic offense.
As previously mentioned, Gordon thinks the Flyers might be a bit distracted and that can’t happen.
“There’s a lot of things going on in a lot of heads,’’ Gordon said. “Sometimes it’s their own personal successes and failures. Sometimes it can be contracts, sometimes it can be who you are playing with on any given night.
“To me, it’s not so much about systems. That’s one thing I didn’t want to do when I came here, I didn’t want to overload them with a bunch of changes. We haven’t been getting scored on off defensive coverages. Our biggest failure has been off the rush. That’s an area we need to get better at.’’
After the game, Gordon talked about that awful second period.
“Up until the second goal, I didn’t think we gave up a lot but what we gave up was wrong,’’ he said. “It shouldn’t happen. We gave up enough of those wrong plays that they were able to cash in.’’