LOS ANGELES – The road losses continue to pile up for the Flyers and the reason for Tuesday night’s setback to the Kings was no mystery.
“Special teams,’’ Matt Niskanen stated bluntly, and he was right on the mark.
The Flyers gave up a season-high-tying three power-play goals (two in the first period) and a shorthanded goal on the way to a 5-3 loss at the Staples Center.
The Kings scored four times in the first period and the Flyers never recovered.
Philadelphia came out on New Year’s Eve night and acted like they were playing on New Year’s Day morning, namely hung over.
Goaltender Brian Elliott was hung out to dry as the Flyers fell to 3-13-3 in holiday week (and beyond) trips over the past four-plus seasons.
As for special teams, the Flyers were nothing short of dreadful.
“I don’t think we were all that bad five-on-five, really,’’ Niskanen said. “We gave up three (power-play goals) and a shorty and that’s the game.’’
Ivan Provorov said the Kings were aggressive, especially on the power play.
“They were putting pucks at the net,’’ Provorov said. “And we just couldn’t get to the loose pucks, couldn’t get the rebounds. The first goal on the power play was just a nice play, I don’t think it was anybody’s fault.’’
The Flyers gave up goals to Kyle Clifford, Alex Iafallo, Tyler Toffoli and Adrian Kempe in a span of 12:21 in the first period.
Clifford connected at 5:31, beating Elliott with a shot from the left circle. Then, with the Kings on a power play, Iafallo scored at 6:57. Just 1:48 later, Toffoli finished off an assist from Anze Kopitar. Finally, with the Flyers on a power play, Kempe hit the net off a two-on-one shorthanded.
Meanwhile, the Flyers failed to get a shot past Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick despite putting 15 pucks on net in the first period.
Scott Laughton, just back from a groin injury, was in the penalty box for two of the three Kings’ power-play goals.
“I was at fault for two of them,’’ Laughton said. “We got beat on special teams tonight. I mean it was tough. We didn’t do our job. Just a couple calls I didn’t agree with but what are you going to do.’’
In the second period, Carter Hart was brought in to relieve a shell-shocked Elliott.
The Flyers did manage to avoid getting shut out for the first time this season when Justin Braun scored at the 14:59 mark.
San Jose scored a third power-play goal in the third period, this by Martin Frk. Claude Giroux countered with a power-play goal at 7:16 to make it 5-2 and Laughton added a goal with 2:52 to make it respectable.
Elliott was under siege almost from the outset. Two penalties, two power-play goals.
“They capitalized,’’ Elliott said. “They had a good presence in front on the first one. On the second one, they had a couple whacks at it and the third one went in.
“We just needed to be a little harder on bodies, a little harder on the puck. I wanted to come out a little better than that.’’
Coach Alain Vigneault questioned his team’s energy level.
“For some reason this year, a staple of our team has been our penalty killing,’’ he said. “Tonight it wasn’t very good. That, along with them scoring on our power play, took us out of the game.
“We tried to battle back but we have a couple guys right now, for whatever reason, who don’t seem to have a lot of energy. So we’re going to have to find out why. I anticipated a much better game on our part after the way we played against Anaheim (a 2-1 win Sunday) but we didn’t.’’
>Provorov OK after big hit
Provorov was knocked to the ice late in the second period after he was hit in the head by Kurtis MacDermid’s elbow. No penalty was called on the play. Provorov was able to get up and get to the bench.
Provorov’s six power-play goals lead all NHL defensemen. . .Provorov and Claude Giroux each played in their 286th consecutive game, tying them with Jeff Carter and Jake Voracek for the third longest ironman streaks in Flyers’ team history. Rod Brind’Amour holds the all-time mark with 484 consecutive games. . .The Flyers’ penalty kill was ranked sixth in the NHL entering the game (83.8 percent) but the Kings’ three power-play goals put a real dent in that stat. . .Flyers return to action Thursday when they visit the Vegas Golden Knights.