The effort was better but the outcome wasn’t.
Faced with a crucial situation in Game 4 of their playoff series with the New York Islanders on Sunday night, the Flyers generated more energy than they had in much of the previous three games.
But it wasn’t enough.
A J-G Pageau breakaway goal at 7:19 of the third period broke a 1-1 tie and helped send the Flyers to a 3-2 loss at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
So the Islanders take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and can dispatch the Flyers home on Tuesday night (7) in Game 5.
Trailing 3-1, the Flyers went with the extra attacker and got a goal from Ivan Provorov with 1:04 to play but it wasn’t enough.
Veteran goaltender Brian Elliott, who got the start over regular starter Carter Hart due to the back-to-back games scheduling, was the only reason why the Flyers were still in it for the first 20 minutes.
Elliott came up with a handful of big saves. He did surrender a goal to New York in the second period when a Phil Myers’ clear attempt was cut down by Josh Bailey and relayed to Brock Nelson for a point-blank shot and score at 6:52.
Nelson also scored an insurance goal in the third period.
Having come back from a 3-1 deficit only once in their 53-year history, the Flyers know they have a steep mountain to climb.
“We’re down but we’re not out,’’ Elliott insisted. “I think the guys realize that. You know we just have to play our game. Everything they got we kind of gave them. . .a little bit of forced errors. I think they’re good at that. We just have to keep that out of their hands. I think if we play a consistent game we’ll give ourselves a good chance.’’
Provorov isn’t waving any white flags either.
“It’s not over until it’s over,’’ Provorov said. “We have a great team. We know how to battle with adversity. We have to come out with the same energy (in Game 5). Try to play the right way and get a win.’’
Coach Alain Vigneault put the blame for this loss on a handful of errors the Flyers made, including the one committed by Myers.
“There’s no doubt that’s the difference in tonight’s game,’’ Vigneault said. “I mean we busted a gut out there. We worked our butts off. We weren’t perfect. Brian gave us a great chance.
“In the third period we made a couple mistakes. They made us pay for it.’’
The Flyers have been harping on the idea of getting the puck “low to high,’’ meaning get it in deep, then back to the point where sharpshooters like Justin Braun, Provorov and Myers can load up and take aim.
That strategy paid off late in the second period when Sean Couturier scored to tie the score at 1-1.
The Flyers took control in the corner, swung it around the perimeter to Braun at the right point. His shot was deflected by Couturier past Thomas Greiss, who got the start over Semyon Varlamov because of the back-to-back scheduling. It was Couturier’s second goal in the past three games.
In all, the second period was a bounce-back one for the Flyers. After giving up 18 shots to the Islanders in the first period, they outshot New York, 17-3, in the second, including the final 12 shots of the period.
New York had no shots the final 10:44 of the period.
But the Islanders found their game in the third. After the Pageau goal, Nelson struck again at 11:12 to put the game away.
The defense pairing of Provorov and Matt Niskanen was on the ice for both of New York’s final two goals.
Both Couturier and Claude Giroux believe the Flyers still have a fighting chance.
“The next game is huge,’’ Giroux said. “We need to play better.’’
This marked the first time the Flyers had lost two games in a row going back to January.
“We have to grind it,’’ Couturier said. “And find a way to win.’’
Vigneault will pull out all the stops for Game 5.
“We gave our best effort tonight,’’ he said. “Give credit where credit is due (to the Islanders). We just have to do better.’’