Mission Improbable just moved a wrist shot closer to virtual Mission Impossible.
It didn’t seem to be headed in that direction on Tuesday night when the Flyers launched 25 shots in the second period, tied the Boston Bruins and headed into the third with a full head of steam.
But all it took was one tiny mistake to send the whole optimistic outlook crashing to the ice.
A shorthanded goal by Brad “Superpest’’ Marchand broke a 2-2 tie and propelled the visitors home with a crucial 4-2 win at the Wells Fargo Center.
The loss puts the Flyers in a precarious position for any hopes of making the playoffs.
They now trail the New England outfit by five points, plus Boston holds two games in hand and all the tiebreakers.
There are only 18 games left on Philadelphia’s schedule and it only plays Boston one more time this season (Saturday at home).
And with the Rangers pounding Pittsburgh on Tuesday night, the Flyers are now chasing two teams.
Marchand finished the night with the winning goal, plus he assisted on all three goals that were part of Boston captain Patrice Bergeron’s sixth career hat trick.
All the momentum from Monday night’s stirring 3-2 overtime victory by the Flyers at Boston seemed to go out the window late in the second half of this back-to-back.
The Flyers appeared ready to take control on a power play in the third period but after a puck hopped past Travis Konecny’s stick, the Bruins managed to break from their zone two-on-one. Marchand outwaited Carter Hart and slid the puck between his pads at the 8:21 mark.
Can Philadelphia somehow bounce back from this, beat Boston on Saturday and hope the Bruins falter down the stretch?
“This type of season, you really don’t have much time to think about it,’’ Shayne Gostisbehere said after the game. “Your next game is every other day.
“I think for us right now we needed the two points, a point or something. For us as a team, it’s on to the next one. We have to get points, we have to find ways to win. That’s what we’re going to do.’’
The Bruins, now 6-0-1 against the Flyers this season, show no signs of letting up. In reality, the Flyers really don’t control their destiny anymore.
Bergeron exacted some revenge for his embarrassing fall in overtime on Monday night which led to Travis Sanheim’s game-winning goal.
He scored twice in the first period and the Flyers were in a familiar hole. Since March 1, they’ve been outscored 21-9 in the first period.
But in the second period, Jake Voracek guided in a pass from Konecny past rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman (making his NHL debut) at 1:33, then Voracek set up Gostisbehere for a short-side blast at 4:03 and the score was tied.
The Flyers kept the pressure on for the rest of the period but couldn’t carry that momentum over into the third.
They finished the final period with just four shots.
“Give them (Bruins) credit, they’re a good team, an experienced team,’’ coach Alain Vigneault said. “I thought we played extremely well in the second period.
“Unfortunately on the power play, we lost the puck and gave them a real good opportunity. Their top-end players tonight were real good.’’
Added Oskar Lindblom: “The momentum sank a little bit (after the Marchand goal). It’s a tough loss but there are still a lot of points to play for.’’
>No moral victories now
While the Flyers gave a fairly good effort, there are no gold stars given out for trying hard in losing causes at this point in the season.
“We knew what was at stake going into this game,’’ Vigneault said. “I thought our guys played with urgency, we checked when it was time to check. We didn’t give them a lot of looks. We weren’t able to finish and they were.’’
>Farabee dropped off top line
Vigneault started Joel Farabee on his customary spot on the top line with Sean Couturier but decided to make a change midway through the first period, moving Lindblom into that spot.
“I thought Joel lately hasn’t been as effective as before,’’ the coach said. “I felt Oskar being fresh and he and ‘Coots’ having some past chemistry, they might be able to get that back. They played against their top line (Bergeron).
“Sometimes those tweaks work, sometimes they don’t. But it wasn’t for lack of effort.’’
>Power play woes
The second Bergeron goal came on the power play and at that point, the Bruins were 10 for 19 against the Flyers with the man advantage this season. The Flyers are buried near the bottom of the NHL rankings. What’s the problem?
“We’re doing a lot of things right but we keep letting goals in,’’ Lindblom said. “We just have to keep battling harder and smarter out there.’’
Per NHL Stats & Information, the Flyers had 38 shots through two periods for the first time since Jan. 1, 2017 when they had 38 at Anaheim. The last time the Flyers had more than 25 shots in a period was Feb. 11, 2019 when they set the club mark for shots in a period with 28 in the third period vs. Pittsburgh. . .Scott Laughton was stopped on two breakaway tries and also fanned on a shot when facing an open net. . .The Flyers take on the Islanders on Thursday at the WFC.