Back-to-back games don’t always have to be daunting, unless they’re a thousand miles apart and the opponent hasn’t won a game in regulation time all season.
Such was the task facing the Flyers on Saturday night.
Playing the Stars in Dallas less than 24 hours after a come-from-behind 2-1 win at Carolina, the weary Flyers gave a game effort but came up short in a 5-2 loss at American Airlines Arena.
Dallas was the last team to finally record its first victory without the use of overtime or a shootout this season. The Flyers gave up five goals in regulation time for the first time this season.
Offensive problems continue to plague the Flyers. They have scored just 13 goals in their last eight games.
“I thought we came to play,’’ coach Alain Vigneault said, mindful of the Flyers’ 19 shots in the first period. “In tonight’s game there were two turning points: Our inability to beat their goaltender in that first period, we had some grade-A looks. We should have been able to capitalize on a few of those. In the second, we make it 2-1 and then on the next shift we turn the puck over. That was the difference.’’
Vigneault said he’s not concerned with the lack of offensive production.
“Not with the looks we’re getting,’’ he said. “That first period tonight, what a way to come out on back-to-back nights. The energy and the plays we were making. If we capitalize, our energy level would have gone up. It’s unfortunate but that’s the way hockey is.’’
The Stars took a 2-0 lead before James van Riemsdyk finally scored at 16:36 of the second period. But the Stars came right back just moments later on a goal by Tyler Seguin to make it 3-1.
Goaltender Martin Jones suffered his first loss of the season for the Flyers.
The Flyers welcomed center Kevin Hayes and defenseman Ryan Ellis back to the lineup. Hayes was making his season debut after undergoing preseason abdominal surgery. Ellis returned after missing nine games with a hip/groin injury.
The Stars’ Luke Glendening scored in the first period to give Dallas a 1-0 lead. The Flyers were all over Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin in the first period but couldn’t get anything in the net.
In the second period, Roope Hintz connected off a tic-tac-toe play for the two-goal edge.
Dallas put it away with a power-play goal at 2:27 of the third period for a 4-1 edge. Ivan Provorov did pick up a power-play goal at 8:07. It was the first goal by a Flyers defenseman since the second game of the season.
With Hayes back, Vigneault made some line changes. He put Hayes with Cam Atkinson and Joel Farabee on the second line, dropped Oskar Lindblom to the fourth line and had Scott Laughton skating with Derick Brassard and van Riemsdyk on the third line.
The loss dropped the Flyers’ record to 7-4-2.
“We knew it was going to be a hard game,’’ Provorov said. “I think we just kind of got away from our game in the second and that’s what hurt us.’’
>Hayes, Ellis returns go well
Vigneault thought both players handled their first games back rather well.
“In Ryan’s case, I thought he looked comfortable,’’ Vigneault said. “Hayes had good energy in the first period, better energy in the third. You have to think it’s a step in the right direction.’’
Ellis wound up leading the team in ice time so things apparently went OK.
“Everything was fine,’’ Ellis said. “I felt OK. It’s tough when you miss games and then jump back in. It just wasn’t our night tonight.’’
Hayes hadn’t played a game since May 10, the Flyers’ final game of the 2020-21 season.
“I felt pretty good with the puck honestly,’’ Hayes said. “Speed was a little fast, I hadn’t played a game in 5, 6 months. Mentally I’ve got to get my jump back and get back into hockey shape, game shape.’’
>Power play showing signs
The Flyers entered the game just one for their last 22 on the power play but connected once (by Provorov) and nearly had another. Are things getting better?
“Definitely the few games before things weren’t going our way, we weren’t clicking,’’ Provorov said. “Today I think we did pretty good on the power play.’’
Jones and Carter Hart entered the game with the NHL’s leading save percentage at .935. Forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel, who was put on waivers Friday, was claimed by the Colorado Avalanche. . .With Ellis returning to the lineup, Nick Seeler was assigned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. . . Flyers have not won a game in Dallas since Oct. 18, 2014, the longest drought by years of any building in the NHL.