Flyers’ loss to Devils drops them in deeper standings hole

Joel Farabee

NEWARK, N.J. – There might be three-quarters of a season left for the Flyers but digging themselves in a hole early won’t be doing them any favors when the schedule gets late.

Make that six games without a win after Sunday night’s disheartening 5-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center.

If not for the COVID-ravaged and travel weary Islanders, the Flyers would probably find themselves in a struggle to avoid last place in the competitive Metro Division.

The Flyers tied the score with a goal from Joel Farabee at 3:04 of the third period to make it 2-2 but the Devils came right back and got a goal from Jesper Bratt at 11:57 for the winner. The Devils got another goal from Nathan Bastian at 14:14 to put the game away. The Devils also scored an empty net goal in the closing minutes.

As was the case in Wednesday night’s high-speed 2-1 loss at Florida, Flyers goaltender Martin Jones had to stand on his head just to keep this encounter close.

Time after time, Devils forwards were given too much space and Jones had to turn away breakaway bids in each of the first two periods.

With the postponement of Tuesday’s game against the Islanders, the Flyers now have two days to work on their game before the daunting task of facing the upstart Rangers in New York.

The Flyers better get something going quickly if they want to remain competitive in the standings.

“I thought killing that penalty at the beginning of the third gave us some momentum,’’ Farabee said after the game. “We got that goal there and we put ourselves right back in it. Just a few unlucky bounces, but we thought we gave ourselves a chance. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out.’’

Ivan Provorov described the mood in the locker room.

“Obviously no one is happy right now,’’ he said. “We have to find a way to win a game. Don’t make as many mistakes as we did. We’re constantly giving up chance after chance every game. Our puck support has to be way better. We have to move faster, make decisions faster. Play better overall. There definitely have been some bad bounces but we can’t use that as an excuse.’’

Scott Laughton, who assisted on Farabee’s goal, scored on a shorthanded breakaway at 17:07 of the first period when he secured a pass from Provorov and broke clear. He shook off a check from P.K. Subban and backhanded a shot past goalie Mackenzie Blackwood for his fourth goal of the season.

That answered a goal by New Jersey’s Dougie Hamilton at 5:07. The defenseman pinched in deep and was able to deflect a puck past Jones.

Laughton seemed to be one of the few Flyers with some pep in his step.

“We haven’t been able to get those big goals in a timely fashion,’’ he said. “We miss an open net or hit a post. It just hasn’t been good enough. We have to stick together. It’s better this happened in November than late in the year. We’re still in it. You have to stay positive. There’s no one else coming in to help this group. We have to figure it out.’’

The Devils came out with an aggressive approach in the second period and it paid off with a goal from Andreas Johnsson. After getting stopped on a breakaway, he wound up with the puck in front and didn’t fail the second time at 1:47.

Once again the Flyers’ power play kept firing blanks, going 0 for 3 and falling to four for its last 50 attempts.

“We’re trying to find a way to be better,’’ Provorov said. “Overall we’ve struggled. We’re finding ways to get better. I think we did a better job tonight. We didn’t score but we had some chances, some momentum.’’

Coach Alain Vigneault was asked about the team’s perceived loss of confidence. The psyche looks a bit fragile right now.

“We make it 2-2, we kill off two penalties and we should be feeling confident about where our game is,’’ he said. “Then we make two mistakes you can’t make. Very disappointing to do that. We’ll try to regroup. At the end of the day, you have plays you have to make. Unfortunately we didn’t make them.’’

>Short shots

Philly’s Zach MacEwen got the best of New Jersey’s Mason Geertsen in a second period fight. . .The Flyers entered the game having scored just 29 goals in their previous 15 games, a 1.93 average, second-worst in the league. . .Travis Sanheim’s 22:21 minutes of ice time average is his career high, surpassing 21:53 last year.



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About Wayne Fish 2444 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.