PHILADELPHIA — Close but still no check mark in the victory column.
The Flyers took a 3-2 lead into the final minutes of Tuesday night’s game against the Islanders, but then gave up a tying goal and lost in an epic nine-round shootout, 4-3.
The loss extended the Flyers’ winless streak to nine games (0-7-2).
New York’s Oliver Wahlstrom scored the only goal in the shootout at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Islanders pulled even at 3-3 with 4:28 to play. Casey Czikas, who had not scored in 43 games prior to a goal in Monday night’s Flyers-Islanders game at New York, did the honors and the game went into overtime.
The Flyers took a 3-2 lead on a goal by Claude Giroux.
Giroux took a lead pass from linemate Cam Atkinson, broke in and scored at the 4:05 mark of the third period, unlocking a 2-2 tie.
The frustration level in the Flyers’ locker room is obviously getting high. The Flyers are doing a lot of good things and not getting rewarded.
“We know we’re playing the right way right now,’’ Giroux said after the game on a media Zoom call. “Tonight maybe we deserved to win. At this point we’re just finding ways to lose hockey games. At the same time we’re confident if we keep playing this way we’re going to start winning games. As frustrated as we are about the result, we have to keep doing the right things and we’re going to get rewarded.’’
Interim head coach Mike Yeo already endured a 10-game (0-8-2) winless streak when he was an assistant coach earlier this season so he knows confidence can become a fragile thing.
“Obviously we all have our pride,’’ Yeo said. “Losing stinks, there’s no other way around it. It’s difficult. You see the effort put in tonight, the way the guys were blocking shots, paying the price for each other. It’s hard to sit here when you’re in this losing streak and feel good about progress but we have no other choice, we have to keep getting better.’’
In addition to Giroux, the Flyers got some more help from a player who had been stuck in neutral for quite awhile.
It took Travis Konecny 20 games to score one goal and just one game to connect on another.
Konecny, who notched his 100th NHL goal on Monday night, connected at 13:54 of the second period to pull the Flyers even at 2-2.
The play began with Scott Laughton’s flip bouncing off goaltender Semyon Varlamov’s pad and sliding to Oskar Lindblom. The Swede got the puck over to Konecny and the rest was easy.
What’s been different the last two games?
“I just put a lot of trust in everyone and that’s kind of how our line has been rolling right now,’’ Konecny said. “If everyone is doing the right things it will pay off for us. It just happens to be me (to score) the last two games. Our line has been sticking to it, playing the right way and we’re getting rewarded.’’
New York took a 2-1 lead at 13:28. Josh Bailey was stationed in front and Anthony Beauvillier provided the entry pass from the left corner. Bailey shook off a check from Travis Sanheim and slipped a short shot past Carter Hart.
After surrendering the first goal barely two minutes into the game, the Flyers came alive.
They thought they had a tying goal at the 11-minute mark when Joel Farabee scored off the rebound of an Ivan Provorov point shot. However, the Islanders challenged the play, claiming Atkinson was offside and they were right. No goal.
Unfazed, the Flyers finally notched a legitimate goal on a power play. Rookie defenseman Cam York’s point shot hit the end boards and took a funny hop. James van Riemsdyk cornered the bouncing puck and slid it between goaltender Semyon Varlamov’s pads.
JVR liked the Flyers started the game.
“There’s definitely more jump tonight,’’ he said at the first intermission. “Obviously we wanted to make sure we got off to a good start. We were on our toes. Minus that first goal we gave up, after that I thought we had a good push back.”
The Flyers are now 0-4 in the shootout this season and have yet to even score a goal (blanked in 16 tries). In their shootout history (since 2005), they are just 53-96, worst by far in the NHL.
Why the struggle?
“I don’t think it’s about confidence, it’s about scoring more goals than them in the shootout,’’ Giroux said. “We’re not doing that right now. At the end of the day, it’s up to us who shoot to get it done. We have to find a way to get one.’’
The Flyers next play host to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night. It should be an emotional game as it marks the return of long-time Flyer forward Jake Voracek. He has only one goal for the Jackets but 24 assists. . .Showing no fear, the Flyers’ Zack MacEwen took on 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara in a third period bout. Chara got the best of the action but the Flyer bench appreciated MacEwen’s bravado.