In most normal seasons, winning three games in a row would be no big deal for a tradition-rich team like the Flyers.
But this is no normal season for the local hockey squad.
Going into Wednesday night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings, the Flyers had won three straight only once this season (in mid-December against Vegas, Arizona and New Jersey).
There was a chance to duplicate that feat again at the Wells Fargo Center as the Flyers were coming off two consecutive wins against Los Angeles and Winnipeg before the NHL All-Star break.
But it was an uphill battle all night as the Flyers kept falling behind and trying to catch up. Eventually the task proved too much and the Flyers lost, 6-3.
That ended a 17-game (16-0-1) streak against Detroit at home dating back to 1997.
The Flyers were hoping to start the post-All Star break on a positive note but it was not to be.
Interim head coach Mike Yeo sounded a little perplexed by his team’s performance. Granted, his team had been inactive for the better part of a week but they did look quite spirited in Tuesday’s practice.
“Obviously this is a disappointing game,’’ he said. “You feel pretty good going into the break about where we were going and clearly that game did not match our expectations. Now we have to respond to that.’’
Heading into the final minutes of the third period, the Flyers had delivered only one shot in that session. Certainly not good enough, in the coach’s eyes.
“It didn’t seem like we had anybody who could keep swinging the momentum,’’ Yeo said. “We would have one good shift and then we would follow it up with a bad shift. Our next game will tell us if this was just a little sloppiness coming out of the break or how much more work we have to do.’’
Scott Laughton was equally surprised the Flyers came out with such a flat effort after the encouraging two-game streak had ended a 13-game nightmare through most of January.
“We were playing some good hockey before the break,’’ Laughton said. “It seemed like we were watching too much tonight. They were making plays around us, we spent too much time in the D-zone and didn’t have energy to get out on the offense. Definitely frustrating.’’
Three times the Flyers scored goals within 24 seconds of a Detroit marker but it wasn’t enough.
Detroit broke a 2-2 tie in the second period when Pius Suter was left unguarded in the high slot and he scored past Carter Hart. Robby Fabbri followed that up with a goal at 6:12 on another defense coverage breakdown.
The Flyers closed to 4-3 within 21 seconds as Laughton sent a shot into the net as goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic looked on. But Detroit made it 5-3 at 8:46 of the third on a goal by Givani Smith and later added an empty-net goal.
The Red Wings took leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in the first period but each time the Flyers quickly responded with goals of their own.
Dylan Larkin opened the scoring at 2:43 on a power play when his mid-range shot hit Ivan Provorov’s skate and past Hart.
The Flyers answered just 20 seconds later. Zack MacEwen’s blast deflected off Isaac Ratcliffe and around goalie Nedeljkovic. The Red Wings challenged the call, claiming goaltender interference on Ratcliffe but lost on review. It was Ratcliffe’s first NHL goal.
Detroit regained the lead at 6:02 when Lucas Raymond was allowed to skate in, shoot and recover his own rebound for a backhander into the net.
Unfazed, the Flyers retaliated 24 seconds later. Claude Giroux set up Travis Sanheim for a short blast into the net.
“G made a nice play coming around the net and I was able to bypass the winger that was defending me and I was happy to see that one go in,” Sanheim said during the first intermission.
Derick Brassard (hip injury) played just his second game since Dec. 8 and understandably was a little sore after the match.
“My timing, it took me a few shifts,’’ he said. “After that I created a few chances, but there are a few plays I would like to get back. I’m going to take baby steps here and get better every game.’’
>Ratcliffe gets lucky bounce
Ratcliffe disclosed MacEwen’s shot actually bounced “off his pants.’’
“It was a pretty cool feeling,’’ he said. “I drew it up a million times how I was going to get my first NHL goal when I was young. I don’t think any of the times I drew it up it was going to go off my pants and in but I’ll take what I can get. I was lucky to be in the right spot.’’
Sanheim’s goal was his 100th NHL career point. . .The Flyers return to action for a 12 p.m. game at Detroit on Saturday . .The Flyers went scoreless in five power-play attempts.