Losing Flyers can’t find ways to close out games

Travis Konecny
          PHILADELPHIA — As was the case in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night, the Flyers once again kept themselves in contention well into a game against a Metropolitan Division powerhouse on Thursday night.
      But similar to the outcome in the Steel City (a 5-4 overtime loss), the Flyers found a way to waste a good effort against the Washington Capitals.
      Washington’s Garnet Hathaway scored twice in the final three minutes, leading the Capitals to a come-from-behind 5-3 win at the Wells Fargo Center. The loss extended the Flyers’ winless streak to four (0-3-1) games. The Flyers have now won only two games since Dec. 29, 2021.
      The Flyers had taken a 3-2 lead on the second of Gerry Mayhew’s two goals with 3:51 to play. He converted a Travis Sanheim feed off a rush.
      But the Capitals came roaring back. Hathaway scored his first goal with 2:57 to play, then got the game-winner with 1:12 left on the clock. The Capitals completed the burst with an empty-net goal by John Carlson.
      Interim head coach Mike Yeo started his post-game press conference with a “I don’t know what to say right now’’ line and then he proceeded to say a lot.
      “To play 57 minutes the way that we did, you lose the game that way, it’s pretty tough,’’ Yeo said. “In some ways you’re thinking about the good things you did. We know we can have success but we walked away with nothing tonight. That’s tough. We just have to stay with it. I think if we learn we can have confidence playing our game, now we have to learn we can have confidence finishing the game. We have to learn how to win; sometimes learning how to win is learning how not to lose.’’
      Is it a case of players grabbing their sticks a little tightly at crunch time?
      “Nobody can give you confidence,’’ Yeo said. “You have to earn it. We can look at that game and say we played our game for 57 minutes. There’s no reason why we can’t play it for 60. You can all of a sudden be afraid to lose, to make a mistake. When you get that lead, you can’t just say we’re going to hang on here.’’
      Travis Konecny completely agreed with that assessment.
      “Mistakes are going to happen,’’ he said. “We’re learning. It’s a tough time right now. You have to go out there with the mentality that you’re going to do your job. You can’t be afraid to make mistakes.’’
      Even though the Flyers are without a bunch of their top players due to injury, there’s no excuse for surrendering three goals in three minutes after playing good hockey for 57 minutes.
      ““You have to find a way to win those games,’’ Mayhew said. “We just have to keep pushing. We have to win some games.’’
       Sanheim’s goal with 58.7 seconds left in the second period gave the Flyers a 2-2 tie.
      Claude Giroux started the sequence with a pass off the rush to Travis Konecny at the top of the right circle. Konecny spotted Sanheim breaking to the net and he fired a high shot past Ilya Samsonov.
      Washington took a 2-1 lead when Joe Snively connected off a rebound during a power play at 11:09. The Flyers killed off a five-on-three situation which last 45 seconds but couldn’t off the Caps on the second man advantage.
      The Capitals took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Michal Kempny at 18:35 of the first period.
      Goaltender Martin Jones appeared to be screened as the defenseman’s long shot made it through a maze of bodies.
      Mayhew got that one back with a power play goal at 8:54 of the second period. He converted a nice cross-slot pass from Oskar Lindblom.
      Scott Laughton voiced the feelings of frustration shared by a lot of players.
      “It’s frustrating,’’ he said. “You have to find a way to close those out. We played two pretty good games against two good teams (Washington, Pittsburgh). We just couldn’t find a way. We played good for 57 minutes. It stings. It’s a bad feeling.’’
     >Short shots

Giroux needs one goal for 290 in his career, which would tie him with Eric Lindros for eighth place on the Flyers’ alltime list. . .The Flyers resume action on Monday when they host Carolina in a Presidents’ Day 3 p.m. game. . .Washington coach Peter Laviolette, former coach of the Flyers from 2009-2014, reached the 700-win plateau the other night and now stands third among all active NHL coaches in that category. The Islanders’ Barry Trotz tops the list with 877. . .The Flyers, originally scheduled off on Friday, will now practice on that day and take Saturday off.

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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.