PHILADELPHIA – In a crossword puzzle, the Flyers’ season could be summed up in one 11-letter clue: Frustrating.
One need look no farther than the team’s last three games, all against Metropolitan Division powerhouses, all winding up in close, painful losses.
After falling apart late in recent games against Pittsburgh and Washington, the Flyers kept the trend somewhat going on Monday afternoon against the Carolina Hurricanes at the Wells Fargo Center.
Oskar Lindblom’s goal with 4:53 remaining in the third period gave the Flyers a 3-3 tie. But Brett Pesce’s goal with 18 seconds left in overtime broke the tie and handed the Flyers a painful 4-3 loss.
The defeat extended the Flyers’ winless streak to five games.
After the game, both interim head coach Mike Yeo and a handful of players were asked just how high the frustration level really is.
“Some games we’re playing well and we have a chance to win,’’ Lindblom said. “We find a way to lose. It’s tough to play these games when you feel like you can win and then they fall through your hands.’’
The Flyers surrendered a goal to Vincent Trocheck at the 7:15 mark of the third period to give Carolina a 3-2 lead.
Trocheck converted a rebound past goaltender Martin Jones for the go-ahead goal.
Patrick Brown, just returning from a month-long injury, scored at 5:19 of the third period to pull the Flyers even at 2-2. But they couldn’t sustain the tie for very long.
“I thought we played well, it’s a tough one to swallow at the end,’’ Brown said. Asked how frustrating it was to sit and watch from afar during his injury absence, Brown responded: “It’s frustrating to watch the team that you care about – sweat and bleed with. We have to come together as a group and try to win some games.’’
Yeo sounds frustrated himself but conceded he’s not supposed to allow himself to feel that way.
“These are games we could have won, should have won potentially,’’ he said of the three games over the past week. “We’re not closing out games. For me personally, I’m not allowed to be frustrated, (feel) disappointed or sorry for ourselves. We’re resilient right now, determined to keep getting better. I ask the same of the players.’’
Jones, filling in for regular starting goalie Carter Hart (eye infection), did his best to keep the Flyers in it by turning away several good scoring chances in the second period.
The Hurricanes did get a couple past Jones in that frame. The second, scored by Teuvo Teravainen when his shot glanced off defenseman Nick Seeler’s leg, gave Carolina a 2-1 lead at 12:13.
After a scoreless first period, in which the Flyers held the Hurricanes to only two shots, Carolina broke through just 24 seconds into the second. An entry from Jesper Fast in the right corner hopped over defenseman Travis Sanheim’s stick and Nino Niederreiter poked in a shot from close range.
The Flyers came right back on a goal by Gerry Mayhew at the 59-second mark. Mayhew gathered the rebound of a Justin Braun point shot and attempted a backhand pass into the slot. The puck hit defenseman Sebastian Aho’s stick and deflected past goaltender Frederik Andersen.
It was Mayhew’s sixth goal in his last 10 games.
Mayhew has been one of the few bright spots over the past couple weeks since the NHL All-Star Game.
“We have to keep pushing,’’ Mayhew said. “I thought we played a good 60 minutes. When you lose the game it stinks but at least you take some good things from it. When we get some guys back in the lineup we’ll get going. For now, just keep doing what we’re doing.’’
Before the game, James van Riemsdyk said there were a couple reasons why Jones has managed to stay sharp despite long breaks between appearances.
“I think it’s his experience and how to manage his time better to stay sharp and ready to play,’’ JVR said. “Both goalies work with ‘Dilly’ (goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh) to focus on different aspects of the game. Jones has been awesome for us.”
Van Riemsdyk knew they were in for a challenging afternoon with the Metropolitan Division leaders in town.
“It’s just the style that they play,’’ he said. “Super quick – a big-time skating game. Just a lot of weapons up and down their lineup.’’
Jones said: “We just have to keep working at it. That’s how this game goes sometimes. There are ups and downs. It’s obviously a tough stretch for us, we’ve had a lot of guys out. Lost some games we could have won. But you just have to keep working at it and get better.’’
The Flyers return to action on Tuesday when they play host to coach Craig Berube and the St. Louis Blues. . .The Flyers are now 3-22-4 when an opponent scores first.