Maybe the Flyers had nothing to play for but they certainly competed like they did.
In Tuesday night’s game against the Maple Leafs, the Flyers gave the home team all it could handle before eventually conceding a 5-2 defeat at Scotiabank Arena.
It was the Flyers’ sixth straight setback and 11th loss in their last 13 games.
Toronto, looking to lock up home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs, might have figured to have an easy time of it with the last place – and injury-riddled – Flyers.
But that was not the case as the Flyers tried their best to keep the Leafs’ high-powered offense in check.
It was still a 2-1 game until the final minute of the second period.
Not too bad considering the Flyers are using a lot of youngsters, including three players who were still in college hockey a couple weeks ago.
“It’s a challenge playing in the NHL,’’ interim head coach Mike Yeo said. “Everyone of these guys coming in here, they’re used to playing a college schedule. Almost since the time they’ve been here they’ve played half of a college season already in a very short period of time. It’s more of a challenge that you’re up for every single game. There are times when you might not have a hundred percent energy. You have to play confident and I think they’ve done a good job of that so far.’’
The Flyers fell victim to their league-worst penalty kill for Toronto’s go-ahead goal by William Nylander at 13:39 of the second period. With Ivan Provorov in the penalty box, Nylander powered a shot into the net for a 2-1 lead.
Later, Keith Yandle fell down and Jason Spezza scored with 25 seconds left in the period to put the Flyers in a 3-1 hole. David Kampf scored at 10:11 of the third period to put the game away, although rookie defenseman Ronnie Attard scored his second NHL goal with 2:34 to play to make the score a bit more respectable. Toronto then scored into an empty net.
Timothy Liljegren’s goal at 1:35 of the second period broke a scoreless tie. The play was set up by Alexander Kerfoot, who eluded a Noah Cates check and found Liljegren out front for an easy shot past Martin Jones.
James van Riemsdyk’s 22nd goal of the season tied it at 8:07. Travis Konecny triggered the play with a steal. Yandle’s shot deflected off Joel Farabee and JVR sent the loose puck beyond the reach of goalie Jack Campbell.
It’s like a broken record but bears repeating: The Flyers can’t seem to get out of their own way in second periods. The goals allowed number in the middle frames reached 97 on Tuesday night.
“I can’t point to anything particular why we struggle in those,’’ van Riemsdyk said. “Generally with long line chases you have to do a better job of making sure with the puck in certain situations. Maybe that’s part of it.’’
There are nights when Jones stands on his head and it’s still not enough. This game was a good example.
“I thought we battled hard tonight,’’ he said. “Some breakdowns cost us. They’re a talented team and they finished off some plays. But overall I thought the effort was pretty good. Just some breakdowns led to some goals.’’
>Injury list stays intact
Tuesday night’s lineup was the same as Sunday’s against Buffalo, with Cam Atkinson, Rasmus Ristolainen, Cam York, Patrick Brown and goalie Carter Hart remaining on the shelf.
With those players out, the Flyers were set to break their record for man-games lost to injury. The stat was begun 11 years ago and the high mark was set in the 2011-12 when the Flyers lost 440 man-games to injury. Entering Tuesday night’s game, the Flyers had totaled 438 man-games lost to injury.
The Flyers fell to 5-34-4 when allowing an opponent to score first. . .The Flyers complete their two-game road trip with a visit to Montreal on Thursday night. . .Jones entered the game with an 8-2-1 record, 1.98 goals-against average and .927 save percentage for his career against the Leafs. . .Toronto’s 58-goal scorer Auston Matthews was scratched due to a minor injury. . .Defenseman Kevin Connauton suffered a lower-body injury during a collision along the boards and did not return to action.