With a team struggling as badly as the Flyers have the past week, was it realistic to think they could end a long winless streak at NHL-leading Boston?
Well, for the first 31 minutes of Thursday night’s game at TD Garden, the Flyers were giving the Bruins all they could handle, holding them to a scoreless tie.
Goaltender Carter Hart was standing on his head for much of the first half of the match but eventually the Bruins caught up to him in a 4-1 outcome, extending the Flyers’ winless streak to five games (0-4-1).
The Flyers were still in it, trailing just 2-1 after an Owen Tippett goal at 9:48 of the third period.
But just 16 seconds later, Boston retaliated. Pavel Zacha beat Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov in a one-on-one battle. The puck slid to David Krejci and he scored the first of two goals.
Coach John Tortorella said the Flyers simply can’t afford to suffer a breakdown in coverage like that.
“We have to be able to make more plays,’’ Tortorella said in a televised interview. “At times we were good, we were patient and at other times. . .some struggles.
“You can’t give anything free. We don’t create enough offense to give things away for free. Provy tried but it’s just a bad play. This team doesn’t understand what adversity is yet. There are going to be many situations that are harder than this. We’re still trying to build an identity – we’re not there yet.”
A goal by Tomas Nosek at 11:35 of the second period put Boston (now 11-0-0 when scoring first) on top and the Flyers could never catch up.
The Bruins are now 10-0-0 at TD Garden. Goaltender Linus Ullmark picked up the win, raising his record to 12-1. Boston’s record improved to 15-2. The Flyers fell to 7-7-3 for the season.
Boston came up with a power-play goal at 7:42 of the third to make it 2-0. Jake DeBrusk redirected David Pastrnak’s shot. At that point, the Flyers had surrendered six goals in their last 10 penalty kill situations. That number is now six out of 11.
Krejci scored again with 3:39 to play during a penalty to Provorov.
“We score that goal (by Tippett), they come down and score and it changes the momentum of the game,’’ Scott Laughton said. “We couldn’t find our footing again. Great start to the game. It’s getting frustrating, losing five in a row. Special teams, we’ve got to figure it out.’’
Tippett acknowledged the Flyers got off to a good start but, like the case in recent games, couldn’t sustain the energy.
“We were patient, we didn’t give them much in the first half of the game,’’ Tippett said. “On special teams, you can’t give them too many opportunities or they are going to score.’’
Travis Konecny, looking to register a point in an eighth straight game (which would have been a career high), suffered what appeared to be an injury to his right hand during a second period collision with Pastrnak. Konecny, who leads the Flyers with 19 points, headed to the locker room and did not return to action.
>Praise for Cates
Prior to the game, Tortorella had praise for the play of forward Noah Cates.
“When you talk about Noah, he just stays with it,’’ Tortorella said. “He’s still doing things away from the puck. Very smart player. When he wasn’t scoring, he didn’t press. Didn’t cheat on the offense. I don’t think he knows how to cheat, he’s so sound.’’
>More swagger from the youngsters
Tortorella was asked if there’s a way of instilling some confidence in a few of his younger players who are struggling right now.
“I can’t give it to them,’’ he said. “I don’t have it in my pockets. It’s something that’s a goal of ours as an organization, at least as a coaching staff.’’
Tortorella coached in his 1,400th NHL game, making him the first American-born bench boss to reach that plateau. He is only the fourth active coach to be involved in that many games and 12th all-time.
Patrick Brown, making his first appearance of the season after a lengthy recovery from offseason back surgery, spent the majority of the game on the fourth line. Normally a center, Brown was moved over to right wing. . .The Flyers complete their three-game road trip on Saturday night when they visit the Montreal Canadiens. . .The Flyers have fallen to 31st in the NHL in faceoff percentage. They are winning draws at just a 45-percent clip.