PHILADELPHIA – It’s hardly headline news anymore. Third periods aren’t exactly the Flyers’ cup of tea.
On Wednesday night, it was another example of frustration. The Flyers were tied, 1-1, at the second intermission but couldn’t keep up with the Washington Capitals.
Result: A disappointing 4-1 loss at the Wells Fargo Center.
Dylan Strome deflected a John Carlson shot past Carter Hart at the 9:19 mark of the final frame and that stood up for the winner.
The Flyers have been outscored by a 37-23 margin in third periods this season.
It’s been an ongoing problem. When the Flyers are tied after two periods, their record is a rather unimpressive 1-4-4.
Why all the problems when the game is on the line?
Coach John Tortorella said it comes down to putting the puck in the net. A total of 23 goals in the final 20 minutes of 27 games just isn’t good enough.
“We just struggle generating offense,’’ the coach said. “It’s a problem here. Some is confidence, some of it is we just struggle.
“So we give up 11 scoring chances (for the game) tonight and we lose another game. And we developed only 11. We can’t find a way to score the next goal in the third. It comes down to a third period with I don’t think either team was generating a whole bunch. Who wins the third period? It’s just a major turnover. It’s ‘who blinks first?’ We did and we lose the game.’’
Noah Cates said it’s frustrating to keep losing in such excruciating fashion.
“We stay close and then it’s just a little extra effort to get the puck in their net,’’ he said. “And a little extra focus to keep it out of ours. So I think we’ve been playing well these last couple games. We just can’t lose focus, can’t take any shifts off.’’
Kevin Hayes, who scored the only Philadelphia goal, said the effort was there but third periods are not the place for mistakes.
At the same time, the offense has pretty much stalled out. The Flyers’ 65 goals are fewest in the Eastern Conference.
Is that because there’s a greater emphasis on defense?
“We don’t really have a full-out superstar (scoring-wise) on this team,’’ Hayes said. “One that’s going to get two or three points a night. With the injuries that we have, it’s tough to have mental lapses. That’s what we’ve been harping on. It gets frustrating when you play two great periods, kill off penalties and all of a sudden you’re down.
“I don’t want to say we have to play a perfect game, we have to be better structurally.’’
After scoring first in a game only five times in their first 25 games, the Flyers at least made it two straight in this game.
Hayes provided the early edge with a power-play goal at 15:46. With Travis Konecny and Cates setting screens in front of goalie Charlie Lindgren, Hayes launched a shot from the top of the slot which found its way to the net.
That was the Flyers’ fourth power-play goal in their last three games.
What’s been working so well lately?
“Just simplify and try to stay in our positions,’’ Konecny said. “Just wear them down and then start to make plays and have fun. The more you work hard in the first half of that power play, then it’s going to open up.’’
Washington tied the score on a power play of its own early in the second period.
James van Riemsdyk, playing his first game in five games after suffering a fractured left index finger, was in the penalty box when T.J. Oshie took control at the right hash marks and sent a shot past Hart.
Van Riemsdyk said he felt OK after missing so much playing time.
“This is a game that I saw when I got hurt what the timeline might be,” he said. “One that I was hoping to be back for. I felt like I was getting better as the game went on.”
Alex Ovechkin scored career goals Nos. 794 and 795 into an empty net in the closing minutes.
Konecny apparently thought Ovechkin was showboating a bit on the second one and gave him a whack. That cost him a 10-minute misconduct penalty.
“I think it comes down to little breakdowns,’’ Konecny said. “We had our chances, we’re just not putting them in. It’s a fine line. You’re trying to make the right plays. It’s difficult finding a balance. . .when it’s a good time to make a play and when it’s not.”
The Flyers begin a four-game road trip in Vegas on Friday. The rest of the slate includes games at Arizona, Colorado and New Jersey.