PHILADELPHIA – It only took the Chicago Blackhawks 27 years to secure their first regular-season win at the Wells Fargo Center but who’s counting?
Well, the Flyers apparently weren’t because they spent a disinterested 60 minutes on Thursday night chasing around the last-place team and wound up on the short end of a disappointing 4-1 score.
The Flyers entered the game having won eight of their last 10 and looking to go over the .500 mark for the first time since Nov. 15.
Instead, they missed on that chance and fell to 19-20-7.
Ex-Flyer goaltender Petr Mrazek picked up the win for the Blackhawks, who entered the game just 3-13-2 on the road.
The victory ended Chicago’s 16-game winless streak in regular-season games at Philadelphia dating back to Nov. 9, 1996 when the WFC was brand spanking new. The Blackhawks did win a pair of games here on the way to their 2010 Stanley Cup championship.
Throughout the season, the Flyers have relied on an energetic forecheck to set the pace of their game. When they come out flat, like they did on Thursday night, the result is fairly predictable.
“I just thought we looked flat,’’ coach John Tortorella said. “Disjointed. I don’t think we played with enough energy. You could tell right from the start it was one of those games. I didn’t like much about it at all.’’
The Flyers were playing the third game of a stretch in which they play five games in seven days. That can make it tough to maintain both mental and physical sharpness.
“It’s part of the game,’’ Tortorella said. “We have to handle it. I think it’s the mental tiredness, I think that’s the first thing that goes. I thought we were flat mentally. We weren’t quick, they checked going forward. We just weren’t anticipating. We have to find a way to get energy because we just don’t get a break (until the All-Star/NHL winter opening in the schedule).’’
Morgan Frost gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead and that usually works in their favor (8-6-2 entering the game). Frost took a lead pass from Rasmus Ristolainen and finished off what amounted to a three-on-one rush with a shot past Mrazek at 8:52 of the first period.
“I was looking to pass there, I’m not going to lie,’’ Frost said at the first intermission. “Then at the last second it just opened up and I just shot it. I’ve been told to shoot the puck a little bit more.’’
Other than that, the Flyers only had a few more quality chances.
“To be honest, I just think they just outworked us,’’ Frost said after the game. “Clearly we lacked some energy there. I don’t know what the cause of that is but they played harder so I don’t think we deserved to win tonight.’’
Frost and the rest of the Flyers aren’t using the schedule as an excuse.
“We’ve been getting a ton of rest,’’ Frost said. “I don’t think we can really use that as an excuse. Everyone’s bodies are feeling pretty good. Even if you’re tired, you have to find a way to play a little more simpler and smarter. We didn’t do that.’’
The Blackhawks tied the score at 9:51 of the second period. Jonathan Toews was stationed in front and managed to tip Seth Jones’ point shot beyond the reach of Carter Hart.
Then the Flyers’ defense momentarily fell asleep, allowing Chicago to score again. Colin Blackwell found Reese Johnson breaking down the slot and the fourth-liner made no mistake with a point-blank shot at 15:51.
Johnson scored again early in the third period to give the Blackhawks a 3-1 edge and the Flyers simply couldn’t summon the energy to find a way back.
Zack MacEwen, part of a fourth line which lives off forechecking energy, agreed the usual aggression just wasn’t there.
“We got up early but we just didn’t play the right way, we gave them a chance to get back in it,’’ he said. “We’re a forechecking team, we’re at our best when we’re doing that. . .creating turnovers and getting pucks to the net from those turnovers.
“That’s what is going to give us success. When things aren’t working, that’s what we’ve got to get back to.’’
The Flyers head to Detroit on Saturday night for a game against the Red Wings. . .Scott Laughton crashed hard into the end boards during a rush for the puck near the end of the first period. He had to be helped off but later returned to action. . .Frost has seven goals/16 points in his last 18 games.