PHILADELPHIA – In pro hockey’s overtime format, one misplay can cost a team a game, as the Flyers were rudely reminded on Tuesday night.
Scott Laughton had just fired a shot off the post of the Los Angeles Kings net when defenseman Tony DeAngelo dropped to the ice due to what he believed should have been a tripping call.
DeAngelo threw his arms up in frustration and didn’t exactly hurry to get back on his feet, perhaps believing a stoppage was coming.
But no penalty whistle was blown, the Kings broke the other way and Kevin Fiala scored off a two-on-one rush at 1:09 of the tiebreaker to send the Flyers to a 4-3 loss at the Wells Fargo Center.
More than a month had passed since the Flyers lost two straight games.
Having already defeated the much improved Kings in a tight game at Los Angeles last month, this one figured to be another nail-biter and that’s exactly how it turned out.
The two teams went into the third period tied 3-3, with shots flying around left and right. And that’s the way regulation time ended.
It culminated in frustrating fashion.
On the positive side, the Flyers did pick up a point and coach John Tortorella believed the effort was there.
“The first 10 minutes of the game I thought we were going to lose 10-nothing,’’ Tortorella said. “They just looked so much faster. But this is what I like about the team the last couple nights – we found our game, started skating. We stayed with our game. I thought we worked our asses off against a really good team.’’
The coach disagreed with DeAngelo that a penalty should have been called prior to the winning goal.
“I thought we were going to score there at the end,’’ Tortorella said. “A great chance and then they go down and score. No penalty (there). You have to skate, have to get back.’’
DeAngelo, who finished the game a minus-3 after going a minus-4 in Sunday night’s loss to Winnipeg, stayed pretty much stationary while the Kings were headed down the ice for the winning goal.
“That was a clear penalty,’’ DeAngelo said. “Not even any questions about it. Usually you call penalties most times when there’s a chance to go the other way, a wide-open chance the other way is when you’re supposed to call them. It is what it is.’’
The Flyers wound up giving the Kings five power plays and while Los Angeles scored on only one of those, the Flyers wasted a lot of time and energy on the penalty kill.
“Too many penalties,’’ Tortorella said. “I thought our penalty killers did a great job.’’
Noah Cates said killing penalties does take its toll.
“For the guys that are killing those minutes, those penalties kind of hurt us,’’ Cates said. “The energy you need, how big those moments are. When you’re in there and grinding away. . .we need to stay out of the box and get momentum for us.’’
The first period was pretty much a wild west shootout with each team scoring two goals and 14 shots.
James van Riemsdyk got the Flyers going early with a power-play goal at 5:50. Owen Tippett initiated the play with a strong rush down the middle and a split of two Kings defenders. Once clear, he dished to JVR for a shot past Pheonix Copley.
Los Angeles struck back at 9:21. Just four seconds after van Riemsdyk went to the penalty box, Anze Kopitar connected with a one-timer from the slot.
The Flyers needed only 66 seconds to retake the lead. Wade Allison cut down the slot and had his shot stopped by Copley. But Allison quickly chased down the rebound and put it back in the net.
Allison, who entered the game leading the Flyers in plus-minus at plus-10, said playing with Kevin Hayes and Laughton has been helpful in recording seven goals in 30 games of play.
“Yeah, I mean it’s pretty nice playing with two pretty special players,’’ Allison said during an intermission. “They both have a lot of games under their belt. They really know what they’re doing and they’re both pretty sweet players, so it makes the game a lot easier on me.”
After the game, Allison was in a positive frame of mind.
“We did a lot of good things,’’ he said. “We need to tighten up a little bit in the D-zone, a few less penalties to take the game out of their best players’ hands. We take what we did right and try to continue that.’’
Kopitar struck again at 11:40. Adrian Kempe circled the Flyer net and found Kopitar open in front for a short shot past Carter Hart.
The see-saw battle continued in the second period.
Philadelphia caught a break, leading to its third goal. Morgan Frost’s entry was deflected and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, making a move to the net, suddenly found the puck on his stick. He backhanded in a shot for his second goal in five games after going scoreless in his first 44 matches.
The Kings tied it with 1:44 to play in the period. DeAngelo’s weak clear was picked off and Samuel Fagemo wound up with the puck at the right hash marks for a quick shot past Hart’s glove.
“Probably could have made a better play there,’’ DeAngelo said. “Gone up the wall. Twenty different things. There’s no excuse.’’
The Flyers visit Minnesota on Thursday night and Winnipeg on Saturday before the start of the NHL winter break followed by the NHL All-Star Game.