PHILADELPHIA – It was a stunning overtime loss but at least Flyers fans had a bit of a consolation prize.
Rookie Tyson Foerster scored his first NHL goal and added an assist.
The Flyers rallied from a 3-1 deficit against a quality opponent, the Carolina Hurricanes, and held a 4-3 lead with time running out. But Carolina’s Martin Necas scored with just 0.3 seconds left and Sebastian Aho completed a hat trick 28 seconds into overtime to hand the Flyers a 5-4 defeat on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Foerster now has three points in his last two games and already looks quite comfortable on patrol of NHL ice surfaces.
Down 2-0 early in the second period, the Flyers watched Foerster finish off a two-on-one rush with Noah Cates, sending a hard wrist shot past goalie Frederik Andersen at 4:56.
Later, after Carolina scored to restore the two-goal margin, Foerster was involved in the offense again. With the Flyers on a five-on-three manpower advantage, Foerster fired another hard shot which Andersen couldn’t contain. Cates pounced on the rebound and poked it beyond the goalie’s reach at 18:18.
Foerster and a bunch of other young Flyers are learning some valuable lessons.
It would have been nice if Foerster could have enjoyed a full-blown celebration for his first NHL goal but it wasn’t to be.
“It was a good feeling to score but at the end of the day we didn’t win the game,” Foerster said. “We just have to look on the next game.
“I feel like every game for me has been about learning, gaining confidence. I just wish we came out with the win. I felt pretty good tonight. It was nice to finally get one. This league is all about confidence. I feel like mine’s pretty high right now. All in all I felt I played pretty well.”
In the third period, Joel Farabee scored off an Owen Tippett rebound at 3:33 to knot the score at 3-3. Farabee has scored in consecutive games after going goal-less in his previous 26 games.
Then, Andersen attempted a clear shot behind his net which was stopped by Morgan Frost. He fed Brendan Lemieux out front for the go-ahead goal at 5:50.
Goaltender Felix Sandstrom faced a lot of quality scoring chances and kept the Flyers in it until the closing seconds.
Scott Laughton took a penalty in the final seconds which didn’t help the cause. The Flyers were going with four position players against six (Carolina pulled its goalie) when the puck went in the net to tie the score.
“A lot of guys battled hard,” Laughton said. “Get the lead there, I take a penalty with seven seconds (left), they score and the first shift of overtime.
“I thought a lot of guys played well, especially some of our young guys – Foerster, ‘Tipper’ (Owen Tippett), Cates. I know I need to be better. Obviously you want to be on the right side of it. You play a team like that, it seems like it’s playoff hockey every time you play them.”
Indeed. The Flyers were swept by the Hurricanes in the three-game season series but all three losses were by one goal.
“A last-second play like that, it’s pretty tough,” Cates admitted. “You’re thinking about all the little plays – five, 10, 15 seconds before that could have decided that game. It’s tough to look back.”
Speaking of the little plays, the Flyers failed to win one critical faceoff in the closing seconds.
“It’s a good opportunity for me to work on it,” Cates, a center, said. “To be out there in a huge part of the game. It kind of slips away. If you get two or three opportunities there, you should at least want to win one. It came down to that and they put one in there.”
Aho opened the scoring at 14:52 of the first period when the Flyers appeared to miss a defensive assignment below the end line. Aho was allowed to unload a shot from the slot.
Defenseman Brady Skjei took advantage of Wade Allison’s weak clear attempt along the board to score Carolina’s second goal. Skjei’s shot found its way through Flyer defenseman Cam York’s accidental screen at 16:51.
Aho also scored Carolina’s third goal. With the Flyers about to be whistled on a delayed penalty call, Aho buried a shot from the left hash marks at 13:55.
Coach John Tortorella’s post-game press conferences usually last about six minutes. Saturday night’s lasted barely one.
“I thought we played really well, I thought we had the game in control,” Tortorella said. And with that, he left the podium.
The Flyers return to action on Tuesday when they play the Florida Panthers in the fourth game of the current seven-game homestand.