ELMONT, N.Y. – Give the Flyers a bit of credit, on most nights they haven’t thrown in the towel even though the standings say they should have a long time ago.
In Saturday night’s game at UBS Arena, the Flyers were matched up against a more talented New York Islanders team with a greater incentive to compete.
Yet the Flyers put up a game effort and didn’t give in, even though coming out on the short side of a 4-0 score didn’t show it.
It was the Flyers’ fifth straight loss and kept them winless (0-5-1) in their last six.
New York, locked in a three-way battle with Florida and Pittsburgh for the wild card spots in the Eastern Conference, needed a win to keep pace with its rivals. All three teams have just two games to play and remain within a point of each other.
The Flyers’ four-game road trip ended with an 0-4 mark.
Goaltender Carter Hart, playing in his 200th NHL game, faced a lot of quality chances and held his own. The second and third Islander goals, by Brock Nelson and Samuel Bolduc in the second period, came off semi-breakaways with shots from close range.
Hart couldn’t find much fault in the Flyers’ overall effort.
“We played hard, we just gave them too much time and space,” Hart said. “They were able to generate some chances and they just capitalized on them.
“There were some pucks at the net, we really didn’t get any bounces our way. I thought we played hard in their zone. Just a couple breakdowns cost us.”
Nelson scored at 7:50 when the Flyers defense left too wide a gap up the middle. Defenseman Noah Dobson, standing on the New York end line, fired a pass which Nelson caught in full stride. Hart had no chance on the shot from the right circle.
Bolduc made it 3-0 at 15:06.
The defenseman found open ice down the left side. He took a pass from Bo Horvat and scored from the faceoff dot. The Isles added a fourth goal with 1:39 to play when Hudson Fasching finished off a two-on-one rush.
“The third one I wanted back,” Hart said.
In the first period, Scott Mayfield scored at 14:19 when his long shot made its way through traffic. That goal was originally credited to Anders Lee, but officials reversed that scoring after the period ended.
Coach John Tortorella chose to pull Hart after the second period and inserted Felix Sandstrom for the third. He allowed the Islanders’ fourth goal.
Hart said he had no idea why Tortorella made the switch to Sandstrom for the third period.
“I didn’t feel like I deserved to be pulled,” Hart said. “It is what it is.”
Asked for a reason why the move was made, Tortorella simply said, “I wanted to take him out.”
The Flyers were shut out for the sixth time this season. New York goaltender Ilya Sorokin picked up his sixth shutout of the season.
Similar to other games recently, the Flyers played a decent first period, then sort of crumbled in the second.
“They’re a super disciplined team,” James van Riemsdyk said. “They don’t really give you anything for free. It seemed like a couple times we could have been sharper. Make one little mistake and that’s how they generate their chances.”
Added Travis Sanheim: “A few mistakes by us, I thought we had some good minutes. They’re a tough team to play against, they’re fighting for a playoff spot. You could see that tonight. We didn’t bury enough chances. They capitalized on their chances and we didn’t.”
The second and third New York goals could have been blamed partly on some rather aggressive forechecking by the Flyers.
“The first period was good,” Tortorella said. “We just can’t sustain. We’re just playing in spurts right now.
“They beat us with a number of long passes. I just thought we were flat sometimes. Our forward gets beat when our defenseman is down in the offensive zone. So we had some breakdowns there.”
The Flyers return home to play the league-leading Boston Bruins on Sunday night. The Flyers are just 2-11-1 in the second half of back-to-back games. . .The Flyers made a successful challenge of what appeared to be a Zach Parise goal in the second period. After review, referees said Parise struck the puck with a high stick.