PHILADELPHIA – After a nice five-game winning streak, the Flyers were having trouble scoring goals, posting just five in their next four. That changed late in Thursday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils.
A goal by Tyson Foerster with 50.9 seconds to play completed a two-goal comeback and tied the score at 3-3.
But New Jersey’s Luke Hughes scored 28 seconds into overtime and the Flyers wound up on the short end of a 4-3 score at the Wells Fargo Center.
It’s not like the Flyers weren’t getting their shots or chances. Coming into the game, they had launched 142 shots in the last four games (about 35 per game) but just couldn’t finish. They ended this game with a season-high 48 shots.
But things started to click when Sean Walker scored with five minutes to play to get the Flyers to within 3-2. Then came the Foerster goal to at least salvage a point.
The Flyers’ power play finally woke up. After going 0-for-10 in its previous four games, the Flyers went 2-for-6 in this match.
One of the key factors in this game was the Flyers’ penalty kill, which held New Jersey to just a single goal on five attempts, including a five-minute major penalty (and game misconduct) in the first period when Garnet Hathaway sent Jack Hughes crashing into the end boards.
There were three topics of discussion in the post-game locker room: The stellar play of goalie Carter Hart, the controversial penalties to Hathaway and the penalty killing.
“I think ‘Hartsy’ held us in there for sure, he made a couple nasty saves,” Foerster said. “We just didn’t give up. We battled back and got the point and that was big.”
Cam York criticized the referees for the call on Hathaway.
“Terrible call,” York said. “It was a terrible call, I don’t know how it was a five-minute penalty. But we trust our PK (penalty kill). It’s been dynamite all year. I thought that was a big piece as well.”
Frost said the penalty kill and Hart’s play helped get the Flyers in position for the comeback.
“We wanted to come out and play with a lot of energy,” he said. “Honestly I don’t think we had the best start there. I think our kill was giving us a lot of momentum. ‘Hartsy’ was giving us some momentum. We just started doing a lot of things better after that point.”
Scott Laughton, the only Flyer wearing a letter on his sweater, also gave his two cents.
“They looked at it,” Laughton said of the Hathaway penalty. “A five-minute boarding call but he doesn’t really hit the boards. It’s tough. I think you have to protect yourself at the same time and who you’re out against. That’s what they (the refs) decided and you have to live with it.”
Coach John Tortorella didn’t like the call.
“It’s a clean hit,” the coach said. “We just kept on playing and found a way to get a point.
“When we killed the five-minute penalty, which never should have been a penalty, we talked about that’s the hump we have to get over. We just kept on firing away. You could sense we at least had an opportunity to get back in the game.”
After falling behind by a pair of goals in the first 20 minutes of play, the Flyers did rally to cut the deficit in half in the second period.
The Flyers scored on the power play for the first time in five games (0 for 10). Frost did the honors with Travis Konecny shoveling the puck out of a pileup in front of goaltender Akira Schmid at 11:49.
But Frost kind of gave that one back early in the third period when he took a questionable penalty. The Devils got a power-play goal from Tyler Toffoli at 4:31 to make it 3-1 .
New Jersey dominated a first period in which they had a lot more quality scoring chances than the Flyers and came away with a 2-0 lead.
The Devils got on the board first and, as usual, that was not a good omen for Philadelphia, which is now 0-9-2 when an opponent gets the initial goal.
Alexander Holtz planted a shot past Carter Hart at 3:10.
Jack Hughes made it 2-0 at 15:12, finishing off a two-on-one rush with Toffoli.
Just over a minute later, Hughes endured a scary moment when Hathaway drilled him into the end boards after a high-speed rush. Hughes temporarily left the game to get a quick check-up in the locker room. He returned to action moments later.
Hathaway received a five-minute major for boarding plus a game misconduct. He could face a fine from the NHL.
“He’s a real important player for us,” Frost said. “So obviously you don’t want to lose him during the game. I don’t know if that was a major penalty but it is what it is.”
>Farabee benched with less than a minute of playing time
Tortorella pulled Farabee out of the game after just 56 seconds of playing time.
“Because he didn’t listen,” the coach said. With Hathaway gone by the end of the first period, the Flyers had to play the rest of the game with just 10 forwards.
The Flyers visit the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night. . .Sean Couturier played in his 742nd NHL game. He needs five games to tie Joe Watson for sixth in Flyers’ history. . .Foerster entered the game tied for third among rookies in plus-minus ratings with a plus-5.