PHILADELPHIA – How much Saturday’s 7-4 loss to Colorado took out of the Flyers wasn’t evident until late in Sunday afternoon’s game against the lowly Ottawa Senators.
After taking a 3-1 lead in the second period, the Flyers ran out of gas, gave up four straight goals and came out on the short end of a 5-3 score at the Wells Fargo Center.
Vladimir Tarasenko’s goal off a two-on-rush with 4:53 to play broke a 3-3 tie and secured the win for the last-place Senators and handed the Flyers their second defeat in as many days.
The Flyers held a 3-2 lead going into the third period and were 16-1-2 when leading after two periods.
This was the Flyers’ third game in four days after a faily long road trip but the Flyers weren’t making any excuses.
“I don’t think we played bad but I don’t think we’ve been playing at the level we were playing (a five-game win streak) lately,” said Sean Couturier. “It definitely wasn’t good enough.”
Couturier was asked if the Flyers can halt this two-game losing streak in timely fashion.
“I think so,” he said. “It’s only two games. We’ve been going one game at a time anyway all year, that’s our mindset. We’re not going to change now. Tough loss but we’re still all right here.”
Coach John Tortorella indicated even though the Flyers got off to a good start, there wasn’t enough time spent in Ottawa’s zone. It was pretty much one-and done. The forechecking wasn’t what it has been.
“I think maybe we have to have a little more structure,” Couturier said. “Simplify things offensively. Support each other and go to the net. It’s one thing to put pucks on net but you need traffic, some bodies there to recover the puck and get some second chances.”
Earlier, Egor Zamula didn’t waste any time making his presence felt, hoping to avert any hangover from the Colorado game, a defeat which snapped a five-game win streak.
The young defenseman scored both of his goals in the first period less than five minutes apart to put the Flyers ahead.
Goal No. 1 came at 11:57. After a pileup in front of the Flyers’ net, the puck popped in the air and back to Zamula on the left side. With goaltender Mads Sogaard tied up in the scrum, Zamula fired into the exposed side of the net.
Then, with the Flyers on a power play, Zamula set up shop at the top of the slot and unloaded a bullet past the goalie’s glove at 16:40.
“He’s got great poise back there,” Couturier said of Zamula’s play with the man advantage. “I think he uses that reach pretty well. He can create those passing lanes, those shooting lanes pretty well. It’s fun to see him kind of take over and improve his game. He’s been good. He had a good game, that’s what we expect of him. Poise and under control offensive game.”
Despite a minus-2 on Sunday, Zamula is still a plus-10 and continues to try to cut down on his miscues.
“Just the player he’s grown into, he’s so confident with the puck,” Farabee observed. “He moves the (blue) line really well. He creates all that ice with how long he is. He’s only going to get better and better.”
Zamula, an undrafted player, has been trying to break through since 2019. Now it appears to be happening.
“It’s getting better,” he said. “I’m working in practice. My play is much better than the last three games. It’s getting there.”
In the second period, Ottawa got on the board by way of a goal from ex-Flyer Zack MacEwen. Philadelphia’s defensive coverage broke down and that set MacEwen loose for an improbable breakaway. He beat Samuel Ersson on the glove side at 4:04. The goal was unassisted.
Then the teams traded goals with Joel Farabee’s power-play goal at 10:50 making it 3-1. Farabee scored on a long shot through a maze of bodies. That extended his point streak to six games (five goals, four assists).
But the Senators weren’t going quietly. The puck ended up under a pile of bodies entangled with Ersson. The puck then got poked in by defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker just before the whistle blew and the goal withstood another review to cut the Flyers’ lead to 3-2 at 11:45.
In the third period, ex-Flyer Claude Giroux jumped on a rebound and scored at 3:19 to continue the comeback.
“Back-to-back for both teams, everyone’s playing tired,” Farabee said. “I think it’s just a mental focus thing. Some bounces didn’t go our way. But I feel like the effort is there. At this time of year, you just have to bear down and get those two points.”
Ersson gave the Flyers a chance but there were too many breakdowns.
After a day off on Monday, the Flyers tie on their skates again on Tuesday for a home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. . .Farabee played in his 299th NHL game. He can hit the 300-mark on Tuesday vs. the Lightning.