Flyers suffer complete meltdown in 9-3 loss at Montreal

Travis Sanheim

      Mathematically, they’re still alive.

      Realistically, they’re not.

      After Tuesday night’s complete 9-3 meltdown at last-place Montreal, the Flyers find themselves all but out of the postseason mix.

      Their winless streak reached eight games (0-6-2) and there are only three games left in their season. They’re looking up at the New York Islanders, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Washington and the odds are not in their favor.

      In the last six games, the Flyers have been outscored 32-12.

      It’s the worst loss of coach John Tortorella’s two-year stint with Philadelphia.

      Even so, the coach wasn’t about to badmouth his team, especially after the way they held onto a playoff spot for 124 days.

      “We made a lot of mistakes,” he conceded. “Turnovers, coverages, any part of the game, there were mistakes. For the most part, it’s uncharacteristic of the club. Even though we’ve been going through the losing here, we’ve done some things we haven’t done a lot of the year.

      “So you’ve got to eat it. We have to stay together and try and solve things. Whether it’s enough time to do what we want to do to try to get in, I’m not concerned that. I’m just concerned about being pros, get some of our dignity back.”

      If a team allows nine goals, there’s a good chance the defense almost completely broke down.

      “Playing the right way, I think that’s the most important part that we have to stay together with,” the coach said. “It’s a good group no matter what happened tonight or what we’re going through. I’m frustrated for them that we’re ending it this way. We just have to lick our wounds and I think it’s incumbent on us to finish the year the right way.”

      The statistics for this one weren’t pretty. Defenseman Jamie Drysdale was a minus-6. His partner, Nick Seeler, was a minus-5.

      Travis Sanheim spoke in hushed tones in the post-game locker room.

      “We just couldn’t play in our D-zone,” he said. “They capitalized on a lot of their chances. We just weren’t good enough. Hard to take any positives out of that one. We were down 1-0 early and it seems like we’ve been chasing a lot lately.

      “We have to hope that scoring starts coming back somewhere. If you give up nine goals, you’re not going to win anyway. We have to focus on our D-zone. We can’t be giving up so many easy goals.”

      Added Sean Couturier: “We weren’t responsible defensively. They made us pay.”

      At times, the Flyers looked a little too overcommitted to getting the puck out of their own end.

      “Maybe too aggressive,” Couturier conceded. “Right now we’re struggling to score goals, finishing plays. Maybe we cheated a little bit. It cost us big time.”

      After a so-so first period, the Flyers totally fell apart in the second period at Bell Centre, giving up five goals.

      Montreal’s 20-year-old Juraj Slafkovsky paced the attack in this game with his first career hat trick. Goaltender Sam Montembeault had his shutout bid spoiled by Ryan Poehling early in the third period.

      After a fast start on the road this season, the Flyers have slipped of late.

      The Flyers have been giving up a number of goals early in games and Tuesday night it was more of the same.

      Montreal needed only 65 seconds to get on the scoreboard. Slafkovsky finished off a play started by Mike Matheson. Starting goaltender Sam Ersson couldn’t react in time to stop the shot.

      In the second period, it was Slafkovsky again, this time standing at the right post and converting a pass from Nick Suzuki at 8:43. Brendan Gallagher quickly scored at 10:46.

      Then Slafkovsky completed the three-goal feat with a breakaway goal at 11:22. That made it three goals in 3:39.

      But the Canadiens weren’t done with their second-period explosion. Josh Anderson pushed the score to 5-0 at 12:42 with a rush to the net.

      That was all for Ersson. In came Ivan Fedotov but the Canadiens kept right on going.

     At 15:27, Christian Dvorak scored to up the margin to 6-0.

     After Poehling scored, Dvorak and Gallagher each scored their second goals. Joel Farabee put home the Flyers’ second goal and Poehling scored again in the closing minutes. Joel Armia scored Montreal’s ninth goal.

      >Short shots

      The Flyers finish their road trip with a visit to Madison Square Garden on Thursday night to play the New York Rangers. . .Veteran defensemen Marc Staal and Erik Johnson returned to the lineup with rookies Adam Ginning and Ronnie Attard taking a seat.

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About Wayne Fish 2446 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.