Flyers lose, 2-1, finish season just points short of playoff berth

Sean Couturier

      PHILADELPHIA – The team that refused to give up all season finally had to concede on Tuesday night.

      In the final game of the season, the Flyers needed a regulation-time win over Washington at the Wells Fargo Center to stay alive in the playoff chase.

      It didn’t happen.

      Tied 1-1 late in the third period, the Flyers pulled goaltender Samuel Ersson in an attempt to win the game before overtime. But the Caps’ T.J. Oshie scored into the open net with exactly three minutes to play for a 2-1 Capitals’ win at the Wells Fargo Center.

      Actually, it really didn’t matter since Detroit picked up a point (actually two) at Montreal just a minute before and that would have done in the Flyers anyway.

      The Red Wings rallied to score with three seconds left in their game vs. the Canadiens, then won it in overtime. But the Caps held the tiebreaker and they’re the ones going to the playoffs.

      The defeat means the Flyers will miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season, the second-longest drought in team history behind only a five-year dry spell in the early ’90s.

      After the game, several veteran players suggested the Flyers made progress this year but it was a little too early to really get into specifics.

      “From the start of the year I think everyone was counting us out,” Scott Laughton said. “Probably had that eight-game losing streak at the worst time of the year. We really couldn’t regain ground. That cost us.

      “We played pretty stingy hockey for most of the year. This one hurts though.”

      What might have hurt the most was the Flyers held onto a playoff spot for 124 straight days before an eight-game (0-6-2) winless streak did them in.

      “We were in the playoffs all year,” Laughton said. “You get out and it’s tough. It’s a tough pill to swallow.”

       A goal by veteran defenseman Erik Johnson at 12:29 of the second period pulled the Flyers even at 1-1.

      Johnson went to the net and was in position to tip in Egor Zamula’s point shot past goaltender Charlie Lindgren.

      The D-man has won a Stanley Cup with Colorado and believes the Flyers’ future looks bright.

      “It’s disappointing but I’ve got to give credit to the guys,” said Johnson, who came over from Buffalo in a trade deadline move. “I was only here since the deadline but the way they battled all season long, I think a lot of people were proved wrong. And maybe themselves, too. They should be really proud as a young group that no one gave a chance.

      “To be right there is a testament to the staff, the players and the leadership (management). It was a pleasure for me to be a part of it at the deadline. I think everyone can look in the mirror after game 82 and say they gave it their all.”

      That old Flyer nemesis Alex Ovechkin opened the scoring at 18:08 of the first period.

      Ovechkin stationed himself at the left post and was in position to tip in a point shot by defenseman Dylan McIlrath past Ersson.

      It was career goal No. 853 for Ovechkin and No. 49 against the Flyers in 74 alltime regular-season games.

      Even though the Flyers managed to tie the score, they could never stick their neck in front. It’s tough to play when you have to win or else, especially against a quality opponent like the Caps.

      “Nobody gave us a chance right up to game 82, so that’s a positive,” said Sean Couturier. “Right now, it’s tough. . .we were in position a couple weeks ago.”

      It’s especially tough for a veteran such as Couturier, 31, who’s been through the ups and downs here since 2011.

      “Yeah, it is tough,” he agreed. “I’m not getting any younger. I’ve been on some great teams and you think the core is going to be there forever. But it changes quick and you have to do it all over again.”

      Coach John Tortorella didn’t want to get into too much big picture stuff and said he would rather leave that for wrapping things up in the next couple days. But he did have praise for his team.

      “I’m proud of the team,” he said. “They fought to the end. We started off very tentative (in this game) but then I thought we got on the attack. I’m happy we got back on our toes. We didn’t get to the inside that much. Give them (the Caps) credit, they defended well.”

      >Short shots

      The Flyers will be heading to the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J. to pack up their belongings and participate in end-of-season exit interviews. General manager Daniel Briere and president of hockey operations Keith Jones also will be addressing the media to discuss the season over the next couple days. . .Among the scratches were Nick Deslauriers, Ronnie Attard, Marc Staal, Adam Ginning. . .The Flyers’ power play finished last in the NHL, hovering around 12.4 percent. . .Philadelphia thought it had the first goal of the game at 8:17 of the first period when Joel Farabee’s shot hit goaltender Charlie Lindgren, popped up in the air and wound up in the net. After review, it was ruled an official had lost sight of the puck and blew his whistle before the puck entered the net.

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About Wayne Fish 2437 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.