All good things in life must come to an end. And in hockey things are no different.
The Flyers fell to the Hurricanes 4-1 on Thursday night, watching two streaks come to an end that have put them right in the thick of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference. With the loss came an end to their six-game winning streak, as well as to a streak of 12 consecutive games earning at least one point.
Justin Williams scored twice and added an assist as the Hurricanes ended a six-game losing streak of their own to stop the bleeding and keep hopes of a late charge for a playoff spot alive.
Trailing 3-0 through 40 minutes, the Flyers just never seemed to get anything going and couldn’t use an early Travis Konecny third period goal to light the fire and fuel a comeback. The Flyers went 0-2 on the power play and were outshot 35-22 by the visitors. Advanced metrics weren’t kind either as the Flyers posted a 44.79% Corsi For in all situations and just 42.86% at 5-on-5.
Everything at hand tells that the Flyers well deserved the 4-1 loss at the hands of the Hurricanes, but they did get some help as the Bruins pummeled Pittsburgh in Boston. The Flyers are back in action on Saturday down in Tampa and then again on Sunday against the Panthers.
Travis Konecny got things going early with a chance just over a minute in off a Hurricanes turnover, but Cam Ward was able to bail out his defense early.
Back in the lineup, Taylor Leier was called for a high-sticking call 2:39 into the first, probably not what coach Dave Hakstol wanted to see from the young forward.
A scary moment came on the ensuing power play for the Flyers as Ivan Provorov took a Sebastian Aho slap shot to the knee, causing the defenseman to fall to the ice in a bunch of pain. But Provorov skated it off and returned to the bench.
Leier’s penalty would prove to be a costly one as the Hurricanes would strike first just after the power play expired with a Justin Williams tally to make it 1-0. The time of the goal was 4:40 and was assisted by Jaccob Slavin and Jeff Skinner. Petr Mrazek made the initial save on Jeff Skinner, but the puck dribbled through him and laid waiting for Williams to punch it home after he was met with little resistance from Brandon Manning.
Konecny later got behind the Canes defense, but then attempted a pass that found nobody. He redeemed himself with a nice backhand saucer pass to Sean Couturier that Ward was able to get a piece of.
The Flyers finally started to buzz with eight minutes left in the frame, peppering Cam Ward’s crease but finding many of their point shots blocked or sent wide. The Canes racked up five shot blocks through the first 15 minutes as the Flyers tried to force pucks through.
With five minutes left Claude Giroux sent a cross-crease pass to Sean Couturier but Ward somehow got his glove on the shot and kept it out to keep the Flyers off the board. Couturier is still in search of his 30th goal of the season, as he’s been stuck on 29 for five games.
Carolina pounced with a pair of good chances to take a two-goal lead late in the period, but Petr Mrazek turned aside Brett Pesce and Jeff Skinner on consecutive shots.
The first 20 minutes weren’t great by any means for the Flyers, and they were lucky to be down just 1-0 after a terribly slow start that was followed by a ton of buzz but a lack of finish at the net.
The Flyers get a golden chance to tie things up with an early power play after Jake Voracek was clipped with a high stick early 2:25 in. Despite a good chance in tight for Nolan Patrick the man-advantage would go by without an equalizer from the Orange and Black.
With Travis Konecny and Jeff Skinner off for matching minors at the 15:12 mark, the Hurricanes would take advantage of the open ice and make the Flyers’ hole deeper. Teuvo Teravainen, the hottest Hurricane going, potted his 17th of the season off a nice feed from Sebastian Aho at 14:21 to push the lead to 2-0. Teravainen beat Robert Hagg to the crease and finished off the Aho pass past Mrazek.
Through the first 30 minutes you wouldn’t know that it was the Canes riding a six-game losing and the Flyers coming in on a six-game winning streak.
With 8:18 left if the period it would be former Flyer Justin Williams again beating Mrazek. This time the veteran tipped home a Brett Pesce point shot to give Carolina a 3-0 stranglehold on the game. It’s Williams’ 12th of the season, assisted by Pesce and Jordan Staal.
The Flyers tried to respond quickly, but Cam Ward denied two chances on the doorstep from rookie Oskar Lindblom. Ward has always seemed to give the Flyers problems, and he wasn’t busy for the most part in the first two periods but kept a clean sheet nonetheless.
Armed with a three-goal lead, the Canes pushed for more late in the period for insurance, but Mrazek was up to the task to give the Flyers a puncher’s chance in the third. Mrazek denied Aho and Elias Lindholm in the final two minutes as the Flyers were heavily outshot (28-14) through two periods by the Canes.
The second period has been the Flyers’ best frame of the season, but the Hurricanes turned the tables on them in this one, scoring both goals to grab a commanding 3-0 lead headed to the third.
Just 1:20 into the third Travis Konecny would get the Flyers on the board, finishing off a two-on-one with Sean Couturier to pull the Flyers to within two at 3-1. Claude Giroux picked up the other assist on the goal, a quick tally was exactly what the Flyers needed to start on the comeback trail.
TEEKS SCORES! WE'RE WITHIN 2!— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) March 2, 2018
3-1 Canes. pic.twitter.com/tj8lS63se6
It’s the 650th point of Giroux’s career, tying him for sixth of the Flyers all-time scoring list with Tim Kerr.
At the other end perennial trade candidate Lee Stempniak setup Noah Hanifin with a chance for Carolina, but Mrazek sprawled out to deny the Canes defenseman and keep the Flyers within two.
Carolina would go shorthanded with 7:58 remaining, giving the Flyers a golden chance to pull within one. Noah Hanifin would go for holding as Scott Laughton outworked the defenseman along the wall.
Shayne Gostisbehere would get a couple pucks to the net, but Cam Ward stopped both point blasts rather calmly to start the power play. With 43 seconds left in the man-advantage, the Flyers used their timeout to try and give the first unit another crack at the Canes’ penalty kill.
The Flyers would never get set back up and watched the power play come and go, and then watch Carolina extend the lead to 4-1 on an ensuing rush. Sebastian Aho ripped a rolling puck past the glove side of Mrazek with 5:37 left to all but seal the deal for the Hurricanes in what was a must win game for them coming in on a six-game skid and fading fast in the playoff race.
That would be all she wrote as the Hurricanes would hold on to take this one by a 4-1 final. It’s the end of both the Flyers’ six-game winning streak and their run of 12-straight games with at least a point.