The month of February hasn’t been too kind to the Philadelphia Flyers. Entering Friday night’s tilt against the Montreal Canadiens, they’d lost nine of their last 12 outings and averaged just 2.41 goals per game over that span. At this point, their two-week surge of stellar play following the Christmas break seems like nothing but a distant memory.
Against the Habs — the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference — the Flyers’ inauspicious play continued with a 5-2 loss at Wells Fargo Center.
Owen Tippett and Ivan Provorov scored the Flyers’ only goals of the night. Tippett slung a rocket past Montreal netminder Jake Allen just nine seconds into the third period, but at that point it was too little too late. Frankly, this game felt lost before the third period even began. Provorov’s tally, scored with under two minutes remaining in the game, was nothing more than a stat padder.
“It just wasn’t our night. I don’t know,” said Tippett. “Sometimes coming off a long road trip with the time change, it can mess with you. But I think it’s just one of those things that we didn’t start off the way we wanted to, and it just wasn’t our night.”
The Flyers struggled mightily in the game’s first 20 minutes, being outshot 14-6 while allowing a pair of ugly goals that put them in an early 2-0 hole.
Late in the opening stanza, the Canadiens put together arguably their best shift of the night, hemming the Flyers in their own zone for well over a minute. When the Flyers finally managed to force the puck into the neutral zone, they attempted a line change that opened up the ice for David Savard to cut through the zone with ease and bury a Mike Hoffman centering feed.
Later, with just 3.7 seconds remaining in the period, new Habs forward Chris Tierney scored his first goal in his first game with his new team. Montreal’s Johnathan Kovacevic fired the puck deep into the Flyers’ zone, where Michael Pezzetta hit Tierney in the low slot with a falling, behind-the-net feed. Tierney was left completely uncovered on the doorstep.
Things didn’t get much better for the Flyers in the middle period. A little over seven minutes into the stanza, Ivan Provorov inadvertently redirected a Nick Suzuki pass intended for Josh Anderson past Hart to give the Habs a 3-0 lead.
Just a rough night for the Flyers on all fronts.
The Flyers are losing 3-0. pic.twitter.com/OZ6BoQ7IKN— Ryan Quigley (@ryanquigz) February 25, 2023
Tippett’s goal did seem to reinvigorate the Flyers early in the final period, but that surge of offense didn’t last long. Jesse Ylonen reclaimed the Habs’ three-goal lead just a few minutes later, and Josh Anderson piled it on soon after with another marker to make it a 5-1 game.
Carter Hart, who has arguably been the Flyers’ best player all season, did what he could with the lackluster defense iced in front of him. Hart only managed to stop 26 of the Canadiens’ 31 shots on net, but he’s not to blame for this stinker of a performance.
“I’m not gonna stand up here tonight and tell you that we got everything out of everybody. Most nights, as I’ve said right along, that hasn’t been a problem,” said head coach John Tortorella. “Tonight wasn’t a full group effort. I’ll put it to you that way.”
At the beginning of December, Flyers general manager expressed optimism that his club, which was five points out of a playoff spot at the time, had a legitimate shot at qualifying for the postseason. Fast forward seven weeks and the Flyers have lost 10 of 13 and are now eight points out of a playoff spot with the NHL trade deadline less than a week away.
If there were any fears that the Flyers might actually be buyers at the deadline, those can be put to rest.
Time to start selling.
The Flyers will trek up I-95 Saturday to finish off their back-to-back set with a tilt against the New Jersey Devils in Newark. They’ll then have three days off before returning home to take on the New York Rangers on Broad Street.