The Philadelphia Flyers are now two games into the post-Chuck Fletcher era. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), the losses continue to pile up.
The Flyers fell to the Vegas Golden Knights at Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night by a score of 5-3, extending their losing streak to four games. They’ve now lost 12 of their last 14 outings.
Goaltender Carter Hart was unable to start against Vegas due to an illness. Filling in for him in the crease was Felix Sandstrom, who has repeatedly been left out to dry throughout the season. This time, though, he finally got something resembling goal support. He was just unable to stop enough of the Golden Knights’ scoring chances.
Sandstrom finished the night with 28 saves on 32 Vegas shots.
The Flyers fell behind early when Golden Knights youngster Pavel Dorofeyev, a day after scoring his first NHL goal off his visor Monday night, doubled his career goal total 8:34 into the first period. Dorofeyev gathered a puck lost in the skates of Ivan Provorov behind the Flyers net, cruised to the side of the goal and beat Sandstrom blocker side to break the ice.
Dorofeyev was one of 10 Golden Knights players to log a point in the tilt.
Down 4-1 after an easy tic-tac-toe goal by Jonathan Marchessault on a Vegas power play in the third period, the Flyers appeared to be dead in the water.
But then Nick Seeler happened.
Seeler, the Flyers’ 29-year-old third-pair defenseman, sparked a mini comeback in the final frame with what will likely go down as the goal of the year for the Flyers.
After recovering his own blocked shot along the half boards, Seeler danced his way through the Vegas zone, deking Shea Theodore and Brayden McNabb out of their skates before roofing the puck past Jonathan Quick for his fourth goal of the season.
“That’s a hell of a goal,” said head coach John Tortorella.
“That’s a 3-on-3 goal. We played a game, 3-on-3 (in practice), and Seels owned it the other day. I heard a couple players talk about it on the bench is the 3-on-3. Couldn’t happen to a better guy as far as what he’s done for this team this year. Gives us some juice and gets us at least competing to the end.”
Nick Seeler (!) may have just scored the goal of the year for the Flyers. Can't believe what I just saw. pic.twitter.com/OkpQIY0upx— Ryan Quigley (@ryanquigz) March 15, 2023
Seeler’s goal completely reinvigorated the Flyers. Less than two minutes after the highlight-reel tally, Frost scored his 13th marker of the season to make it a 4-3 game with 9:45 left to play.
For what it’s worth, Frost ranks third on the Flyers with 25 points since December 11. After a rough start to the season, the first-round pick from 2017 is really starting to heat up.
Soon after Frost’s goal, Owen Tippett came centimeters away from tying the game for the Flyers. Tippett raced past Chandler Stephenson on a zone entry and managed to get a puck past Quick, but it bounced off the post before being swept away out of desperation by Alec Martinez.
Owen Tippett nearly tied the game for the Flyers. Just a couple centimeters off. pic.twitter.com/Z3oyIedgrA— Ryan Quigley (@ryanquigz) March 15, 2023
The Flyers pulled Sandstrom as a last-ditch effort to even the score, but Ivan Barbashev scored the empty-netter for his second tally of the night, basically crushing any hopes of a comeback for the Orange & Black.
Despite the result, the Flyers’ effort late in the game was encouraging. The players certainly don’t seem to have packed it in on the season, even though hardly anyone would blame them if they did.
“We’re done. We’re not making the playoffs. But our guys continue to play hard,” said Tortorella.
“There haven’t been many nights in this season — in this godforsaken season — that I’ve had to worry about effort. I don’t think I will for the remainder. So I need to show them the respect and try to be with them and try to push them along, continue to teach, but in the proper way in what we’re going through right now.”
With this loss, the Flyers are now tied with the Arizona Coyotes as a bottom-five team in the NHL. The Montreal Canadiens leapfrogged the Flyers in the standings when they took down the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Steel City Tuesday night.
All of a sudden, the Flyers’ lottery odds aren’t looking too bad in a draft lauded for its high-end talent. And for much of the fan base, this loss actually serves as a pretty big win.
The Flyers will return to action Friday night for a tilt against the Buffalo Sabres. They’ll then head right back to Broad Street Saturday evening to take on the Carolina Hurricanes.