Yes, it’s November rather than March or April, so it might not seem like a big deal right now.
But, if the Flyers insist on giving away valuable points throughout the season like they did Thursday night in a 4-3 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils, they could be asking for trouble somewhere down the line.
“We felt we should have won that game,” said newcomer Max Talbot. “Twice in this game we had the lead and we lost it. Especially in the second period we were kind of sloppy.”
That’s when the Flyers were outshot 21-9, eventually adding up to a 39-23 disparity. Talbot’s third-period, penalty-shot goal was negated by a Matt Carle turnover. That gaffe led to David Clarkson’s tying goal, before longtime nemesis Patrik Elias beat Sergei Bobrovsky for the game-winner in the shootout.
Still, the Flyers managed to stay even on the scoreboard thanks to rookie Zac Rinaldo’s first NHL goal, followed by Claude Giroux’s eighth, courtesy of a spectacular rush by Jaromir Jagr. The future Hall of Famer mesmerized the defense and left Giroux unguarded at the net.
But Zach Parise’s bank-handed swipe got past Bobrovsky less than a minute later, then an Andres Lilja turnover led to Adam Henrique’s first NHL goal to tie it.
“It’s very disappointing,” said Danny Briere, returning to the lineup from an upper body injury which sidelined him the past two games. “They were playing catch up hockey on us all night. I don’t think our intensity was quite there. The turnovers kind of cost us, huge turnovers in our zone.”
Eventually, after Talbot’s penalty shot — the 18th successful one in Flyers’ history — and Clarkson’s equalizer, then an uneventful overtime, it came down to the shootout. Peter Laviolette opted to use Wayne Simmonds, followed by Briere — the only one to beat Johan Hedberg — and Giroux. That left the potentially-lethal Jagr and Talbot, who had just scored in that identical scenario on the penalty shot minutes earlier, watching from the bench.
After Parise scored for New Jersey, then Bobrovsky stacked his pads against Russian countryman Ilya Kovalchuk, it was left to Patrick Elias to inflict the fatal blow — and the notorious Flyers killer didn’t disappoint.
The defeat lowered Philadelphia’s career shootout mark to a sorry 22-42. While getting three out of four points in back-to-back games is usually a good sign, the Flyers left the building knowing they should have had them all.
And also knowing that if they don’t do a better job taking care of business, especially in their own end, those lost points may eventually come back to bite them. In March or April.