There wasn’t much to like about Monday’s 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
For most of it, the Flyers were outworked, outhustled and simply outplayed. They failed to play tough in their own zone as they had in recent wins and didn’t look much like the team that so easily handled the Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues last week.
But there was the third period.
“We gave ourselves a chance to win that game in the third period,” winger Matt Read said. “But we didn’t play a very good first and second period, and when you play on your heels the first two periods, and you’re down 2-0 going into the third, it’s tough to come back on a good team like that. Playing 20 minutes isn’t going to win a hockey game.”
The Flyers did come close, though, to what would have been their 12th third-period comeback of the season. They scored two early goals to tie the game 2-2 and outshot the Kings 14-8 in the final 20 minutes. In the two periods that had preceded it, the Flyers put only 18 shots, total, on Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
As the clock ticked down toward zero, the Flyers realized their chances of continuing their winning streak were slipping away. The question is: Why did it take so long?
“Everyone’s desperation level got elevated,” Scott Hartnell said. “We were skating, we didn’t turn the puck over at all, we chipped pucks behind them, we got on the forecheck, shot the puck. But you do that for 20 minutes in this league, you’re not going to win.
“We were close there, but we just gave too much up.”
In Saturday’s win over the Blues, the Flyers managed to correct the issues that had plagued them in the first period in time for the start of the second. They weren’t able to do the same against the Kings.
Instead, it took until the second intermission for the frustrated Flyers to finally wake up.
“We knew we weren’t playing well, so we told each other to start picking it up a little bit,” Claude Giroux said. “Obviously the first shift we were able to get a goal, it kind of got us back in the game. When we tied it up I thought we were going to keep going. But they were able to get the game-winner.”
The Flyers prepare now for Wednesday’s game at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers -- a team against whom they know they have to play a complete game against.
With their loss and the Rangers’ 4-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes, the Flyers fell into third place in the Metropolitan Division, trailing the Rangers by a point. That makes Wednesday's game, which could easily be a precursor to a first-round playoff matchup, that much more important.
And what the Flyers did manage in the third period against the Kings they’ll hope to build off of when they arrive at the Garden.
“I think we were skating a lot better,” Vinny Lecavalier said. “We definitely raised our game to where it should be. It was night and day compared to the first and second. We came back, tied it up 2-2.
"Just got to make sure we learn from it and make sure we’re ready for the next game.”