ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The drive to the Olympic break began in earnest Thursday night at Honda Center as the Flyers played a fiercely-competitive game against the Ducks yet still lost, 5-3.
It was the first of three games against the top three clubs in the Pacific Division.
This one had all elements you want -- physical, even chippy hockey, with skating, scoring and even a Gordie Howe Hat Trick from Ryan Getzlaf.
The Flyers didn’t help themselves, either.
Trailing 3-2 in the final period and working on the power play, they allowed their ninth shorthanded goal of this season at 12:26 to ruin any chance of tying the game after Kimmo Timonen turned the puck over.
The Ducks had two big goals in this one.
They scored in the final 35 seconds of the opening period to go into the dressing room ahead 2-1 and then added a goal in the second period.
The Flyers drew to within 3-2 in the third period off Matt Read’s deflection of a shot from Mark Streit.
Flyers coach Craig Berube talked about skating hard and his team did that, but the Ducks move rather quickly on the breakout thanks to defensive pairing of Hampus Lindholm and Francois Beauchemin. They were each plus-3 going into the third period.
Timonen’s pass was picked up by Saku Koivu for a two-on-one break that resulted in Daniel Winnik’s shorthanded goal. The Flyers and Edmonton lead the NHL with nine shorthanded goals allowed this season. Timonen was minus-3 in the game.
The Flyers meet the L.A. Kings in a rare Saturday afternoon game at Staples Center. This will be the first time Brayden Schenn has played against the Kings as a Flyer. It will also be the first time the Flyers have met the Kings with both Jeff Carter and Mike Richards in the lineup. Carter was still a Blue Jacket the last time these two clubs met.
It took 3:21 before Scott Hartnell put one on net for either team.The Flyers were moving their legs that first period but not generating shots.
Remember Patrick Maroon? A guy who quickly fell out of favor with the Flyers. He scored on a double deflection at 10:38 of the first period as Anaheim scored first in the game, even though the Flyers pretty much dominated the first half of the period.
The puck deflected first off Wayne Simmonds, taking a sharp righthand turn on goalie Steve Mason, before Maroon deflected it for his fifth goal this season.
It was only a matter of time before Zac Rinaldo lined up someone and delivered a big hit after sitting out 10 games with a sprained ankle. It was a clean hit, too, on Nick Bonino, who went off the ice immediately to the dressing room in the first period. Rinaldo actually drew two penalties that period while the Flyers scored a power-play goal on the first one. Bonino came back briefly in the second period, then left the game for good.
Erik Gustafsson split a couple of Ducks to somehow locate Vinny Lecavalier, who beat goalie Frederik Andersen from the right circle to tie the game at 1-1 on the power play. Lecavalier has two goals in his last four games.
Andersen’s mid-air grab of Lecavalier’s rebound in the paint during the Flyers' second power play.
Wow save II
Mason on Winnik in the third period.
Getzlaf’s deflection of Lindholm’s point shot in the final 35.1 seconds of the first period to regain the lead for Anaheim, 2-1. The Flyers have given up a goal in the final seconds of the first period twice in the last three games.
Getzlaf had a goal, an assist and a fight. Weird thing is, his only other fight was against Steve Downie in the season opener when the latter was with Colorado.
Downie has been waiting since mid-December to get his 100th NHL assist. He got it on the Lecavalier power-play goal.
Let ‘em play
Officials allowed both teams to settle things on the ice and have a go at it. The game was very chippy game -- the way most NHL clubs would prefer to play rather than go to the penalty box.
He had consecutive scoring chances in the second period. Mason swiped away one shot but was helpless to do anything on the next rush up ice with Perry and Getzlaf, who gave his right wing a perfect pass off an odd-man rush. Perry made it 3-1 with his 29th goal.
The Flyers were a disappointing 1 for 4 on the power play. Anaheim was 0 for 1.
Downie and Getzlaf fought to a draw in the second period. It was Downie’s first fight since suffering a concussion during a fight against Aaron Volpatti on Nov. 1.
Defensemen Hal Gill and Andrej Meszaros; forward Jay Rosehill. All were healthy.
The Flyers pulled Mason with three minutes left and Koivu scored.