The Flyers are winless against the Hurricanes in three tries this season. (USA Today Images)
Long layoffs without skating are every hockey coach’s nightmare.
Flyers coach Craig Berube was worried about that coming into Wednesday’s postponed game against Carolina at the Wells Fargo Center.
Slumber early, thunder late, but not enough as the Hurricanes defeated the Flyers, 3-2.
Given the Flyers' two-day layoff, one could understand Berube’s concern whether his team would start sluggish. It was well-founded.
His his club went through 39 minutes of listless play before coming to life on Claude Giroux’s late goal as the middle period was ending after trailing, 2-0.
That momentum carried over to an early third-period power play that saw Scott Hartnell knock in a rebound off Wayne Simmonds' shot for a 2-2 tie.
Jiri Tlusty broke the tie at 13:30 of the final period on a rebound goal with a series of tragedies.
First, Braydon Coburn broke his stick and had to wait for Jakub Voracek to give him his. Then Kimmo Timonen fell in the crease on Andrej Sekera’s point shot that turned into Tlusty’s winning rebound.
Berube wanted sharp focus and feet moving in the first period, but neither was on display.
Carolina pinned the Flyers into their own end for nearly five minutes off the puck drop. Every time the Flyers would get across their blue line on a clear, the Hurricanes dumped it back in on them. Goalie Steve Mason had two good saves on Tuomo Tuutu during that troublesome start.
That didn’t come until 7:54 into play when Sean Couturier finally tested goalie Anton Khudobin.
That’s exactly what Alexander Semin did with the puck, coming into the Flyers zone in the opening period. Creeping closer and closer while using Andrej Meszaros as a screen, Semin uncorked a blinding wrist shot that went in the net and out before goalie Steve Mason knew what happened for a 1-0 lead at 11:57.
Berube also talked about cutting down on penalties that robbed the team of momentum. The Flyers had two in the final 4:29 of the first period.
The Flyers failed to use their size and muscle to dump the puck, get a good forecheck going and put some consecutive shots on net.
Their pretty plays off the rush resulted in turnovers or no shots in the second period. Best chance? A pass from Jakub Voracek to Kimmo Timonent for a one-timer in the high slot.
That would be Nathan Gerbe’s at 13:38 of the second period. Facing pressure, Luke Schenn had a puck go between his legs as Gerbe came up on him, then blew past him in fifth gear for a breakaway that left scorch marks on the chasing-in-futility Schenn. Gerbe finished the play with a between-the-legs shot on Mason, making it 2-0.
Trailing 2-0 late in the second period, the Flyers had a crucial power play but could manage only two shots.
As a deadly dull second period was winding down to the final 35 seconds, Claude Giroux got the puck along the goal line and tossed a backhander looking over his shoulder to the right offensive post. It beat Khudobin to give the building some life and give the Flyers some hope they were still in the game, despite themselves.
He has nine goals and 16 assists for 25 points in his last 19 games.
He kept the Flyers in the game early and late when Carolina upped the pressure meter. He had four saves on Tuomo and three each on several others before the final period was through, including Gerbe.
Flyers defensemen Erik Gustafsson and Hal Gill, and forward Jay Rosehill.