PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Flyers had been riding high with wins over the Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, and St. Louis Blues all in a span of seven days. The momentum gained from those wins took a major blow on Thursday after a disappointing and sloppy home loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
Despite scoring the first goal, a fourth goal of the season for youngster Joel Farabee, Alain Vigneault’s side conceded four unanswered goals in a 4-1 defeat. It was the Flyers’ first since a 1-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on January 10, and one that will definitely leave a sour taste in the team’s mouth for the next day or so.
“We were definitely sloppy, there is no doubt,” Vigneault said. “First shift, we turned the puck over three times. But we found a way to score an important goal. One of the major turning points for me in tonight’s game is that goal we give up and the end of the first period. We should have gotten through that period with a 1-0 lead and then take a penalty early in the second, get a break away chance on Price, he makes the save. A couple minutes later, it is 3-1, and we are down by two. There is no doubt he is one of the best goaltenders in the league, so it was going to be an uphill battle. Just weren’t good enough tonight.”
The Flyers were indeed sloppy with the puck, despite forcing Carey Price into making 40 saves on the ninth. They had numerous chances on the power play and at even strength to get back into the game, but failed to do so. James van Riemsdyk was denied by Price eight times, Sean Couturier five, and Kevin Hayes four. Travis Konecny, the team’s leading goal-scorer, only recorded one shot on goal, but found time to always start a scrap with an opposing player.
Plain and simple, the Flyers had a major letdown performance at home. Alex Lyon made his season debut, giving Brian Elliott the night off, and did well in making 36 saves. Although Lyon will be blamed for allowing the four goals, the Flyers lacked the final product offensively despite scoring three goals against the defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues 24 hours prior. It is a result that the Flyers cannot get familiar with if they want to be a real threat in the Eastern Conference going forward.
“You know that word that starts with “b”? No. These are big games,” Vigneault said. “There is nothing separating teams. And tonight, it is a few plays. I understand emotionally, but points are the same. This game is worth two. Last game was worth two. You have to get up for it. You have to get yourself ready. It is going to be a battle. Tonight, it goes to show how one play can change the outcome. That play at the end of the first was a huge play, and we didn’t play it well and it ended up in the back of our net.
“I will say that there is a tremendous amount of parity in this league. So if you are a little bit off in one area, unless you are Washington or maybe St. Louis you can get by, and there are three or four teams. We are one of 20 some teams who need to be sharp in all areas. We need to have contribution from our whole group to have an opportunity to win a given game. That is how tight it is. When you have one part of your game that is off, you aren’t good enough. And tonight, we weren’t good enough.”
The lone bright spot on the night was Joel Farabee scoring his fourth goal of the season and first since early December. Originally scheduled to be with the Flyers’ AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Farabee was recalled after Chris Stewart was placed on waivers. The 19-year-old was happy to score in his return to the big time, but overall disappointed that the result didn’t go the team’s way.
“Obviously you want to help the team win. It’s been a while since I last scored, so that definitely felt good, but at the end of the day it doesn’t really mean much when you don’t win,” Farabee said. “We just got to regroup and come back with a better effort then we had tonight.”
“Yeah, I mean it’s tough, you play the top teams and you get so emotionally involved and then you come back and this is a big game, the fight and stuff like that it definitely takes a toll. We definitely had more to offer that game. Obviously some bounces didn’t go our way but at the end of the day we need a better effort.”
The Flyers remain in a three-way tie points wise in the Metropolitan Division with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes at 56 apiece. However, the room for error so far in 2020 is slim with the Pittsburgh Penguins rising up the ranks and the Washington Capitals remaining a legitimate title contender.
With only two games remaining before the All-Star Break, the goal for the Flyers will be to earn wins in both to end the first half of the season on a high note. The Los Angeles Kings (last in the Western Conference) come to town on Saturday, before rivals Pittsburgh visit Broad Street on January 21.