Mis­takes prove costly in loss

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Rob Par­ent rpar­ent@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Reluc­tan­tSE on Twit­ter

PHILADEL­PHIA >> Dave Hak­stol and his frus­trated Fly­ers have had lit­tle prob­lem shar­ing the blame for an­other dis­ap­point­ing sea­son start, if only be­cause it sim­ply doesn’t seem so bad.

Yet a 3-2 loss that quite lit­er­ally ended with a chaotic scram­ble in front of New York crease king Hen­rik Lundqvist Fri­day at Wells Fargo Cen­ter had to seem fairly fa­mil­iar, if not only be­cause it left them back on the wrong side of medi­ocre. For a team that thinks it’s play­ing well over­all, slip­ping to 9-10-3 af­ter a sec­ond straight loss seems like ... a mis­take.

“I think over­all, our ef­fort level was pretty good,” los­ing goalie Steve Mason said. “Just some bounces weren’t go­ing our way . ... But the ef­fort over­all was pretty solid.

“We made a cou­ple of costly mis­takes where guys were left alone in front. We have to clean those up be­cause it cost us a game. It’s cost us more than one game. So it’s def­i­nitely some­thing we need to fo­cus on a lit­tle bit.”

As part of the com­pi­la­tion of mis­takes on this day was a boo-boo more glar­ing than the next. It was a Scott Laughton give­away that took J.T. Miller and Derek Stepan a blink of an eye to turn into a game-turn­ing goal for the Rangers at 13 min­utes, 16 sec­onds of the first pe­riod.

It also sucked the mo­men­tum out of a start that saw the Fly­ers kill a four­minute high­stick­ing penalty Dale Weise earned all of 17 sec­onds into the game, then start fir­ing shots at will at Lundqvist. But as he’s wont to do, he turned them all away. Then the Laughton give­away would re­sult in Stepan’s goal, and only 1:34 later, an An­drew Mac­Don­ald pinch into the of­fen­sive zone would be turned quickly in tran­si­tion, and New York new­comer Matt Puem­pel would con­vert off a per­fect back­hand pass by Jimmy Ve­sey.

So a start that the Fly­ers would trum­pet later as a model for what they were try­ing to do only left them star­ing at a two-goal deficit later in the first pe­riod. Just as they think they’ve started the sea­son in a fairly com­pe­tent fash­ion, yet are still adrift in the non-play­off haze of the Eastern Con­fer­ence stand­ings.

“When you have to chase ba­si­cally all game, it is tough,” Jake Vo­racek said. “But I think we played a good game in Tampa (Wed­nes­day), we played a good game to­day ... we just have to get that first goal once in a while. It saves a lot of en­ergy. It is what it is. It’s still early in the sea­son but we’ve lost too many points be­cause of that.”

The Fly­ers of­ten can’t score first, but are al­ways the likely team to make the first, sec­ond and third mis­takes.

It was cer­tainly that way on this day, and mid­way through the sec­ond pe­riod an­other de­fen­sive mis­take off a tran­si­tion left the Rangers’ Kevin Hayes un­cov­ered, glid­ing up the slot to­ward Mason. Hayes cooly redi­rected de­fense­man Nick Holden’s pass past Mason ... and the Rangers had scored three times in their first 12 shots in a game that the Fly­ers could have been con­trol­ling.

Since they’re used to such things, though, the Fly­ers came out strong in the third and a Mac­Don­ald des­per­a­tion rush and back pass man­aged to hit the charg­ing Chris Van­deVelde’s skate and go past Lundqvist. One fa­vor­able re­play de­ci­sion later, the Fly­ers were on the board at 1:34 of the third.

The chase was fi­nally on ... again.

They would score again, but not un­til Hak­stol had pulled Mason for an ex­tra skater, do­ing so with just over three min­utes left in reg­u­la­tion. It worked, as a Shayne Gostis­be­here shot hit some­body’s stick — the NHL’s Toronto TV watch­ers were still hot on the case to de­ter­mine whose stick it hit and whose goal it was hours af­ter the game had ended — but it got by Lundqvist with 2:04 left to play.

The veteran goal­tender would re­ally be kept busy in those last cou­ple of min­utes, but de­spite a re­bound shot by Bray­den Schenn that al­most tied the game in the last sec­onds, Lundqvist and the Rangers would pre­vail.

And the Fly­ers? An­other less-than sat­is­fy­ing game, if only be­cause teams that have to spend most of their time mak­ing up for early mis­takes so of­ten winds up a step short at the fin­ish line.

“It’s been a while now,” Schenn said. “We chase a lot of hockey games.”

DERIK HAMIL­TON — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Rangers goalie Hen­rik Lundqvist, who stopped 40 of 42 shots, makes a save against Dale Weise (22) dur­ing the sec­ond pe­riod of Fri­day’s 3-2 win over the Fly­ers.

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