Suddenly, the Flyers playoff hopes, which one week ago looked so likely, are on life support.
A similar start led to another insurmountable deficit for the Flyers, this time against the NHL's worst team. The Toronto Maple Leafs struck for two first-period goals. The Flyers managed a third-period rally, but fell on a power-play goal by Jake Gardiner in overtime, 4-3, on Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers now need wins in each of their last two games, or a lot of help from the Bruins or Red Wings, or their playoff chances are gone for good.
After the first, the Flyers were down two and shots were even at 11.
The Flyers returned for the second with energy and struck just 29 seconds into the period. Sean Couturier centered a pass for Brayden Schenn and he was there to tip it from the slot past Jonathan Bernier to make it a one-goal game.
Less than a minute after the goal, the Flyers got a four-minute power play on Tobias Lindberg's double-minor for high-sticking and thought they had converted. A chance by Claude Giroux was nullified and Jake Voracek threw a shot into the net that would have tied the game. But Giroux, who was slightly impeded on his way in, slid into Bernier and the goal was immediately waved off for incidental contact. The Flyers would challenge, but the call stood. The rest of the power play expired without a goal.
Midway through the period, a costly turnover by Wayne Simmonds sent Michael Grabner back the other way alone and he scored to make it a 3-1 game. That score would hold through two periods, as the Flyers continued to pepper the net with shots but could not cut into the lead.
Looking for something to breathe some life into Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers finally got on the board in the third with 11:27 to play. Andrew MacDonald ripped a shot through a screen to cut the lead to one with his first goal of the season.
With time winding down, the Flyers kept the pressure going and finally struck for a goal in the final minute. A point shot by Mark Streit was deflected by Simmonds for his 30th goal of the season.
But in overtime, MacDonald took an early tripping penalty and the Leafs made the Flyers pay. Gardiner buried a one-timer that sent the Flyers away with the loss.
Mason made 22 saves in the loss. Bernier was stellar, making 41 saves in the win.
By virtue of the Bruins 5-2 win over Detroit on Thursday, the Flyers dropped out of the playoff race with just two games to play, and trail both Boston and Detroit by a point.
The Flyers return to the ice for their final regular-season home game on Saturday when they face the red hot Pittsburgh Penguins. Game time is set for 3 p.m.
|TOR||William Nylander (6)||Martin Marincin, Colin Greening||5:28|
|TOR||Colin Greening (7)||William Nylander, Tobias Lindberg||15:03|
|PHI||Brayden Schenn (26)||Sam Gagner, Sean Couturier||0:29|
|TOR||Michael Grabner (9)||Unassisted||9:17|
|PHI||Andrew MacDonald (1)||Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Chris VandeVelde||8:33|
|PHI||Wayne Simmonds (30)||Mark Streit, Shayne Gostisbehere||19:02|
|TOR||Jake Gardiner (7) PP||P.A. Parenteau, William Nylander||2:51|
|TOR||Sam Carrick||2:00 Interference||16:44|
|TOR||Tobias Lindberg||4:00 High-Sticking||1:26|
|PHI||Jake Voracek||2:00 Hooking||12:04|
|TOR||Martin Marincin||2:00 High-Sticking||18:34|
|PHI||Andrew MacDonald||2:00 Tripping||1:35|
Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.