By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
It may be March, but it sure feels like the Flyers are stuck on Groundhog Day. Tuesday's game against the Devils certainly was recognizable.
Stop if you've heard this before: the Flyers fell behind due to a lack of urgency and puck management, only to claw back to within one goal late before time ran out. It's happened at least three times this month now, with the latest installment coming in a 4-3 loss to the Devils.
It took just 30 seconds for the Flyers to be shorthanded in the game, setting the stage for a period that was spent largely in their own zone. The Devils did not score on the opening power play, but kept the pressure on through the opening 20 minutes.
It felt like a matter of time when Michael McLeod finished off a mini two-on-one that developed out of a Flyers defensive breakdown, cutting in on goal and hoisting a backhander over a sprawling Carter Hart.
Less than three minutes later, the Flyers were on a power play and cashed in. The puck shot back to Ivan Provorov with time and he got it over to an open Jake Voracek. Voracek walked in a bit then put it on goal. Joel Farabee was there to dig away at the rebound and jam it past Mackenzie Blackwood, tying the game at one with his 14th goal of the season.
Late in the period, the Flyers were back on the penalty kill as Travis Sanheim was whistled for holding. With just 5.6 seconds to play in the period, the Flyers couldn't gain control to clear and got scattered around the zone again, leaving plenty of room for Jesper Bratt to tee one up for Kyle Palmieri for the one-timer and the goal. That put the Devils ahead, 2-1, at the end of the first.
Shots through 20 minutes were 14-8 New Jersey.
Early in the second period, both teams traded power-play chances. While shorthanded, the Flyers had two glorious opportunities to tie the game. Sean Couturier hit the post on a two-on-one. Kevin Hayes missed the net on a breakaway.
Midway through the period, the Devils made the Flyers pay for those missed opportunities. A turnover by Phil Myers allowed the Devils to quickly center for Yegor Sharangovich, who fired one past Hart to make it 3-1 at 9:32.
Another power play for the Flyers was met with a lack of urgency, as the Devils continued to push and eventually struck again in the final minute of a period. Travis Zajac was left all alone at the front of the net for the easy tip-in to make it 4-1 with 23.4 seconds remaining.
Through two periods, the Devils had a 25-17 lead in shots.
For most of the third, the Devils were fine to continue to get the puck deep in the Flyers zone and defend the neutral zone.
At 11:37, the Flyers did get one of the goals back, as Couturier finished off a give-and-go with Travis Konecny to make it 4-2.
With Hart on the bench, the Flyers got another one back as Couturier scored again, making it 4-3 with 1:02 to play.
The Flyers got a few cracks at the puck at the side of the net in the immediate seconds after the goal, but couldn't gain control back to get a good look on goal, eventually icing the puck on an entry try with five seconds remaining. That essentially sealed things.
Hart made 28 saves in the loss. Blackwood made 30 saves in the win.
Sharangovich and Zajac each had a goal and an assist for the Devils. Ty Smith and Janne Kuokkanen had two assists. In addition to Couturier's two goals, James van Riemsdyk and Voracek each had two assists.
The Flyers are back on the ice on Thursday for the first of two home games against the New York Rangers.