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Flyers drop eighth straight with ‘embarrassing’ 7-1 loss to Tampa Bay Lightning

The losing streak still hasn't ended for the Flyers.

Tampa Bay Lightning's Corey Perry (10) celebrates with Pat Maroon (14) and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (41) after scoring a goal against Philadelphia Flyers' Carter Hart (79) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Tampa Bay Lightning's Corey Perry (10) celebrates with Pat Maroon (14) and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (41) after scoring a goal against Philadelphia Flyers' Carter Hart (79) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)Read moreMatt Slocum / AP

In 2018, the Flyers lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in overtime, sending them into an eight-game losing spiral. On Nov. 18, 2021, the Flyers lost in a shootout to the Lightning, starting a skid that extended to eight games with the Flyers’ 7-1 loss on Sunday — also to the Lightning.

The Flyers started strong, dominating puck possession and creating chances through the first five minutes. Lightning goalie Brian Elliott held strong in the goal against his former teammates’ onslaught to keep the game scoreless and give Tampa Bay the chance to take the lead.

Almost nine minutes into the game, the Lightning’s Ryan McDonough opened the scoring by capitalizing on a mistake by the Flyers’ defense. Exactly one minute of game time later, the Flyers gave up a second goal, this one to Corey Perry. With that, the Flyers deflated.

The Lightning had an even stronger second period with three unanswered goals. The Flyers finally got a puck past Elliott in the final minutes of the second period, but the officials determined the puck had been high-sticked, disallowing the goal.

After the Lightning went up 6-0, the Flyers finally got on the board in the third while on the power play. Cam Atkinson’s tip-in ended a power-play scoring drought that lasted six games and 17 power plays.

The Flyers fell to 8-10-4, extending their losing streak to eight. It is the longest skid since the 2018-19 season as well as the longest since Alain Vigneault became head coach.

Struck by Lightning

The Flyers’ losing streak to the Lightning is longer than their losing streak this season. They dropped all three games of the series against the defending Stanley Cup champions and are now 0-6-4 in the last 10 meetings. The last time they beat the Lightning was Dec. 29, 2017.

The Flyers’ closest shot to beat the Lightning this season came in the first game of the series, the Nov. 18 shootout loss that Flyers captain Claude Giroux had sent to overtime by scoring with 8 seconds left in regulation.

The Lightning went into Sunday’s game recovering from an overtime win over the Boston Bruins the night before. They had their backup goalie (Elliott) in net. Even though the Flyers started with more energy, they weren’t able to capitalize on the situation.

The Flyers are aware of how bad they played and how bad their losing streak is. Giroux called the game “embarrassing” — but he also said hope is not gone.

“Personally, I’ve been on a team here, we lost 10 in a row and made the playoffs,” Giroux said. “So I know it’s maybe weird to say, but we do have confidence in each other. We know we can be a dangerous team. We know we can win some hockey games. It’s just right now, we need to find our swagger.”

Cheap chances

When the puck dropped, the Flyers came out with energy and fired off 10 shots in the first five minutes. They outshot the Lightning 14-9 in the first period, and 10-9 in the second period. However, they were down 5-0 by the end of two.

The zero on the scoreboard came from some things they couldn’t control, like unlucky bounces and an outstanding performance by Elliott (38 saves). However, the lack of confidence evident throughout this losing stretch was the Flyers’ biggest opponent.

“Most of the time, it looks like we’re trying to pass the puck in the net,” Atkinson said. “We need to shoot the puck.”

For as many shots as the Flyers had, they could have had a number more, but they kept trying to squeeze in an extra pass or move rather than make the simple play.

“We’re trying to be a little too cute,” Atkinson said. “We’re not in a position to try making those plays.”

They also hesitated to shoot, even just to get the puck toward the net for their teammates to rebound. As a result, they lost out on high-quality shot opportunities. James van Riemsdyk said the team is filled with a lot of guys who care deeply, and, because of that, the losing streak has “creeped in” and prevented them from playing with their instincts, “and that’s usually when you play your best.”

Hart out, Jones in

Unlike other games when Flyers goalie Carter Hart gave up a large number of goals, unlucky bounces didn’t play a huge part. The first goal was a tough stop to make. But on the second, Perry rebounded off the back wall and tucked it inside the post with Hart stranded too far out of his net. The third was a good shot on an odd-man rush, but Hart’s positioning could be questioned. On the fourth, he lost track of a rebound, and the Lightning once again tucked it into a wide-open net.

The fifth one was his worst mistake of the night. The Flyers were on the power play, and the Lightning cleared the puck. Hart came out of the net and tried to pass it to a teammate, but passed it to Mathieu Joseph instead. Joseph subsequently flipped it right into the Hart-free net.

With that, Hart came off the ice and Martin Jones stepped into the goal. It’s the first time this season the Flyers have replaced their goalie during the game. This season, opponents have only scored more than four goals once when Hart started.

What’s next

The Flyers are right back in action Monday night at Wells Fargo Center at 7 against the Colorado Avalanche. “Sometimes when you have a game like this, when you lose 7-1, it’s good to get a game the next day and get a little fire into you and get going,” Giroux said. “So I expect us to answer tomorrow.”