Facing a goalie making his first NHL career start couldn’t help the Flyers end their skid Monday night.
They lost their seventh straight, dropping a 3-0 decision to the St. Louis Blues and rookie goalie Jordan Binnington, 25, who had struggled in two relief appearances this season.
Binnington had to make just 25 saves against a listless Flyers attack that has scored a total of seven goals over its last six games. They suffered their sixth shutout of their forgettable season and were booed off the Wells Fargo Center ice as the final buzzer sounded.
“No jam to our game. We were one and done every time we entered the zone and they were coming back at us,” said center Scott Laughton, whose team has scored one goal or none in 14 of its 42 games. “It’s tough right now. I think when you lose this many games in a row, it’s tough with our group’s confidence, but that’s no excuse. You have to go in and work. We have to be better.”
Former Flyer Brayden Schenn scored a second-period goal, and Vladimir Tarasenko made it 2-0 with a left-circle blast with nine minutes left in regulation. David Perron added an empty-net goal.
Goalie Carter Hart, playing in his seventh game, stopped 34 of 36 shots and was the Flyers’ best player, but he received no offensive support. The Flyers have manged a total of four goals in Hart’s last four starts.
“I’m definitely starting to feel more comfortable in the net,” Hart, 20, said.
The Flyers fell to 7-10-3 at home. No NHL team has fewer home wins.
And, so, yes, the boos aren’t unexpected by the players.
“I think the guys that have been on the team here should know,” right winger Wayne Simmonds said. “You don’t show up .... you don’t give it your best effort, you’re going to get booed in Philadelphia. Everyone knows that.”
Before he opposed his former team, Schenn said he looked at the Flyers’ talent and couldn’t understand their sad-sack record.
“It doesn’t make sense,” he said.
And then Schenn was shown, firsthand, one of the reasons the Flyers have struggled as he was left all alone to knock in a rebound 41 seconds into the second period. On a four-on-two rush, Hart stopped Jaden Schwartz’s drive, but an uncovered Schenn scored on the follow-up to give the Blues a 1-0 lead.
An inconsistent defense, goalie injuries, poor special-teams play for most of the season, and the regression of several young players have contributed mightily to the Flyers’ fade.
The Blues have also been an enigmatic team, getting shoddy goaltending this season and not nearly enough scoring from a lineup that, on paper, should be much better.
Binnington, who had an .840 save percentage in two relief appearances this season, wasn’t tested much.
“We didn’t shoot enough,” Simmonds said. “When it’s the goalie’s first start, you want to shoot on him and crash, crash, crash [the net] and put pressure on him and we didn’t do that.”
“It was not our best effort as far as execution,” interim coach Scott Gordon said. “We had a lot of guys who just didn’t seem to have it, especially handling the puck and making plays.”
Midway through the first period, Hart made perhaps the best save of his young career, sprawling to make a blocker stop on Schwartz’s point-blank attempt.
St. Louis, which started the night as the worst team in the Western Conference, dressed only 11 forwards, and it lost top-line left winger Alexander Steen to an unspecified injury midway through the first period. The Blues were also missing another key forward, injured center Tyler Bozak.
Fans booed loudly after the second period. The Flyers had been thoroughly outplayed as the Blues continually cycled the puck in the offensive end and held a 27-17 shots domination.
Hart was the only reason St. Louis’ lead was just 1-0 heading into the third period.