ST. LOUIS – The Flyers’ Big Cigars – general manager Chuck Fletcher, club president Paul Holmgren, and chairman Dave Scott – watched Thursday’s game at the Enterprise Center and had to wonder what the heck they had assembled.
They watched the relentless St. Louis Blues, who should have been tired from playing the previous night in Chicago, score five goals before the game was 10 minutes old as they embarrassed the out-of-gas Flyers, 7-3.
“We weren’t ready,” said rookie left winger Oskar Lindblom, who scored his 16th goal. “We played poorly. We didn’t play like a team. You can’t play like that. That’s not our identity. That’s not the Flyers. I think we have to have more pride.”
“Pretty embarrassing,” left winger James van Riemsdyk said.
St. Louis (44-28-9) stayed in the race for the Central Division title, while the Flyers (37-36-8) looked as if they couldn’t get on the golf course fast enough. They have lost six of their last seven games in a strange season that mercifully will end Saturday night against visiting Carolina.
Since being eliminated from the playoffs, the Flyers are 0-3 and have been outscored, 16-5.
Veteran goalie Brian Elliott conceded that “when you’re not fighting for something, like the playoffs, it’s a lot tougher to get up for it. But it’s still our job to win hockey games. That’s why it’s disappointing how things unfolded tonight.”
“We’re all frustrated. We all wanted more, we all expected more,” interim coach Scott Gordon said. “Whatever the situation, it doesn’t change your responsibilities in how you have to play the game. It was just way too casual for us.”
Alexander Steen scored twice and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo had three assists for the Blues, who got three goals from their fourth line.
Elliott, facing his former team, could have sued for non-support.
“We left both our goalies alone,” Lindblom said of his team’s down-low coverage problems.
“Ultimately in these games, there’s a lot of things to play for,” van Riemsdyk said. “You have to play for your teammates. Guys are in different situations with their contract status and stuff like that, so there’s plenty of motivation to find. But certainly it’s pretty ugly when you leave your goalie out to dry. He’s been a great teammate for us and a great player for us, and we didn’t really give him a chance on any of those goals.”
In what may have been the final game of his solid two seasons with the Flyers, Elliott, a potential free agent this summer, allowed four goals on five shots in the first 6 minutes, 58 seconds and was replaced by rookie Carter Hart.
Elliott couldn’t be faulted for any of the goals because his teammates left the Blues open in front of the net as they got early tallies from Ivan Barbashev (batted pass out of midair), Ryan O’Reilly (deflection), Steen (shorthanded two-on-one goal), and Patrick Maroon (doorstep).
The Flyers, who fell into a 2-0 hole for the 31st time this season, faced a 4-1 deficit when Elliott was removed, and they cut it to 4-2 as van Riemsdyk (27th goal) batted his own rebound out of the air and past Jordan Binnington, who took a 1.85 goals-against average into the game, the lowest by a rookie since 1951.
Van Riemsdyk’s goal meant the teams had combined for six goals in the first 7:24, a feat that had been accomplished just twice in league history, according to NHL Stats. It happened in 1993 and in 1917, the latter played between Montreal and Toronto on Dec. 19, the first night of the NHL’s existence.
David Perron extended the lead to 5-2 when he scored the Blues’ second power-play goal of the night, whipping a right-circle shot that deflected off Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov with 10:19 to go in the first. That gave the Blues five goals on eight shots.
Five goals in less than half a period (9:41). Craig Berube’s Blues were on pace to score, oh, about 31 times. They set a franchise record for the fastest five goals to start a regular-season game in history.
The Flyers, meanwhile, set a dubious club record for the fastest five goals allowed at the start of a game.
Claude Giroux (22nd goal) brought the Flyers to within 5-3 as he beat Binnington (23-5-1) from the left circle with 42.4 seconds left in a wild first period.
After a double deflection on a shot, former Flyer Brayden Schenn (16th goal) picked up a loose puck at the side of the net and made it 6-3 with 6:54 to go in the second.
Both teams were missing key players who were sidelined by injuries: Flyers second-line center Nolan Patrick and Blues top-pair defenseman Colton Parayko.
Scott Laughton moved into Patrick’s spot and centered van Riemsdyk (two points) and Jake Voracek.
The Flyers finished with an 18-19-4 road record.