Slow-starting Flyers fall to Calgary Flames, 3-1, despite strong outing from Brian Elliott
The Flyers were trying to get points in their first four games for the first time in eight years.
CALGARY, Alberta -- If the Flyers were playing home Tuesday night, coach Alain Vigneault might have been tempted to go up into the Wells Fargo Center’s new Rage Room and broken a few TVs after the opening period.
The Flyers played an awful first period, fell behind early, and were chasing the game all night.
They dropped a 3-1 decision to the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome, and Vigneault couldn’t pay $35 and take out his frustrations on an appliance or two.
The Flyers (2-1-1) have lost two straight, and they missed a chance to build some momentum heading into Wednesday’s game in Edmonton.
“There’s no doubt we didn’t come out the way we should have,” Vigneault said. The Flames "played a real simple north-south game, throwing pucks at the net.”
“We weren’t executing the way we’re capable of, especially in the first period,” said James van Riemsdyk, who played right wing on the top line with Claude Giroux and Kevin Hayes. “They do a good job putting pressure on with their forecheck and staying tight on the wingers.”
Vigneault scrambled three of his four lines, but the Flyers had little attack time.
“I wasn’t impressed by anything we did tonight,” he said, adding goalie Brian Elliott was the lone exception.
Van Riemsdyk led the Flyers with six shots -- many from point-blank range -- but Calgary goalie David Rittich stood tall.
“He certainly had my number,” van Riemsdyk said.
Trailing 2-1, van Riemsdyk was stopped in front with 29 seconds left. With 10.4 seconds to play, Elias Lindholm iced the win with an empty-net goal.
Defenseman Matt Niskanen’s first goal as a Flyer cut the Flames’ lead to 2-1 with 15:02 left in regulation.
With a delayed penalty called on Calgary, Niskanen jumped off the bench and scored from the slot after taking a slick feed from Travis Konecny. Calgary had been dominating the third period before that sequence.
Calgary finished with a 38-22 shots advantage.
The Flyers, trying to erase a 1-0 deficit, put on lots of offensive pressure early in the second period.
Oskar Lindblom was denied in close by Rittich 51 seconds into the second. About three minutes later, Rittich made two stops on van Riemsdyk at the doorstep.
But as the period progressed, the Flames took over. The Flyers had few scoring chances after their early second-period flurry and, like in the first period, they began icing the puck an interminable amount of times.
The Flames had a 13-6 shots domination in the second.
With 5:45 left in the second, after Calgary gained control following an icing-created faceoff, Andrew Mangiapane ripped a shot from the high slot that deflected off the stick of Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim and past Elliott. That gave the Flames a 2-0 lead and, with the Flyers’ offense sputtering, it seemed like a very comfortable margin.
There was one word to describe the Flyers’ first period: sloppy.
In what was their worst period of the young season, they continually iced the puck and had no continuity, went 0 for 3 on a disoriented power play, and gave away the puck at an alarming rate.
“We have to come out with a better effort right off the bat next game,” Elliott said.
“They pinched hard and their D were on our wingers,” center Sean Couturier said. “We could have maybe done a better job. I think overall, we came out flat.”
A weak clear by defenseman Justin Braun was intercepted by Michael Frolik, and he beat Elliott from the right circle to give the Flames a 1-0 lead after just 95 seconds. Frolik was playing in his 800th career game.
The Flames nearly made it 2-0 when Sean Monahan scored on a rebound with 5.8 seconds left in the first, but the video review showed he kicked in the puck, so the Flyers left the ice at the intermission happy to only be down a goal.
The Flyers entered the game with the NHL’s second-best power play, clicking at 40 percent. But they were 0 for 4 Tuesday and had a total of just four (mostly weak) shots.
This was the first of 17 back-to-back games for the Flyers this season, and Elliott got the call against one of his former teams. It was the first start of the season for the 34-year-old veteran.
Elliott, healthy after an injury-plagued season, was solid. He finished with 35 saves on 37 shots, including the goal that deflected off his teammate.
“If there is anything positive to take away from tonight’s game, I would say it was the play of our goaltender,” Vigneault said. “He gave us a chance to win.”
The Flyers were trying to start the season with a four-game point streak for the first time in eight years.
Calgary, which won both games against the Flyers in overtime last season, had other ideas.
Konecny, 22, became the fourth-youngest Flyer to open a season with a scoring streak of four or more games. ... South Jersey’s Johnny Gaudreau was held off the Calgary scoresheet and had three shots. ... Jake Voracek, dropped to the third line, had no shots in 15:43. ... After four games, Voracek, Giroux, and van Riemsdyk are goal-less.