For the second time this season, the Flyers kept up with the No. 1 team in the division, the Carolina Hurricanes.

But with multiple losing streaks and injuries between the first game, a 2-1 win on Nov. 12, and Monday’s, the Flyers were unable to complete a second upset and fell, 4-3, in overtime at the Wells Fargo Center. It was the Flyers’ fifth consecutive loss and 18th in the past 20 games.

Through the first 10 minutes, the Flyers kept the Hurricanes from registering a shot on goal. Helped by strong defensive play, the Flyers won the puck possession battle and outshot Carolina, 12-2, during a scoreless first period.

“That’s a real good team,” interim head coach Mike Yeo said. “I thought we did a lot of things that made it hard for them to get to their game. That’s a team that’s able to get to their game night after night. I thought we did a lot of things that made that real challenging for them, and then I think that we did some things, we started to do some things in the second period that made it easy for them to get to their game.”

Twenty-four seconds into the second period, the Hurricanes’ Nino Niederreiter scored on a weird bounce. The Flyers responded with their own weird bounce when Gerry Mayhew’s shot scored off an opponent’s stick to tie the game 59 seconds into the period.

While being outshot, 20-6, the Hurricanes’ seventh shot by Teuvo Teravainen sneaked around Flyers goalie Martin Jones for a 2-1 lead in the second.

In the third period, Isaac Ratcliffe and Patrick Brown finally capitalized on the fourth line’s aggressive play when Brown knocked in Ratcliffe’s shot attempt for a 2-2 tie. However, just like in past games, the Flyers lost steam at the end.

With seven minutes left, the Hurricanes’ Vincent Trocheck scored to give the Hurricanes the 3-2 lead. This time, the Flyers found a way to recover. Their second line and second defensive pairing went out and attacked the goal. Oskar Lindblom played physical in the crease and knocked in a puck to tie it at three.

But even with that final burst, the Flyers couldn’t finish and lost with 18 seconds left in overtime on Brett Pesce’s winning goal.

The long stretches where the Flyers competed showed that they have the capability of winning while missing key players to injuries. But the resulting L on the record shows the Flyers are fighting more than just a talent deficit — they’re fighting a mental and emotional battle as well.

“I feel like we’re at a little bit of a tipping point right now with that, to be honest with you, because of so much frustration that we are pushing and we are getting better,” Yeo said. “Certainly you don’t hope for results as a coach. You want to work and earn your results, but at the same time, results do help build the confidence in that game and reinforce those things.”

Playing heavy — 200 pounds heavy

At 6-foot-6, Isaac Ratcliffe is by far the tallest Flyer. But despite having two inches over the next tallest Flyer, Ratcliffe is nowhere close to the heaviest. The roster lists him at 20 pounds below Rasmus Ristolainen, the next tallest player. His 200 pounds ranks him No. 8 in weight.

At 22 years old, Ratcliffe is still growing and can continue to add weight, so one of the things Yeo has tried to emphasize is having Ratcliffe “play heavy.” Ratcliffe has taken his advice to heart and has approached each game with increasing aggression.

“At this level, with my size, I think I can create some space for myself, like I’ve talked about in the past,” Ratcliffe said. “I think in certain situations, it’s paying off. At times in the game when I do get away from using my size is when the game starts to slip away from me.”

Against the Hurricanes, Ratcliffe was noticeable for more than just his size. He was a big reason the Flyers’ defense looked so good during the first period. Ratcliffe knocked pucks away, won battles and laid hits on the opponent.

Ratcliffe brought the same intensity on offense and led the Flyers in shots on goal after the first. One of his attempts finally converted into points when he got the puck to Brown. The two had a team-leading five shots on goal through regulation. Ratcliffe was rewarded with time on the top line with Cam Atkinson and Claude Giroux, which he said was cool.

Ratcliffe was his own biggest critic, pointing out the shifts that he was off on. For Brown, who had his first chance to play with Ratcliffe, the young player’s performance was impressive.

“When you’ve got a guy that size that wants to hold onto the puck, it’s really hard to take the puck away from him,” Brown said. “So if he keeps doing that, he’s going to be a player for a long time.”

Aiming at Andersen

From the moment the puck dropped, the Flyers came out looking to score. They had seven shots on goal before the Hurricanes had one. At the end of the first, they had more than five times as many shots on goal (11-2). When counting blocked shots, they had 18, and their shots were more dangerous than the Hurricanes’.

But Hurricanes goalie Frederik Andersen held strong and only let in one goal through two periods. That single Flyers goal was the result of a lucky bounce. The Flyers had numerous other good chances, including a penalty kill they turned into a 2-on-1 rush, but they couldn’t get any past Andersen.

The Flyers kept up the volume despite so many bounces going against them. Their hard work finally paid off when Brown and Lindblom were finally able to take advantage of loose pucks in front of the goal. The Flyers finished with 41 shots on goal to the Hurricanes’ 31. Their final shot looked like the overtime winner, but then Andersen made what Lindblom called a “sick save” to keep overtime alive.

Brown’s back, baby

With his baby watching from the stands, Brown showed forty days away from the game didn’t make a difference.

After Brown returned to practice, he spoke of the frustration he’s had this season. The Flyers gave him a chance to play NHL hockey when they claimed him off waivers from the Vegas Golden Knights, but Brown has dealt with two injuries and a long COVID-19 quarantine since arriving.

“We’ve really missed him,” Yeo said. “Especially with a guy like Coots out, with Hayesy out, Brownie’s a guy that can take faceoffs for us, can kill penalties and understands the little things that are required to win hockey games. I thought, even though he’s been out for a long time, he added a lot to our group today.”

Brown came out fast Monday and maintained it through all 60 minutes. He helped the Flyers 5-on-5 defense look better than it has in months. He played on the penalty kill, which kept the Hurricanes from scoring on their lone power play. He also generated offense and scored the tying goal that pushed the game to overtime.

What’s next

The Flyers host the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday at 7 p.m.