In all three of their losses to the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Flyers were either tied or trailed by a goal heading into the third period and had a chance to win the game.
In all three games, they blew that chance.
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And in the only game they won in this series, a 4-3 overtime victory, they coughed up a late 3-1 lead.
All told, they have been outscored, 8-1, in the third period in the first four games of this series, which the Isles lead, three games to one, and can wrap up Tuesday night in Toronto.
Are the Islanders better conditioned? Hungrier? More talented? Better coached?
All of the above?
The Flyers don’t have the answers, and they are running out of time to find them.
“Those one or two little mistakes, they just end up in the back of the net. We have those same opportunities and they’re just not going in for us,” Travis Konecny, still looking for his first goal after 13 postseason games this summer, said in a Zoom call with reporters Monday, a day after the Isles won, 3-2, to seize control of the series. “We’re playing the right way. We’re playing hard. It’s just those one or two mistakes.”
Center Kevin Hayes said the Flyers were “shooting ourselves in the foot” with miscues. “Once we fix that, the results should start to change.”
The Islanders are a “pretty well-structured team and they don’t give up a whole lot,” said center Sean Couturier after scoring his second goal of the postseason Sunday. “They play the right way. It’s never easy playing against them, but like I said, we got some good looks and we just have to capitalize on our chances.”
The Islanders pulled away from a 1-1 third-period tie and took a 3-1 lead before Ivan Provorov scored with 65 seconds left and Brian Elliott pulled for an extra attacker.
“They stayed patient. They wait for opportunities,” Provorov said. “I think [Sunday] they just got lucky.”
Defenseman Matt Niskanen, Provorov’s defensive partner, got caught out of position on both of the Isles’ third-period goals.
“You have to have a short memory and believe in our group,” Niskanen said. “Get ready for the next one.”
Alain Vigneault would not say whether left winger Oskar Lindblom, trying to return after a long cancer battle, would be ready to play Tuesday. He took part in the pregame skate Sunday.
“I had chills watching him skate around the ice,” Hayes said. “I’m sure he was feeling pretty emotional as well. To see what’s he gone through on a day-to-day basis, and then seeing him every once in a while throughout the season, it’s incredible. To see where he’s at right now, it’s inspiring.”
Seeing Lindblom work hard to return “puts a lot of things in perspective for us,” Hayes said, adding that it “makes you want to work hard and give everything you have.”
By watching Lindblom “do everything he possibly can to come back as quick as he can to help his teammates, I’m saying what a great opportunity the other guys have in front of them,” Vigneault said. “Who knows? Maybe at some point Oskar will be ready to help us.”