Several Flyers streaks came to an end Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center, where they ran into a sizzling goaltender and lost to Arizona, 3-1.
The Flyers had won five in a row, had points in seven straight games (6-0-1), and had collected points in 11 consecutive home games (7-0-4).
Darcy Kuemper put an end to all of that. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound goalie made 28 saves to key the win, giving the Coyotes points in six of their last seven games (4-1-2).
The Flyers, who went 0-for-3 on their struggling power play, outshot Arizona, 29-18.
“We just went on a pretty good run, and we’ll move past this one and try to start another one,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “... You can’t overanalyze it just because we lost one.”
After scoring a combined 16 goals in their previous three games, the Flyers were blanked until Niskanen’s point drive deflected off Arizona’s Conor Garland and past Kuemper with 4 minutes, 43 seconds left in regulation. That cut the deficit to 2-1, but a cross-checking penalty on Kevin Hayes with 2:13 to go hurt the Flyers, and Phil Kessel (two goals) iced the win with an empty-netter with 63 seconds remaining.
It was just the Flyers’ second regulation loss at home all season. They are now 9-2-4 at the Wells Fargo Center.
“You can’t win them all. I think the effort was there,” right winger Jake Voracek said. “We have to win Saturday [against Ottawa]. Start a new streak.”
Garland scored on a rebound with 7:03 remaining, putting Arizona ahead, 2-0 lead. Brian Elliott had made a great stop on him earlier in the period.
The Flyers dominated the second period, outshooting Rick Tocchet’s Coyotes, 13-4, and creating several quality chances.
But Kuemper had all the answers, showing why he entered the night leading the NHL in goals-against average (1.97) and save percentage (.936) -- and keeping Arizona ahead, 1-0.
Among his second-period stops: saves on Travis Sanheim and Oskar Lindblom from the doorstep. Rookie center Morgan Frost, who is pointless in his last seven games, had the Flyers’ best two chances in the second but missed the net on both slot shots.
“I have to bear down and put those in the net, but it’s encouraging I’m getting those chances,” said Frost, who had six shot attempts but none on goal.
Two early penalties on Claude Giroux (slashing, tripping) threw the Flyers out of their rhythm – and helped Arizona strike first.
Just 21 seconds after Giroux’s first penalty, the Coyotes cashed in as Kessel tipped in Clayton Keller’s saucer pass to finish a two-on-one with 17:45 left in the opening period. Elliott got a piece of the shot, but not enough to keep it out of the net. It was just Kessel’s fifth goal in 30 games and second in his last 17 contests.
“I have to come up with a save there,” Elliott said.
Kessel had limped off the ice after blocking Justin Braun’s shot on his previous shift. The right winger was acquired in the offseason from the Penguins, and he will play in Pittsburgh on Friday.
The Flyers had just five shots and few scoring quality chances in the first period. Kuemper, the NHL’s best goalie in the first two months, made his best save when he denied Hayes’ backhander after he took a two-on-one pass from Scott Laughton while the Flyers were shorthanded with 12:31 to go in the first.
The Flyers finished with a 66-37 domination in shot attempts.
“I think we had a lot of chances. I don’t think this game was anything we need to to worry about,” rookie right winger Joel Farabee said. “I thought we actually played pretty well for a full 60 [minutes]. ... Credit to their goalie. He’s one of the hottest goalies in the league right now.”
“After winning so much, you expect to,” Elliott said. “It’s easy to get down on yourself after a loss, but I think we’ve got to take a lot of the positives and just move on. There’s going to be games you deserve to win and you don’t.”