STATELINE, Nev. — The league’s advocates will call this weekend a success despite the hiccups. The cynics will call this a mistake on the lake. Two games in two days on a makeshift rink was asking for trouble.
The Flyers will call it a wasted trip.
Carter Hart’s struggles against the Bruins continued, as Boston scored three goals in a second-period burst that turned a competitive game into a rout and a 7-3 Flyers loss.
Boston has won all five meetings against the Flyers this season, including two blowouts where Hart gave up six goals in each game. He’s 0-2-2 against the Bruins with a 5.32 goals-against average. His GAA against everyone else is 2.73, still a little high.
Hart’s aggravation didn’t end with the final buzzer. The NHL’s postgame media sessions included Alain Vigneault, Hart, and Sean Couturier standing outside separately in the freezing cold as winds whipped off Lake Tahoe. It was cold, folks.
Vigneault and Couturier gave their assessments of the loss, but there was a technical glitch and the audio for Hart was not working. The goalie took two questions and hung in there with answers that no one could hear.
Rightfully agitated, he handed the defective microphone to an assistant and walked off.
The Flyers are 0-3-2 against Boston, 8-1-1 against everyone else. They were outscored 4-0 in the middle period; outshot, 15-3.
“A couple shifts got away from us,” Vigneault said understatedly. “And they’re such a strong team that they could capitalize on their opportunities and then did. They were able to, obviously, put four by us.”
David Pastrnak scored in the first minute in each of the first two periods, morale-breaking goals that kept the Flyers skating uphill, and added a late third-period goal. Pastrnak has six goals in three games against Philadelphia — two hat tricks. Consider that only three Flyers have as many as six goals all season.
“They got on top of us,” Couturier said. “We weren’t too responsible defensively. They’re a good team. They make you pay when they get chances.”
Boston’s seven goals were a record in the 32 outdoor games held by the NHL since 2003.
Couturier, Joel Farabee, and James van Riemsdyk scored for the Flyers. Farabee’s goal was his eighth of the season, matching his rookie total from last season in 52 games.
Van Riemsdyk, who set a record by playing in his seventh outdoor game, also picked up his 500th career assist on Farabee’s first-period goal. He had three points on the night, and his teams are now 3-4 playing outside.
The Flyers’ disappointment in losing their second consecutive game should be assuaged by the fact that most of their best forwards were back in the Philadelphia area on COVID-19 protocol.
It was just one of the hurdles the team faced in coming 2,600 miles to play the division leader and last year’s only 100-point team.
In addition to missing forwards Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, Oskar Lindblom, and Jake Voracek, plus defenseman Justin Braun, neither the Flyers nor Bruins were able to practice on the ice at Lakewood Tahoe Resort ahead of a game whose start time kept moving.
Originally slated to begin at 12 p.m. Pacific, the puck dropped just before 5 p.m. local time.
The Bruins, who were missing five key players, had the same problems, so throw any excuses into the lake.
As Couturier said several times, “It was the same thing for both teams.”
Brian Elliott came in to finish the game after Hart was yanked after the second period.
Vigneault considered taking Hart out after Boston’s third goal of the second period made it 5-2, but a careless roughing penalty by Andy Andreoff as the Bruins celebrated immediately gave Boston a man advantage.
“I thought it would have been real challenging to put him in that situation with us being shorthanded right away with their power play,” Vigneault said, “so I decided to keep Carter in and I felt I couldn’t put Brian in that situation.”
It took 66 seconds for Nick Ritchie to put Boston’s sixth goal past Hart. The Bruins are 8-for-16 on the power-play in five games against the Flyers this season.
”They’re going to be tough to beat and that’s what’s happened to us,” Vigneault said of the Bruins. “We’ve had some good moments; we just haven’t been able to sustain it for a full 60.”
There is something about coming out West that doesn’t agree with the Flyers, who went 2-9-1 in games on this side of the Mississippi last season. This season, they weren’t supposed to leave the Eastern time zone until the NHL decided to play some games in this resort town.
It was an attempt by the league to generate interest now that the NFL season has ended. (Wait, does the NFL season ever end?) Outdoor rink, beautiful scenery, hockey back to the way it was when these players were kids.
As far as the Flyers are concerned, they’d have been better off staying home.