Goalie Brian Boucher played a strong game last night, but he needed to be perfect.
All because the Flyers' fading offense was lifeless in a 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators at the Wachovia Center.
After taking a shot from the left wing, Nick Foligno knocked his own rebound off Boucher's stick and into the net, ending a scoreless goaltenders' duel with 8 minutes, 29 seconds remaining.
Jesse Winchester added an empty-net goal - while the Senators were shorthanded - with 49.5 seconds left.
It was the Flyers' ninth loss in their last 11 games, and the third time they have been shut out in their last six. It marked the second time since 1968 that the Flyers were shut out three times in six or fewer games.
The loss hurt because Ottawa is one of the teams the Flyers are chasing in the Eastern Conference.
"Our big guys have to step up, myself included," said left winger Scott Hartnell, who was involved in a controversial call that negated an apparent goal that would have given the Flyers a 1-0 second-period lead.
Brian Elliott, who took a 3.01 goals-against average into the game, made 24 saves to notch his first shutout of the season and second of his career. Ottawa blocked 25 shots - seven by Chris Pronger - to aid Elliott.
"Against a team like that and obviously a young goalie, we have to get more pucks to the net," Pronger said. " . . . It's getting pretty old."
With 2:28 left, the Flyers got their seventh power play. No matter. They failed to score, and when they pulled Boucher and had a six-on-four, Winchester found the empty net.
The Flyers are 1-3 under new coach Peter Laviolette.
Sixteen scouts were at last night's game, creating a buzz that the Flyers could be in the market for a goalie (Atlanta's Johan Hedberg? The Islanders' Dwayne Roloson or Marty Biron?)
Then again, if Boucher continues his solid play, the Flyers may not need outside goalie help. Boucher made 23 saves, including a breakaway by Jason Spezza after less than four minutes.
Boucher will get the bulk of the work in the next six weeks because Ray Emery is sidelined by abdominal surgery.
"It's frustrating for the team right now," said Boucher, whose team was coming off a 6-2 win over the Islanders. "We need points . . .. We showed what we could do in the New York game and I think we have to remind ourselves of that and try to stay positive."
The Flyers failed to capitalize on a five-on-three power play that lasted 1:46 midway through the opening period. Yes, they desperately miss the injured Simon Gagne.
Early in the second period, while on a power play, Matt Carle redirected Mike Richards' cross, and Elliott appeared to carry the puck into the net as he made the save. But Stephane Auger, the referee who gave Washington a nine-minute power play after handing out 29 penalty minutes to Dan Carcillo on Saturday, waved off the goal.
Replays showed the puck had crossed the goal line with 15:31 left in the second period, but Auger ruled Hartnell hit the goalie late as he crashed the net - and caused the puck to go past the goal line.
Elliott said Hartnell knocked him and the puck into the net. Hartnell claimed the puck had crossed the line before he touched the goalie.
Ottawa, which dropped a 5-1 decision to the Flyers at the Wachovia Center on Nov. 12, entered the night with five losses in its last six games.
Richards was holding his left hand after the game, the result of a late-game collision. X-rays were negative.