AFTER SCORING six goals on Tuesday against the New York Islanders in what looked like the coming-out party for the offense, the Flyers forgot to leave a few for the Ottawa Senators.
Last night they were stuffed, blocked and beaten, 2-0, in a lifeless affair at the Wachovia Center against a team they will be fighting in the standings over the next 5 months.
Nick Foligno broke the 0-0 tie with just 8 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in the game when he batted in his own rebound on a take to the net, lifting the Senators to just their third win in the last 10 games.
Before Foligno's goal, the Flyers were on pace for their first 0-0 game since they beat Calgary in a shootout on Dec. 6, 2005.
"We matched their intensity," Mike Richards said. "We definitely had some chances to score some goals. We have to score goals to win hockey games."
The Flyers - once the league's most potent offense - have been shutout three times in their last six games. It's the first time they've been scoreless three times in any six-game span since December 1968, 41 years ago.
It's not as if the Flyers didn't have enough chances to score.
The chances were plenty, starting just 8 minutes into the game with a two-man advantage. Chris Pronger, fresh out of the penalty box himself, had four shots blocked on that power-play alone.
Ottawa finished the first period with nine blocked attempts, eight more than the Flyers.
Scott Hartnell paced the Flyers in the second period, busting out on a breakaway before he was stuffed on the backhand by Brian Elliott.
With 15:31 remaining in the second period, Hartnell scored a goal that the referees disallowed for pushing Elliott - who was holding the puck - into the net. Matt Carle took a shot from Elliott's right side and Hartnell kept digging for the rebound.
Referee Stephane Auger - the same one who called Washington's 9-minute power play last Saturday - blew the play dead before Elliott was hammered into the back of the net.
The play was not reviewed in the NHL's war room in Toronto.
"From my vantage, it was in the net," Hartnell said. "Before I touched him, his goal skates were almost near the back of the net. I just was there pushing it. That wasn't the difference tonight."
Foligno's goal was the real difference. It didn't make a difference that Brian Boucher, making his third start in a row, stopped the first 23 shots he faced.
Just when it seemed as if the Flyers were out of the game, Matt Carkner boarded Richards with just 2:27 to play to give the Flyers new life on the power play.
Instead, the Flyers worked the puck around the carousel - on the periphery, a common thread in their past few scoreless games - and failed to get shots through the busy Ottawa sticks and skates.
"When you get that many blocked shots, I think you start thinking twice," Richards said. "You try to get a little too fancy. We have to be better at getting pucks to the net."
Unlike Tuesday's game, which was filled with tips and redirections in front of the net, the Flyers were looking for the perfect play.
"We need to get those greasy goals," Hartnell said. "It's not just going to be tic-tac-toe. We just couldn't get those pucks around the net. That's just not bearing down enough and getting to the hard areas.
"We have to get our nails dirty and get in there."
"We passed up a couple chances to go to the net," Pronger said. "They were blocking shots all night. We've got to find a way to get it through."
The Flyers pulled Boucher for the final 36 seconds of the power play and couldn't score with a six-on-four advantage.
After a blocked shot scooted to the neutral zone, Braydon Coburn's blind backhand pass in the neutral zone was an early Christmas present for Ottawa's Jesse Winchester, who was able to send it the rest of the way down the ice into the empty net.
Winchester's goal put the wrapping on an ugly game for the Flyers, who couldn't put a goal past a team that had been just 2-8 in it last 10 games.
Said Pronger: "It's disappointing. It [stinks]. We don't like to lose. It's getting pretty old."
Mike Richards was slow getting up after being boarded by Matt Carkner with just 2:27 to play, clutching his right hand as he skated to the bench.
Richards received X-rays after the game - which came back negative - but declined to say which area of his body was examined. Richards' wrist seemed to be crunched on the boards in the replays.
"We got the results, everything is good," Richards said. "There is some soreness, for sure, but everything was negative so that's good."
Four Flyers players failed to play more than 10 minutes, leaving some heavy lifting for the top-line players. Chris Pronger played nearly 29 minutes and both Mike Richards and Jeff Carter played more than 22 minutes . . . Eleven skaters were minus-1 last night.