PLAYING AGAINST the Rangers, easily the highest-scoring team in the NHL, is a little like driving on the Schuykill at rush hour. One little distraction can lead to all sorts of mayhem.
The Flyers dug themselves a hole after committing two glaring mistakes and ran out of time in a 3-2 loss to their high-flying rivals in a peppy Black Friday matinee.
"It's tough when you have to chase all game," said Jake Voracek, who led the Flyers with six shots on goal. "We have to get that first goal once in a while. It saves a lot of energy. It's still early in the season, but we've lost too many points because of that."
The Flyers struggled to get consistent forecheck pressure in the first two periods as New York built a 3-0 lead. Goals by Chris VandeVelde (off his skate) and Brayden Schenn with 2:04 remaining (and Steve Mason on the bench for an extra attacker) made for a wild finish.
The game ended with the Flyers whacking away on Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist's doorstep as the horn sounded.
The Flyers did not have a power play and, impressively, killed off the Rangers' only chance when Dale Weise got four minutes for high-sticking New York defenseman Nick Holden 17 seconds into the game.
Mason made 20 saves, but couldn't come up with an answer when Scott Laughton gave the puck away to J.T. Miller behind the Flyers' net in the first period.
Miller quickly fed Derek Stepan for the game's first goal. Matt Puempel, picked up off waivers from Ottawa on Monday, scored 94 seconds later in transition off a nice feed from Jimmy Vesey. Puempel, a 2011 first-round pick, did not score in 13 games for the Senators this season.
Kevin Hayes notched the Rangers' third goal when veteran defenseman Mark Streit sent an ill-advised pass up the middle from behind his net. The puck was intercepted by Holden, who fed it to Hayes for a nifty deflection.
Those kind of plays keep teams in sixth place.
"We made a couple costly mistakes where guys were left alone out front, and we have to clean those up because it cost us the game," Mason said. "It's definitely something we need to focus on a little bit."
The Flyers had their best period in the third, but lost defenseman Brandon Manning to an undisclosed injury midway through.
Exacerbating the mistakes made on defense is the lack of production the Flyers are getting out of their top stars.
Schenn's goal, which originally was credited to Shayne Gostisbehere, was only his second in 14 games. He has four goals in 19 games played, after posting a career-high 26 last season.
Giroux, who had an assist on Friday, had a wonderful chance to end his goalless streak, but was denied when Lundqvist slid across the crease to make a save with his face mask during the second period. Giroux is now at eight games without a goal, having last scored on Election Night right about the time Hillary Clinton was preparing her victory speech.
Voracek now has zero points in six games and one goal in his last 11. He also nearly had a goal, as Lundqvist made 40 saves.
"I feel like I'm shooting everything I can," Voracek said. "I have six shots every game, but no bounces. Sometimes it goes and sometimes it doesn't. I had a couple of redirects in front of the net, a couple good shots, Giroux had a couple good shots, and we just need to stay with it. I think we are experienced guys, and we know it's going to turn around for us."