Flyers' rally falls short in loss to Coyotes
GLENDALE, Ariz. - Long breaks in the schedule don't agree with the Flyers. They were 3-0 on their eight-game road trip before the three-day holiday break interrupted their momentum, and they continued to look out of sync for huge chunks of Monday's 4-2 loss to the lowly Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena.
GLENDALE, Ariz. - Long breaks in the schedule don't agree with the Flyers.
They were 3-0 on their eight-game road trip before the three-day holiday break interrupted their momentum, and they continued to look out of sync for huge chunks of Monday's 4-2 loss to the lowly Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena.
The Flyers are 0-2 since returning from the break, having dropped a 4-1 decision in Nashville on Saturday. They play in Denver on Wednesday against Colorado.
Early last month, the Flyers had won three straight before having five days between games. They then won just one of their next 11 (1-8-2).
Antoine Vermette scored two goals - he was originally credited with a hat trick, but a goal was changed after the game - for the Coyotes, who entered the night with the NHL's 26th-worst defense, allowing 3.17 goals per game.
R.J. Umberger scored two goals in a 3-minute, 2-second span late in the game to cut the Coyotes' lead to 3-2.
Umberger converted a nice feed from Mark Streit with 7:49 left. Just as the Flyers' power play expired, Umberger then deflected Sean Couturier's shot past Devan Dubnyk with 4:47 to go.
The Flyers (14-16-6), their attack stagnant in the second period and the first 13 minutes of the third, continued to apply late pressure on Dubnyk, who stopped Luke Schenn form the right circle with 3:39 remaining. About a minute later, he denied Umberger's attempt at a hat trick.
With 50 seconds left, Dubnyk denied Vinny Lecavalier from the right circle after he took a cross-ice pass from Claude Giroux.
Vermette then iced the win with an empty-net goal with 28 seconds remaining.
Arizona (14-18-4), coming off a 2-1 shootout win over NHL-points leader Anaheim, won its third straight.
When he fell to the ice with back spasms during a Dec. 19 practice, Flyers goalie Steve Mason initially thought the injury might keep him sidelined for a long time.
But to the relief of Mason - and his teammates - he missed only four games, and he returned to action Monday.
"It was definitely a scary moment when he went down," rookie center Scott Laughton said before the game. "We're lucky to have him back. He's a huge part of our team, and he's definitely our backbone."
Mason didn't face many shots in a Flyers-dominated first period. The Flyers spent most of the 20 minutes in the Coyotes' end and held a 14-6 shots advantage.
And, somehow, they faced a 1-0 deficit.
With 1:34 left in the first, Shane Doan's shot from inside the blue line deflected off the stick of Flyers defenseman Nick Grossmann and into the net.
"I thought we got really down after the first goal," coach Craig Berube said. "We came out and turned the puck over too much in the second period."
Dubnyk, a backup goalie who had allowed just one goal in each of the previous two games, made several quality first-period saves, including two on Lecavalier from in close. Lecavalier, part of a fourth line that applied constant pressure in the first two periods, had five shots in the opening 20 minutes.
The Flyers had little zone time in the second period, failing to get a shot until there was 8:51 gone in the period.
"It seems to be a common theme throughout the whole season," Umberger said of the second periods.
The Coyotes increased the lead to 2-0 with 4:29 left in the second as Vermette scored on a rebound. Mason stopped Zbynek Michalek's shot, but lost sight of the puck and Vermette knocked it into an empty net.
Arizona, which held a 9-5 shots edge in the second period, was the fifth stop on the Flyers' season-long eight-game road trip, one that may shape their season.
"We've got to button down here and be more consistent. It's our biggest issue this year," general manager Ron Hextall said after the morning skate. "We're eight points out [of a playoff spot] because of our consistency. It's been a big issue. It's something that we as a group - and as an organization - have to get better at."
The Flyers began the night 12-1-1 when they scored four goals or more, and just 2-14-5 when they scored three goals or fewer.