ST. LOUIS - Dave Hakstol was not a happy camper. For good reason.
His turnover-plagued team was outcompeted and got outmuscled in front of the net as the Flyers watched a 3-2 third-period lead turn into a 6-3 loss in St. Louis on Wednesday night.
This is not how the Flyers' intense, second-year coach expected the post-Christmas portion of the schedule to start.
"We just wanted too easy of a night," said Hakstol, whose team will try to rebound Friday night against San Jose (22-12-1), another big-bodied team. "We wanted to play too easy of a game. We have to be better, and we'll address that. We're not going into easy places to play here the rest of this road trip. We'll sort it out and get back to work, and that's the bottom line."
Since reeling off 10 straight wins, the Flyers (20-13-4) have just one victory in their last five games (1-3-1) and heading into Thursday's action, their lead over Tampa Bay had dwindled to five points.
With a little more than half a season remaining, the Flyers hold the Eastern Conference's final wild-card spot.
The Flyers' inability to clear bodies in front was the turning point Wednesday as St. Louis took the lead for good when David Perron and Scottie Upshall scored on deflections 80 seconds apart in the third period, putting the Blues ahead, 4-3.
Steve Mason, who made his 19th start in the last 21 games, allowed five goals on 24 shots. He has surrendered seven goals on 32 shots over his last four periods.
"We put ourselves in a good situation coming into the third and we kind of blew it," defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. "We win 10 in a row - good for you, a pat on our backs - but we have to get going. You can't just be relaxed out there. This team has a lot more [to give] than that. We left Mase hung out to dry."
"It's a team game; he had traffic on every goal," Hakstol said. "But just like the rest of us, everyone has to be a little bit better."
Added Hakstol: "You take a one-goal lead on the road in the third period, you'd like to find a way to be a little harder to play against defensively."
For that reason, don't be surprised if defenseman Brandon Manning, who plays with a physical edge, returns to the lineup in San Jose.
"Overall, we have to do a better job of taking time and space away," Mason said. "We have to be a lot better. We have some tough games in the next couple of days, and if we get the same type of play, we're going to end up on the losing end again."
After facing San Jose, the Flyers play in Anaheim on Sunday.
Rookie Anthony Stolarz (2-0, 1.84 goals-against average, .932 save percentage), whose time with the team figures to end soon when Michal Neuvirth returns from a knee injury, may get his third start in one of those games.
The Pacific Division-leading Sharks have won seven of their last eight games. . . . Sean Couturier, who had missed the previous 16 games with a knee injury, returned to the lineup Wednesday and played 18 minutes, 15 seconds. He had no points and no shots while winning eight of 17 faceoffs. In addition to playing at even strength, Couturier was used on the power play and penalty kill. . . . The Flyers have allowed two power-play goals in each of the last two games. . . . Robby Fabbri's hat trick, which included an empty-net goal, was the first the Flyers had allowed since Carolina's Jeff Skinner did it on Dec. 15, 2015. It was just the 12th hat trick scored against the Flyers in the last nine-plus seasons.