Flyers captain Claude Giroux seemed annoyed by the question.

The Flyers, trailing by a goal entering the third period Thursday in New Jersey, played a lifeless final 20 minutes.

Even though their playoff hopes were hanging by a thread, they had no pushback and didn't get a third-period shot until 8 minutes, 11 seconds remained in the game.

Had the Flyers quit, as it appeared to those who watched their eventual 6-2 loss to the Eastern Conference's worst team?

"I don't think we're giving up," Giroux said.

Told the Flyers had no shots for nearly the first 12 minutes of the third period, Giroux said, "It doesn't mean we're giving up. No one's going to give up here till the end of the season. I mean, we're going to keep working, keep working on our game.

"We know we're a better team; we know we can be in a better position."

Their position: They are six points out of a wild-card spot with 12 games remaining. They needed to climb past four teams to get into the playoffs.

The night before Thursday's loss at the sparsely filled Prudential Center, the Flyers defeated the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-0.

"We played the way we wanted to as a team," Giroux said of the victory over the road-weary Penguins, "and [Thursday] wasn't the case."

The Flyers, who will host Carolina on Sunday night, had done well in the back end of games played on consecutive nights. Prior to Thursday, they were an admirable 8-4-2 in such games.

But against a Devils team that had lost 10 straight and had a half dozen AHL call-ups in its lineup, they were thoroughly outplayed and missed a chance to inch to within four points of a wild-card spot.

"We didn't win enough of the battles, enough of the races," coach Dave Hakstol said. ". . . We're on the second night of back-to-backs, but at this time of the year, none of us are going to make excuses for that."

"We were flat, and I have no idea why," winger Jake Voracek said. "We were slow. . . . Things like that happen during the season, but it was a bad time for us."

The Flyers are 0-3 this season against the Devils and have been outscored, 14-3.

If the Flyers had won those three games, they would be tied for the final playoff spot.

Hakstol was asked why the Devils were such a bad matchup for his team.

"I haven't given much thought to that," he said after the game. "I'll get into that another time after the season when I have some time to think about it. Right now, I'm worried about this one tonight and the next one coming up."

The Flyers will play the Devils twice in their final 12 games.

Hakstol, who has three years remaining on a five-year contract, recently said he had to do a better job. He was asked if he thought his seat was getting warm because of the team's inconsistent play.

"No. I'm going to work to prepare and fight and battle every single night," he said. "That part of it doesn't even enter my mind. I'm worried about wins and losses and the performance of our team."

Breakaways. Steve Mason, who left Thursday's game with leg cramps, has recovered and will be available to play Sunday if Hakstol decides to use him, general manager Ron Hextall said. . . . The Flyers have a combined 35 shots in two one-sided losses at the Prudential Center this season.