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Flyers lose in shootout to the Ducks

The Flyers continue their California swing with a game against Anaheim, where they fall, 5-4, in a shootout.

Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn. (Kelvin Kuo/USA Today Sports)
Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn. (Kelvin Kuo/USA Today Sports)Read more

ANAHEIM - There is a scene in National Lampoon's "Vegas Vacation" where Clark Griswold was walking - fishing pole in tow - through a tour at the Hoover Dam when he began to get nervous.

He noticed water running down the side of the Dam, so he hurriedly plugged it with a piece of chewing gum.

Seconds later, another leak sprang through the concrete. He couldn't chew new pieces of gum fast enough to plug them all. A new one would appear just as quickly.

Those leaks - some new, some recurring - help define the Flyers and where they sit after 25 games. Wayne Simmonds played the heroic role of Clark Griswold on Wednesday night against the Ducks, corking a big spill with his game-tying goal with 2.6 seconds remaining in regulation.

The Flyers, of course, fell 5-4 in the shootout - the latest leak - but the team's ninth consecutive shootout loss (dating to Dec. 30, 2013) is actually the least of their problems right now. For once.

Sure, the dam could have broken on Wednesday night after Pat Maroon's go-ahead power play goal with five minutes to go. The Flyers could have easily rolled over, particularly after how badly their previous game ended 400 miles north in San Jose less than 24 hours earlier.

Instead, they won a point they probably shouldn't have - one night after losing one they definitely earned.

"It's better than none," Steve Mason said. "I'll give the guys credit for not giving up. They took it right to the last couple seconds. But it's still a loss."

Either way, the Flyers have lost six in a row (0-4-2) for the first time since the start of the 2008-09 season (0-3-3). They've dropped nine consecutive games on the road (0-7-2), dating back to Oct. 22.

In the larger view, Simmonds' last-second goal was just a temporary patch. It only masked the fact that the Flyers were 2.6 seconds away from allowing three unanswered goals to Anaheim after holding a 3-1 lead.

They weren't able to protect a two-goal edge that actually came from a few fortunate bounces, considering they were badly outplayed for much of the first two periods.

"I thought that we lost the point tonight," coach Craig Berube said. "We were up 3-1. We've got to shut the door there, we've got to play smarter hockey in that situation. I thought we let them back in the game just from defensive mistakes."

If the video didn't do it justice, take a look at the advanced stats. Through the first two periods of play, Anaheim held a better-than 2-to-1 advantage (35-16) in five-on-five shot attempts, which best indicate time of possession.

"In the first period, I thought we ran around in our own end a little bit," Berube said. "We got a little lost. But I thought we battled pretty hard and competed pretty hard in our own end. We gave up some odd-man rushes that caused some of those goals.

"Those odd-man rushes are caused from being too aggressive. I think that the guys are pressing. We've got to be smarter. It's one thing to be aggressive - you want to win, you want to get on people - but we've got to be smarter than that."

In other words, the Flyers took one step forward with their play in San Jose, and two steps backward in Orange County. Where the Flyers earned a point in one and not the other is irrelevant - the result was still one out of a possible four. No one said hockey is normal.

On Wednesday, when the Flyers' secondary scoring leak was finally plugged - with R.J. Umberger's first point in 17 games, Simmonds' first goals in 6 games, Michael Raffl's first goal in 9 games - their defensive zone became a floodgate for large portions of the game.

"Overall, there are obviously still some things that we need to clean up," Mason said.

Mason, starting the second night in a row, was so frustrated at a certain point that he shot the puck the length of the ice after giving up Anaheim's tying goal in the final minute of the second period. He was already the only reason the Flyers had a shot at a lead in the game.

More than a quarter of the way into the season, the Flyers seemed content offering the bait of a moral victory - which doesn't count in the standings. Only Carolina, Columbus and Edmonton are below them now.

"I think in moments like these, you've got to stick together as a team and find the positive things," Umberger said. "In San Jose, we played a good structured game and we deserved better. Tonight, we kept battling against a desperate team in this building, we found a way to get a point. It's not going to be pretty getting out of these type of things."

Slap shots

John Stevens was fired on this day exactly five years ago, replaced by Peter Laviolette on Dec. 4, 2009 … Anaheim scored on both shootout attempts for their second shootout win over the Flyers this season. Suffice to say, Steve Mason isn't a fan of the shootout: "You guys (media) know my thoughts on the shootout" … With an assist, Jake Voracek is now tied again with Sidney Crosby atop the NHL's scoring list … Craig Berube stuck with the same lineup, with Vinny Lecavalier and Michael Del Zotto scratched, for the second night in a row … After back-to-back games, the Flyers will have a complete day off today and regroup for practice tomorrow in Los Angeles.