BOSTON — Half of Boston's defensemen are sidelined with injuries, but the Flyers couldn't take advantage Thursday night at TD Garden.
Jaroslav Halak was the main reason.
The 33-year-old goalie, coming off a dismal season with the New York Islanders, continued his torrid start as the Bruins defeated the Flyers, 3-0.
Halak stopped 26 shots, and he was particularly effective in the game-turning second period.
The Flyers, blanked for the second time in the young season, have lost nine of the last 10 games (1-7-2) they have played in Boston. Overall, they slipped to 4-6 heading into Saturday's game against the visiting Islanders.
"We're not scoring when we have chances, and the next thing you know we're down a goal or two," center Sean Couturier said. "We have to try to be more opportunistic."
Once again, the Flyers were outplayed on special teams. They allowed another power-play goal, and they were 0-for-3 with an extra attacker.
In the last six games, the Flyers are 1-for-17 on the power play. Their penalty kill went into the night ranked 30th out of 31 teams.
"We need to bring more pucks to the net. … We're just not jumping on loose pucks and capitalizing on our chances," Couturier said. "Tonight we hit a crossbar. It's not like we're not trying to score here."
Ageless Zdeno Chara scored two goals, including an empty-netter, for the Bruins.
The Flyers held Boston's high-scoring top line without a goal, but they weren't able to generate much except for a second-period flurry.
"We're not getting a lot of chances," defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. "We're pretty much a perimeter team right now."
The Flyers had the better scoring chances in the second period, but it was the Bruins who struck first. And second.
Chara, the tallest player to ever play in the NHL, scored on a 50-foot blast with seven minutes left in the second to put the Bruins ahead, 1-0. The 6-foot-9 Chara whipped a shot that appeared to deflect off a Flyer and past goalie Brian Elliott's glove after a sequence that started with an Andrew MacDonald turnover.
The Flyers have allowed the first goal in nine of the first 10 games.
Just 4:28 later, Boston took advantage of a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty, capitalizing on a slick passing play between David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. DeBrusk, who was left alone in front, tipped the puck past Elliott to make it 2-0 with 2:32 remaining in the second.
Midway through the second period, play opened up, and Halak made several saves on quality Flyers chances. Halak, who took a 1.74 goals-against average and .933 save percentage into the game, was the difference in the period.
Halak turned aside Claude Giroux's point-blank chance with about 11 minutes left in the second. A couple of minutes later, after Corban Knight set up Travis Sanheim nicely, Halak stopped the defenseman's slot shot.
With 8:30 to go in the second, Halak robbed Giroux after the left winger and Travis Konecny broke in on a two-on-one. (He also made a great glove save on Giroux with 7:56 left in regulation.)
The Flyers have struggled in the first periods, but they played a workmanlike (translation: boringly effective) opening 20 minutes that ended in a scoreless tie. Neither team had many quality chances, and each squandered a power play.
The Bruins (6-2-2; 4-0 at home) had the best scoring chance in the first when a loose puck took a fortuitous bounce to Chara, but Elliott turned aside the 41-year-old defenseman's point-blank shot with 8:30 left in the stanza.
Boston played without three injured defensemen who are regulars, including the gifted Charlie McAvoy, and they recalled 21-year-old Jeremy Lauzon, who made his NHL debut.
No matter. The Flyers couldn't take advantage and they suffered their third loss in the last four games.
"The league is so good now that you can play well and lose," Elliott said. "You have to play great to secure a win. That's why we can't get too down about this one. I thought we played a pretty solid game. We had puck control in their end and good movement."
"We have to stick together no matter what," Couturier said. "It's a long season and this is just the start. … It's not time to panic here; it's so early."
It is, but the points collected in October count as much as those recorded late in the season.