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Flyers rewind: Why no Sean Couturier goal? Score would have tied game

Confusion over reviews and questionable defensive pairings are among the takeaways.

Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim, bottom, and Ottawa Senators right winger Alexandre Burrows battle in front of goalie Michal Neuvirth during the third period Thursday night.
Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim, bottom, and Ottawa Senators right winger Alexandre Burrows battle in front of goalie Michal Neuvirth during the third period Thursday night.Read moreAdrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

OTTAWA, Ontario — Five observations from the Flyers' defeat Thursday night:

NHL logic

If the logic used in disputed goals often confuses you, well, you're in good company. With a failed offsides appeal that exploded on him in Nashville like a trick cigar to last night's double whammy of dubious call-backs of apparent Flyers goals, it's clear the hockey gods owe coach Dave Hakstol a few over the next couple of months.

Sean Couturier's apparent tying goal in the final minute was not reviewable because referee Steve Kozari said he lost sight of the puck and intended to blow the play dead.

Which begs the question: Why a review?

Answer: Because the situation room in Toronto initiated it. And when Kozari told the review officials of his intent, they withdrew the review.

The more egregious review decision seemed to be the goalie-interference call on Jordan Weal halfway through the period after Brandon Manning's point shot had trickled past Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson. Anderson made contact first, Weal was skating across the crease, and it was ruled a goal on the ice.

Surprisingly, Hakstol was not as bothered nearly as much by that call. "Those are judgment calls,'' he said. "I don't get involved in second-guessing them or anything like that. I thought it was a goal. But they have to make that call when they watch it. The last one, though, I've watched the puck go over the line 100 percent. I don't know how that's missed.''

Hakstol also said he was given no explanation, which if true, seems to be another flaw in the system. The press box was eventually informed why. The coach surely should have been told, too.

Kicked out

Radko Gudas was in animated discussion with Flyers general manager Ron Hextall after the game. He was ejected after a crushing check on Chris Wideman that preceded the Flyers' frenzied finish. The check sounded like a cannon shot and left Wideman on all fours for a while, but it did not appear to warrant the major penalty, or the ejection. Or a suspension. If not for the noise it made and how it left Wideman, it might not even have been called a penalty.

Breaking through

Lost in the frenzy was Jake Voracek's first goal of the season. That came after he banged a puck off Ottawa defenseman Dion Phaneuf from behind the net in the second period. Voracek leads the team in points with 14, ahead of Shayne Gostisbehere (1-11-12) and Sean Couturier (7-5-12). All three are among the league's top 15 in scoring.

Even without the dead-play goal, Couturier had his second three-point game of the season and seventh of his career. His seven goals are already half of his total from all of last season. His career high is 15, in 2014-15.

Special teams kill

The Flyers are 0 for 8 on the power play over the last two games and have allowed two goals on their last seven penalty kills. The Flyers had 70 total shot attempts, and 40 found the net. They have outshot their last two opponents, 73-53. A reflection of chasing the game in both.

Chasing … their tails

When the other team's first shot of the game goes over your goalie's shoulder on what appeared to be simply a keep-in, focusing on defense pairings as the root of all evil seems odd. But the one constant of the last two ugly losses is how disjointed all three pairings look, and how often they play as if just introduced.

You had to feel for Travis Sanheim on Ottawa's third goal last night. In a comedy of errors, no fewer than four Flyers were along the left boards during a feverish puck battle, including Sanheim's latest partner, Robert Hagg. When Ottawa emerged with the puck and moved it toward the slot, Sanheim found himself alone in the slot, choosing between evils.

Even the super pairing of  Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov produced mixed results. This must be what Flyers brass has meant when it touts the unseen positive influence of injured Andrew MacDonald. Because right now, it's a mess out there.