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The Flyers on Tuesday night stomached the type of loss that will sting until they play again Thursday. It might even sting the rest of the season.
After falling behind 3-0 during the first period and fighting like hell to tie things up with 1:32 left in regulation, the Flyers surrendered the game-winner 51 seconds later and fell to the Islanders, 5-3, at Barclays Center.
What makes the loss doubly demoralizing is that it came within the Metropolitan Division and the Flyers (31-19-7) missed out on an opportunity to take over third place from New York.
With 25 games remaining, the Flyers are clinging to the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot (see standings). The Hurricanes, who are currently playing the Stars, can jump the Flyers with a victory.
Right now, the Islanders (33-16-6) have two games in hand on the Flyers and lead them by three points. New York is the only team the Flyers have yet to beat in the division (0-2-1).
• The Flyers did nothing to help Brian Elliott in the first period, but the veteran goalie let them down on Ryan Pulock's goal with 41 seconds left. Although Pulock unleashed a nasty shot top shelf from the point, it's stoppable for Elliott.
The team's skaters expended so much energy coming back and New York capitalized over the final minute and a half to put the Flyers on their heels in the defensive zone.
The Islanders then iced the game with an empty-netter.
A point would have been so huge for the Flyers given how the game began. They left Brooklyn with no points and a punch to the gut.
• Sean Couturier scored the equalizer after the Flyers had two failed power plays in which the they came oh-so-close to knotting the score.
The way the Flyers scraped and clawed to dig out of the hole was commendable. The way the game was ripped right back away from them was crushing.
• The Flyers' first-period futility on the road reared its ugly head.
A night after the team's defensemen were sharp and steady, the blueliners had a world of troubles in the opening 20 minutes against New York.
The Islanders scored three goals. On the first by Josh Bailey, Matt Niskanen and Ivan Provorov were uncharacteristically poor in their own end. On the second by Matt Martin, Travis Sanheim had an untimely pinch with his defensive partner Philippe Myers already down in the offensive zone, which led to an odd-man rush the other way.
And on the third, Mathew Barzal made a sensational play to pick apart Niskanen and the Flyers, leading to Jordan Eberle's rebound opportunity.
The Flyers have allowed 44 first-period goals on the road, most in the NHL. The next worst are the Devils at 35. The starts to away games have been problematic all season and a big reason why the Flyers are 12-14-3 with a minus-25 goal differential outside of the Wells Fargo Center.
• In their defense, the Flyers never quit on games. They dominated the second period and received goals from Travis Konecny and Robert Hagg to make it a game. They actually controlled the third period, as well, until that final minute and a half.
Konecny is three points shy from setting a new career high with 50. Hagg has continued to play well. The status of Shayne Gostisbehere, who missed Monday's morning skate because he felt pain in his left knee, is uncertain. When he's fully healthy and up to speed, the Flyers will try to get him in the lineup, but the decisions are only getting tougher.
It wouldn't be overly surprising if Myers comes out of the lineup for Gostisbehere at some point.
• Joel Farabee was solid in his return from the flu, playing 15:38 and creating chances. He was his usual active self.
• Needing to bounce back, the Flyers fly to Florida Wednesday before taking on the Panthers again Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
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