CALGARY, Alberta – It's become an all-too-familiar theme for Dave Hakstol's Flyers.
Play a very strong, physical and sound road game in all areas of defensive play. Outshoot your opponent, out-chance them and still lose.
This time it was 3-1 to the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome, as the Flyers began a crucial three-game Western Canada trip when they need points (see Instant Replay).
They left the points on the ice because their erratic power play abandoned them once again.
It was a 1-1 game in the opening period and then the Flyers got a gift from the hockey gods.
Alex Chaisson speared Nick Cousins in his left side near the bench long after a whistle and was ejected with a five-minute major. CSN Flyers analyst Al Morganti quipped that Cousins has been poked harder on Facebook.
Anyway, pathetic doesn't fully describe how brutal the Flyers looked on the ensuing power play. Plus, they had a five-on-three for a full two minutes.
"Yeah, we didn't score. I hit the post, Cousins had an open net," Mark Streit said. "We had a few good looks but it wasn't enough for a five-minute power play and five-on-three. A lot of times, it bites you in the ass and it did tonight."
The Flames iced the puck 11 times and the Flyers had one turnover and two shots from Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds during the entire five-on-three. Cousins had a final shot as the second power play ended.
"That's one pivotal point of the game where we could have pushed the game back our direction," Hakstol said. "We didn't win enough puck battles on our power play, which is a strength of ours. Tonight, we didn't win many of those on the five-minute or even on the five-on-three."
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True to form, the Flyers dominated with puck possession in the second period and had some decent scoring chances – two on another power play – but got nothing out of it.
Naturally, the Flames had one extended shift and made the most of it as they got a goal from T.J. Brodie above the circles. The puck probably hit someone given the bodies in front of Michal Neuvirth.
"They had net-front presence and got the puck through," said Andrew MacDonald, adding the puck never touched him. "Neuvy couldn't see it."
So instead of being ahead after two, the Flyers trailed, 2-1.
They ended up outshooting the Flames 34-23 and out-chancing them, as well.
"It's really frustrating because we played a really solid, sound game and generated some chances," MacDonald said. "Give their goalie (Brian Elliott) credit. Any time you have a five-on-three and don't score, most times it doesn't end up in your favor and that's how the game works out."
You can blindly pick just about any Flyers player on the roster and come up with one that is going through a goal drought. That's this team.
Cousins was one of them. No goals in 10 games. Nothing compared to Shayne Gostisbehere (none in 30 now), but Cousins has been chomping at the bit for a goal.
He got it, too, just 1:38 into play after Matt Read stripped Dennis Wideman of the puck in front of his own net.
Read didn't have a shot, but Cousins did and he gave him a splendid backhand feed for Cousins to bury it at the right post.
"Raffy (Michael Raffl) dumped the puck in and we got it in on the forecheck," Cousins said. "Their D sort of turned the puck over to Reader and he was alone there and went in on his backhand.
"I was fortunate enough to be sitting there in the blue crease and it came right to me. It was a big goal and a pretty good road period for us."
The lead was short lived as Calgary tied it on a faceoff. Dougie Hamilton drove the puck from the point where Mikael Backlund redirected it over to Matthew Tkachuk in the left slot before Neuvirth could react.
"I think we have to get our power play going here a little bit," Cousins said. "I think guys are getting a little angry at each other when we're not scoring and not setting it up, but they are doing a good job of killing. If we get that figured, out we'll be fine."