RALEIGH, N.C. _ Flyers coach Peter Laviolette conceded that his team seemed out of sync early in the game because captain Mike Richards was unable to play.
“That was tough. We had to go back and get the lineup sheet; it happened that quickly,” Laviolette said after the Flyers’ 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes Friday. “We had to go back and get it. We were juggling, and maybe that had something to do with the first five, 10 minutes.
“I’m not making excuses. We need to be better, but we were juggling a little bit.”
Richards was a late scratch because of flu-like symptoms, forcing Jody Shelley to scurry down from the press box and onto the bench.
Again, Nik Zherdev (15 goals) was available. Again, Laviolette declined to use him.
Carolina took advantage of the Flyers’ uneven start _ and gained momentum from a sellout crowd that was still jacked from the pregame salute to Rod Brind’Amour. The 'Canes scored two goals in the first 6:37.
To their credit, the Flyers overcame the 2-0 deficit, getting a shorthanded goal from Blair Betts and a game-tying goal by Braydon Coburn with 5:11 left.
Betts ended a 44-game goal drought, but he badly cut his hand in the second period and did not return in the final period.
The 'Canes won it when Erik Cole finished off a two-on-one with 3:03 left.
The Flyers had been interested in Cole before acquiring Kris Versteeg on Monday from Toronto. Cole, one of Laviolette's favorite former players, had 10 hits Friday.
“They came out in the first five or seven minutes, and they were physical right off the bat,” Laviolette said. “I thought after it was 2-0, we took a breath and got into the game and we started banging bodies ourselves. I like the way we played in the second period, and the third period we were able to tie it up. It was a tough break on the last one.
“But I would say, early on, they grabbed the energy of the building and the energy of the night.”
Besides scoring a shorthanded goal, Betts led a unit that killed a two-minute five-on-three Carolina power play.
“He was outstanding,” Laviolette said.
Betts injured his left ring finger while blocking a shot during that penalty kill; he did not know if he would play Sunday against the Rangers, his former team.
“That might be a quick turnaround, but who knows?” Betts said. “We’ll see how it feels (Saturday), I guess, and re-evaluate it.”
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Claude Giroux was minus-3.....JVR and Darroll Powe each had five hits.....Flyers won 62 percent of face-offs.....Versteeg was minus-1 in 12:16.
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