The Flyers keep playing hard, but keep coming up short.
They have lost three straight games, all by one goal if you exclude empty-netters, and their playoff chances are hanging by a thread.
"We're playing for our season right now and we're in every game and just can't find a way to get the points," captain Claude Giroux said after the Flyers' latest deflating defeat, Monday's 5-3 loss to Columbus. "We're playing some good hockey, but at the end it's not good enough."
Special teams have killed the Flyers lately, making it more probable they will become the first team in NHL history to miss the playoffs during a season in which they had a 10-game winning streak.
In Monday's loss, they had an 11-minute, 4-second advantage in power-play time over Columbus. But somehow they were outshot in the game, 29-26, by a Blue Jackets team that was missing one of its best players, Nick Foligno.
The Flyers' power play went 1 for 8. There was too much passing and too much indecisiveness. When they had an open shot, they frequently hesitated, giving the Blue Jackets time to recover.
"It could have been a lot different story if we buckled down on the power play. We weren't good enough," said Brayden Schenn, whose team hosts Pittsburgh on Wednesday. "When you have that many chances you have to capitalize and we didn't do it."
By this time of the season, the power play should be crisp. Yet, the Flyers are 2 for 26 (7.7 percent) in their last six games. Their power play, coached by Joe Mullen, has grown predictable and seems out of sync.
"Obviously teams are adjusting and we have to do a better job of coming up with different plays," Schenn said. "We are a little bit stationary right now and we need a little more puck movement and player movement. Hopefully that will create some lanes for guys to shoot the puck, but it is something we obviously have to work at. It is frustrating."
In the meantime, the penalty kill, coached by Ian Laperriere, has been even worse. The Flyers have allowed seven power-play goals in 15 chances over the last five games. Overall, the PK has dropped to 23rd in the 30-team NHL, having killed just 79.5 percent.
Surprisingly, coach Dave Hakstol said he didn't plan any personnel changes on the penalty kill, such as inserting Giroux into the rotation.
The Flyers are losing too many penalty-kill faceoffs, and putting Giroux back on the penalty kill might help. Giroux has been used sparingly on the penalty kill all season as Hakstol has tried to keep him fresher in other situations.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare has won just 40.4 percent of his 198 shorthanded faceoffs, while Giroux has won 62.1 percent of his 28 shorthanded draws.
In four of the last six times the Flyers have allowed power-play goals, Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde have been on the ice.
The Flyers (31-29-8; 70 points) entered Tuesday six points out of a wild-card spot. At a corresponding point last season, they were 33-23-12 (78 points) and one point out of a playoff spot.
"Starting with me, we've got to do better," Hakstol said.
Breakaways. Former Flyers defenseman Mark Streit, now with the Penguins, was injured blocking a shot in the first period of Pittsburgh's 4-3 shootout loss Monday in Calgary and taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons. Streit, who had four points in his first five games with Pittsburgh, is questionable for Wednesday. . . . The Penguins are on a 5-0-1 run despite missing eight regulars, including four defensemen, because of injuries. . . . Pittsburgh entered Tuesday tied with Washington for the most points (95) in the NHL. . . . The Flyers are 0-2 against the Penguins this season and 1-5 vs. Pittsburgh in Hakstol's two-year tenure.