Flyers' Hartnell: 'We just sat back'

Scott Hartnell (left) is hounded by Pittsburgh Penguins' Pascal Dupuis while bringing the puck out from behind the Flyers goal in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 7, 2013, in Philadelphia. The Penguins won 5-4. (Tom Mihalek/AP)

This is not a recording: The Flyers failed to play three good periods Thursday night and it cost them a win.

For the umpteenth time this season, the Flyers followed a great period with a clunker. The result: They blew a 4-1 lead and lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 5-4, at the Wells Fargo Center.

There are no excuses for lacking a killer instinct against their arch-rivals. The Flyers were home. They should have been a more desperate team because of the standings, and they should have had extra incentive because they were coming off a poor third period in a 4-2 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday.

Yet, after firing 18 shots in the first 20 minutes, they managed only seven shots in the next 27 minutes.

“It was a big letdown,” winger Scott Hartnell said. “I don’t know why we stopped playing from the way we were in the first period. We were fast, quick, hitting, getting into the extra-curricular activities after the whistle and we were playing Flyer hockey. Then we just sat back, and when you do that against (Evgeni) Malkin and (Sidney) Crosby, these guys are snipers and make plays.

“If we play like that, it will be a long summer.”

In the first period, the WFC was alive. After that, the crowd mimicked the team’s play on the ice. They were quiet. Very, very quiet.

The Flyers (11-13-1) blew a three-goal lead and lost in regulation for the first time since 1993, and they are now 0-5 this season in games that are tied heading into the final period. They fell two games under .500 and dropped into a tie for 10th in the Eastern Conference.

Normally, it wouldn’t be time panic after 25 games. But with just 23 games left in this shortened season, GM Paul Holmgren has to seriously consider a move.

Does he trade a high draft pick for a player (Jarome Iginla? Mark Streit?) who could become a free agent?

Stay tuned.