WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Five observations from the Flyers’ 3-2 shootout loss in Winnipeg on Thursday night:
If ever there was a night you expected Flyers coach Dave Hakstol to implode, this was it. But the third-year coach was his calm self after the game.
“We played a pretty good road game,” he said.
Well, they did score for the first time in three games, and the defense played valiantly after Radko Gudas lost his cool and received a game-misconduct penalty midway through the first period. But they also blew a 2-0 lead, allowed Winnipeg to tie the score with 48.4 seconds left, and lost in a shootout.
Oh, Gudas will probably get suspended for the third time in his career, too.
Hakstol needs to change his standards because that’s not a “pretty good road game.”
The defense was dragging in the third period and the overtime. Blame Gudas, whose ejection caused Flyers defenders to play many more minutes than usual.
Gudas originally was given a two-minute slashing penalty, but about a minute later — after fans loudly booed the scoreboard replay that showed the defenseman’s stick hitting Mathieu Perreault near his head — the refs huddled. They eventually gave Gudas a deserved five-minute major and a game misconduct.
Hakstol said the refs told him they did not use the replay (which isn’t permitted) to increase the penalty. But it sure seemed like it. The NHL needs to investigate why they increased the punishment.
Elliott’s tough luck
Goalie Brian Elliott did not play well in the shootout, allowing three goals on four shots. But he was the main reason the Flyers got a point out of the game. He made several outstanding saves on point-blank shots.
In the last four games, Elliott has been superb, but the Flyers have only one win in that span because their offense has struggled mightily. That should have GM Ron Hextall thinking about promoting some Phantoms forwards.
The Flyers have become a one-line team. Their top line has scored 25 of their 52 goals, 48 percent.
Watching 6-foot-5, 260-pound Dustin Byfuglien push around the Flyers and give the Jets some much-needed momentum Thursday, you can understand why fans are clamoring for big Samuel Morin to get recalled from the Phantoms.
Understandably, rookie center Nolan Patrick looked somewhat rusty in his return to the Flyers lineup after missing nine games because of a concussion. Patrick played just 7:58, had no shots, lost his spot on the second power-play unit to Michael Raffl, and won just 1 of 11 faceoffs (9 percent).
Hakstol, however, said he liked Patrick’s play.
“I thought his game was good. I thought he was sharp,” the coach said. “He was strong on the puck for not being in the lineup and coming into a pretty heavy game.”