Canucks send Michal Neuvirth to early exit, hand Flyers 5th straight loss

Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth turns away a shot by the Canucks' Thomas Vanek during the second period.

The Flyers’ forwards couldn’t finish many of their scoring chances Tuesday night. Their starting goalie couldn’t make it to the third period. Their defense was sloppy and, on too many occasions, out of position.

In addition, they allowed their fourth and fifth power-play goals in the last two games.

Put it all together and you can understand why the Flyers suffered their fifth straight loss, dropping a sleepy 5-2 decision to Vancouver at the Wells Fargo Center.

 

[Box score, three stars]

 

“It’s details that are costing us games right now,” center Sean Couturier said. “I don’t think we’re playing bad hockey or we wouldn’t be getting 30 shots a night, but on the defensive side, we need to be sharper. Little details — whether it’s picking up your guy, chipping it out, a [better] line change, it’s all those little things that add up and make a difference in a game.”

The Flyers had 38 shots, but most were from the perimeter and they had little traffic in front.

“If the goalie sees it, he’s going to stop it,” right winger Wayne Simmonds said.

“You’ve got to own it and do better,” coach Dave Hakstol said of the latest poor performance.

As the defeats pile up, it’s fair to wonder how much longer general manager Ron Hextall will wait before trying to shake things up. High-scoring left winger Danick Martell and bruising defenseman Samuel Morin are among the Phantoms players who may soon be wearing orange and black.

The Flyers, who have lost six of their last seven home games, got to within 4-2 when Jake Voracek blasted home his sixth goal with 10 minutes, 4 seconds left. Energized, the Flyers started to swarm the net, but 6-foot-6 goalie Jacob Markstrom (36 saves) had all the answers, and the Canucks added a late empty-net goal.

The game showcased why Hakstol was successful at the University of North Dakota. The man could recruit.

Brock Boeser is a perfect example. The rookie right winger, a former North Dakota star, scored a pair of goals to lead Vancouver (10-8-3) past Hakstol’s team.

The Flyers ended a stretch in which they played 10 consecutive Western Conference opponents — and won just two games.

Michal Neuvirth, making his first appearance in 17 nights, was rusty and allowed four goals on 22 shots before being replaced by Brian Elliott late in the middle period.

Poor rebound control by Neuvirth allowed Sven Baertschi to score a power-play goal and put the Canucks ahead, 4-1, and send the goalie to the bench with 5:20 left in the second.

“I need to be better,” said Neuvirth, who faced numerous odd-man rushes.

The Flyers’ offense, meanwhile, looked stale. Again. As a result, Hakstol briefly broke up his high-scoring top line in the middle of the second period. He dropped Claude Giroux to the second line with Nolan Patrick and Simmonds, and put Jordan Weal in Giroux’s left-wing spot on the top line alongside Couturier and Voracek.

“We’re pressing a little too much,” Giroux said. “We want it too much.”

Boeser, a Minnesota native who is now 20, was recruited by Hakstol but never played for him at North Dakota because the coach left to take the Flyers job.

 

Camera icon Steven M. Falk / Staff
Flyers’ Michael Raffl trips Canucks’ Bo Horvat during the third period at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia,.Tuesday, November 21, 2017. Canucks beat the Flyers 5-2. STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer

 

His second goal of the night, scored while Travis Sanheim was in the penalty box for slashing Brandon Sutter, gave the Canucks a 3-1 lead with 18:04 left in the second period. It gave him a team-high 19 points for the season.

In the opening period, Vancouver scored goals 19 seconds apart to take a 2-1 lead.

Daniel Sedin got behind Shayne Gostisbehere, took a pass from his twin brother, Henrik, and scored on a breakaway to tie the score at 1-1 with 10:18 left in the first. Sedin’s shot caromed off the left post, deflected off the leg of a sprawling Neuvirth and bounced into the net.

An offensive-zone turnover by Weal and a slow change of defensemen led to the Canucks’ second goal, a right-circle drive by Boeser.

The Flyers (8-9-4) are at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, and they play their next two games against the New York Islanders — Wednesday night in Brooklyn, and a 4 p.m. home game on Black Friday.

Will they have some AHL call-ups in the lineup for those games? Stay tuned.