Red Wings 5, Flyers 4: Philly again plays down to its competition

FLYROBSERVE21
Flyers goaltender Alex Lyon (left) replaces the struggling Petr Mrazek during the second period of Tuesday’s game in Detroit.

Five observations from the Flyers’ 5-4 shootout loss in Detroit on Tuesday:

Maddening Flyers

Is there a more maddening team in the NHL than the Flyers?

Perhaps not.

They are a streaky team that has a penchant for beating the top teams and losing to the weak ones.

In other words, they play up – or down – to their competition.

Two nights after they whipped the Metropolitan Division-leading Washington Capitals, the Flyers showed little urgency against a weak Detroit team.

[Box score]

Until the third period.

The Flyers swarmed the net in the third, overcame deficits of 3-1 and 4-3 as they got goals from Matt Read (his first NHL tally in nearly a year), Shayne Gostisbehere and Travis Konecny to tie the score at 4-4.  The Flyers had a 16-4 shots domination in the third.

They salvaged a point, but they should have had two.

As a result, they fell into the first wild-card spot.

[Eastern Conference Standings]

Only Buffalo has a worse record than Detroit in the 16-team Eastern Conference, and the Red Wings took a 10-game losing streak into the night.

The Red Wings are going nowhere when the season ends, but for the first 40 minutes, they outplayed and outhustled a Flyers team that can finish anywhere from first in the Metro to…well, out of the playoff picture.

Maddening.

The Flyers have beaten elite teams such as Tampa Bay, Washington (three times), Toronto (three times), and Vegas, and they have lost to such also-rans as Arizona, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Detroit, among others.

Defense is offensive

When Gostisbehere tied the score at 3-3 with a power-play tally midway through the third period, it gave Flyers’ defensemen 44 goals this season. That is the second -highest total in the NHL and is a big reason the Flyers are in the playoff hunt.

After Detroit took the lead, Konecny scored 28 seconds later to tie it at 4-4 with 5:26 left. It was Konecny’s 20th goal and 14th in the last 28 games.

Making things tough on themselves

For whatever reason, the Flyers, who have scored the fourth-fewest first-period goals in the NHL this season, have been slow starters.

It happened again against sad-sack Detroit.

The Red Wings were the more aggressive team and had the better scoring chances in a scoreless first period. Detroit had a 13-9 shots edge, and the Red Wings had 23-13 domination in shot attempts.

Flyers goalie Petr Mrazek looked sharp in the opening period. In his first game against his former team, he made three first-period saves on Dylan Larkin and a point-blank stop on Tyler Bertuzzi.

The Flyers have had a lead after the first period in just 14 of their 74 games this season. They are 9-1-4 in those contests.

Mrazek struggles again

The more you watch the inconsistent Mrazek, the more it seems the Flyers will not attempt to sign him after the season.

That said, when Mrazek was pulled for the second time in the last three contests, Detroit’s game-chasing goal was not his fault.

It was the Flyers’ sloppy defense that turned a Detroit possession into a fire drill. The Flyers scrambled all over the place in their defensive end and always seemed to be in the wrong spot before Evgeny Svechnikov gave the hosts a 3-1 lead with 10:03 left in the second. It was his first goal in nine career games.

Exit Mrazek.

Enter Alex Lyon.

Mrazek was superb in the first period, but allowed three goals on nine shots in the second.

Not good.

The worst: Mrazek was on his knees for some reason and Luke Glendening beat him from the right circle, firing a high shot to the short side for a shorthanded goal.

Larkin (17-game drought) and Glendening (18-game drought) ended long goal-less streaks in the second period.

Couturier’s milestone

Sean Couturier ended a 15-game goal drought and scored his 30th goal midway through the second, getting the Flyers to within 2-1. It was the 100th goal of his career.

In the closing seconds of the second, Couturier partially fanned on a pass/clear and forced Lyon to make a big save on Martin Frk just before the buzzer. It turned out to be an important stop.

In OT, Lyon robbed Danny Dekeyser from point-blank range to keep the game going. A short time later, Claude Giroux (three assists) was robbed by Jimmy Howard.

By losing after the OT, the Flyers fell to 2-7 in shootouts.