NEWARK, N.J. -- When it comes to shooting themselves in the foot, the Flyers can be world-class marksmen.
They lost again on Saturday, this time to a Devils team that isn’t much better than them. The Flyers are at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standing on merit, a fact that even veteran Sean Couturier isn’t disputing.
The memories of Couturier gutting out last season’s playoff series are as grainy as tiresome Kate Smith videos as the Flyers lost their fifth consecutive road game in regulation. They are 1-7-2 in their last 10 away from the Wells Fargo Center. On Thursday, they beat Dallas to snap an eight-game losing streak.
“There’s something wrong. I can’t really point out what exactly,” said Couturier after the 3-2 loss at Jersey. “It’s been close to 50 games and you think things are going to turn around and you’re going to get on a streak, but after 45 games I think we’ve got to look at ourselves and find a solution here.”
Saturday’s problem was a couple of mistakes from the defense that ended up behind Carter Hart, who absorbed another loss despite a solid game.
Perhaps just as discouraging, New Jersey was playing without reigning-MVP Taylor Hall, who missed his ninth consecutive game with a lower-body injury.
Travis Sanheim coughed up a breakaway, which Nico Hischier finished for the Devils' second goal. Christian Folin and Robert Hagg teamed up to give away possession in the defensive zone, which Miles Wood eventually deposited for the eventual game-winner. The Flyers were chasing the game all day.
“I’ve got to make a stronger play there,” Sanheim said. “That second goal’s on me, for sure.”
Said Hagg: “As defensemen, we’re not moving the puck quick enough. We’re putting ourselves in (difficult) situations back there.”
As interim coach Scott Gordon said afterward, the Flyers aren’t scoring enough to overcome such misplays.
“A lot of players are playing the right way, but it doesn’t really matter how many guys are playing the right way if you’ve got two costly mistakes,” said Gordon, who is 4-8-2 since taking over for Dave Hakstol. “You can’t outscore those two mistakes. It’s as simple as that. It wasn’t great plays by them that set up the two goals. It was decisions by us that were poor decisions.”
The Flyers fell to 16-23-6. Only the Kings (37) have fewer points than the Flyers' 38, entering L.A.'s game late Saturday.
At least it’s a deep draft, led by Jack Hughes. “Lose for Hughes” is becoming the unfortunate rally cry among some in the Flyers' base.
James van Riemsdyk scored the first Flyers goal off a strong open-ice rush when he and Claude Giroux created a two-on-1one. Instead of looking for the highlight-reel pass, JVR roofed it past Devils rookie goalie MacKenzie Blackwood, who stopped 32 of 34 shots.
It was JVR’s second goal in two games and third in his last six. Couturier added a goal with 2 seconds left for his 300th career point to end the scoring.
Hart, also a rookie and also making his ninth career start, made 23 saves and is now 3-5-1.
“He’s been really solid,” defenseman Radko Gudas said. “He has this calmness that helps us, especially as a young d-corps. We can work with that. We can get better in front of him.”
Can’t get worse.
“It’s not one particular player that does it all the time, but when you consistently do those things throughout your lineup, (that’s where we get hurt),” Gordon fumed. “Especially when you’re not scoring a ton of goals like we are. Those mistakes are even more critical.”
The Flyers were 0-for-3 on the power-play and have not scored in their last 15 chances on the advantage. They also had a virtual power-play in the third period when a Devils player broke his stick while the Flyers had possession for about 90 seconds in the offensive zone. Didn’t score there, either. ... Giroux, playing on his 31st birthday, did not score a point, but was plus-2. His 24:18 of ice time was the most he’s played in a regulation game in nearly three years. ... Hischier, the No. 1 overall pick in 2017, also had an assist and was the game’s No. 1 star. Nolan Patrick, the No. 2 pick in 2017, saw his scoreless streak extend to 24 games. Patrick did not play poorly, however. ... The Flyers next play on Monday when Minnesota visits the Wells Fargo Center.