RALEIGH, N.C. -- What has been known for a while became official Saturday afternoon: The Flyers will not participate in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Their ridiculously slim hopes disappeared as they were eliminated with a deceiving-looking 5-2 loss to Carolina at PNC Arena. With the Flyers swarming the net late in the game, the Hurricanes scored a pair of empty-net goals.
Teuvo Teravainen and Justin Faulk each scored power-play goals for Carolina, which is battling Montreal and Columbus for the two Eastern Conference wild-card spots.
The Flyers, who have four games left, have now missed the playoffs four times in the last seven years. That’s their worst span since they did not make the playoffs for five straight seasons from 1990 to 1994.
The Flyers have not won a playoff series since 2012, when they ousted Pittsburgh in the opening round. That seven-year drought is the longest in franchise history.
The fact the Flyers were just 15-22-6 in the first two months is why they won’t be playing in the playoffs, captain Claude Giroux said.
“The poor start is the reason we’re in this position,” he said. “Every year, it feels like it’s the same story. We need to figure it out.”
Scott Gordon, who became the interim coach on Dec. 17, pointed to the goalie injuries. Because of injuries and ineffective play, the Flyers used an NHL-record eight goaltenders this season.
“When you look at most of the teams that are in the playoffs, it’s two or three goalies, max,” Gordon said. “How many points were lost because of that being unsettled? The points that get lost from not having that -- and no one is to blame, that’s just the way it played out -- I think that more than anything is the difference of not being in the playoffs."
“You can sit here and talk about different reasons, but at the end of the day, we didn’t get the job done,” center Sean Couturier said.
Carolina had not scored a power-play goal in its previous nine games as it went 0 for 15. But the Canes were 2 for 2 Saturday against a Flyers penalty kill that has been stellar for the last four months.
Faulk made it 3-1 by scoring on a power-play point drive with 8 minutes, 3 seconds left.
“I didn’t control the game as well as I wanted to and maybe gave up a few too many rebounds and created some extra opportunities,” said goalie Cam Talbot, who stopped 27 of 30 shots while making his first start since March 1 and just his second with the Flyers. “I thought I settled down in the second, but gave up that third one (to Faulk), and from a goal-tending standpoint, that just can’t go in.”
Flyers rookie Oskar Lindblom answered with a power-play goal of his own with 6:48 remaining, ending an eight-game drought and cutting the deficit to 3-2.
The Flyers got another power play with 3:30 to go, but former Flyer Peter Mrazek (30 saves) withstood a barrage of shots.
Giroux, scoring on a one-timer after taking a perfect two-on-one feed from Corban Knight, gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead with 7:55 left in the opening period. James van Riemsdyk started the play by poke-checking the puck ahead at the defensive blue line, and Giroux (21st goal) snapped a 10-game goal drought.
The Hurricanes dominated the rest of the period, and they got goals from Teuvo Teravainen (power play) and defenseman Dougie Hamilton 21 seconds apart to take a 2-1 lead. Blown coverage contributed to both goals.
The Flyers fell 16 points out of the playoff hunt in mid-January. They then went on an 18-4-2 run and got to within three points of a wild-card spot with 13 games left.
But they then lost five of their next seven games to virtually fall out of the race.
On Saturday, it became official.