The Flyers found themselves in an unfamiliar position at the start of the third period on Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks.
They trailed by two goals.
In four of their last six games, the Flyers had led by a pair of goals to either begin the final period or during it. However, in each of those contests, they failed to protect the lead and either lost in overtime, a shootout or regulation.
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The Sharks, on the other hand, put on a clinic and showed the Flyers how to play with, and maintain, a two-goal lead over the final 20 minutes of a hockey game. They were disciplined with the puck, remained aggressive on the offensive end, limited the Flyers to just five shots, stayed out of the penalty box and ultimately sent them to their ninth straight loss.
The winless skid (0-4-5) is the longest in franchise history since 2008. The Flyers, who last won on Nov. 1 against the Blackhawks, are buried in the Metropolitan Division basement and quickly watching their season fall apart. They are mercifully off until Saturday, when the Bruins come to the Wells Fargo Center.
“This is pretty tough,” defenseman Andrew MacDonald Tuesday. “I mean, tonight was one of those ones where nothing was going right. We couldn’t generate anything. Sloppy play. Certainly not a game we are proud of. Tough one to put our name on.”
Most, if not all, of the nine losses fall in that category, though. Throughout the losing streak, the Flyers have found every which way to lose. They’ve wasted leads, taken careless penalties, had defensive breakdowns and been outplayed.
The ugly atmosphere wasn’t just limited to the ice, either. Fans spent the final half of the game either booing the Flyers, calling for the coach to be fired or practicing their chants for the football team that plays across the street and is riding a nine-game winning streak.
Following the game, the players held a closed-door meeting. Alternate captain Wayne Simmonds said it was due to the entire losing streak and not just because of the lifeless effort on home ice against the Sharks.
“It’s not this one. It’s all nine. It’s a cumulative thing,” he said. “We have had leads, we have had chances to win in overtime and shootouts – whatever it may be and we haven’t done it. I know it’s unacceptable. This isn’t right.”
The coach, who heard the fans demanding for his removal, is confident in the make-up of the team and its will to turn things around.
“I believe we have the group in the locker room that collectively is mentally tough enough to show up and go back to work and dig our way out of this,” Hakstol said.