Against the hottest team in the NHL, mistakes made the difference as the Carolina Hurricanes fell to the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 for the Flyers’ eighth consecutive win. Each of the four Flyers goals were the direct result of either a turnover or a lost puck battle, as the Flyers put 10 different players on the scoring sheet.
The first period featured hard-nosed, mostly even action on each end. Both Carter Hart and Alex Nedeljkovic were able to settle into the flow of the game nicely in what was a even, penalty-less stanza. But inside the final two minutes, a lost puck battle with two Canes and Scott Laughton in the left corner led to a clean chance for Ivan Provorov. While Nedeljkovic was up the the task on the first shot, Provorov wrangled the rebound and slipped a backhander into the Canes net for the first marker of the game.
After falling behind yet again in the first period, the Canes were put on their heels in the second period as they took a pair of penalties in the first half of the period. While the Flyers were turned away on each man advantage, they were able to capitalize in the immediate aftermath of the second penalty as Vincent Trocheck played the puck into the center of the ice after being denied on a streaking chance in front. His turnover led to an abbreviated two-on-one that Michael Raffl took advantage of, giving the Flyers a 2-0 lead. As the period wore on, the Canes settled themselves a bit and generated a few quality chances, but to no avail.
As the third period commenced, the Canes faced a multi-goal deficit in the final frame, a fate they have been dealt all too often recently. The Canes attempted to fight back with a grinding tally from Justin Williams on a feed from Jordan Staal following a Brock McGinn rebound to slice the lead to one.
From there, though, the wheels came completely off for the Canes. An unforced turnover from Brady Skjei gave the Flyers the puck on the doorstep. While Nedeljkovic turned away the initial change, Nicolas Aube-Kubel was ultimately able to convert from below the goal line to restore the two goal advantage. Shell-shocked from the gift provided to the Flyers, the Canes were victimized again just 26 seconds later. Another defensive zone giveaway, this one from Jake Gardiner, led to another scramble in front of the net and an elevated puck from Sean Couturier made the score 4-1. Just like that, a one goal deficit became three.
Nedeljkovic didn’t necessarily struggle, although rebounds were a factor in a pair of the goals. The opportunities created by turnovers certainly put the rookie in tough situations as he stopped 28 of the 32 shots he faced. Carolina never got to their power play, while the Flyers were 0-2 with the extra man on the evening. The Canes will need to turn around quickly over the weekend as they seek to break their four-game losing streak beginning Saturday on Long Island.