Flyers burned in 3rd period by lapses, suffer frustrating loss to Devils


John Tortorella wanted a good response from his team after it was "embarrassed" last time out and the head coach got one for 40 minutes.

Then the final 20 minutes happened.

A third-period mistake by Carter Hart hurt the Flyers in a 3-2 loss Saturday night to the Metropolitan Division-leading Devils.

Prior to the ill-timed hiccup, the Flyers (8-12-5) had outplayed New Jersey, one of the NHL's best teams through the first couple of months.

Tortorella's club is 1-2-0 on its five-game homestand and 1-9-3 in its last 13 games.

The Flyers are 1-1-0 against the Devils (20-4-1) this season. The clubs meet twice more, with both matchups in Newark, New Jersey: Dec. 15 and Feb. 25.

The Devils are an impressive 11-1-0 on the road, with their only loss in Philadelphia back on the Flyers' season opener.

• Hart was too nonchalant when he played the puck behind his net with Miles Wood barreling down on him.

It forced a turnover right to Dawson Mercer, who scored the 2-1 go-ahead goal on the Flyers' unattended net just 1:49 minutes into the third period.

"Misplay, miscommunication," Hart said.

The lapse felt like a crushing one given how well the Flyers played through the first two periods.

New Jersey took all the momentum. Jack Hughes scored five minutes later and Devils fans were proudly chanting at the Wells Fargo Center.

• The Flyers made a late push.

Lukas Sedlak drew the Flyers within one. Joel Farabee nearly had the game-tying marker shortly after but it was immediately waved off as Morgan Frost interfered with Devils netminder Akira Schmid.

• The Flyers' power play entered the game 2 for 34 since Nov. 10, when the club's 1-9-3 stretch started.

It went 1 of 3 against the Devils with a much-needed game-tying goal in the second period. Kevin Hayes started the sequence before Noah Cates found Travis Konecny in the slot.

The marker came 1:40 minutes after what could have been a deflating goal by Fabian Zetterlund. When New Jersey's bottom-six winger scored, the Flyers were outshooting the Devils 17-5.

• The Flyers were dominated by the Lightning in a 4-1 loss Thursday night.

During his team's optional morning skate Saturday, Tortorella said the Flyers "fell off the map" with their structure after taking positive steps the previous two games.

"When you're not one of the top teams in the league and you're trying to fight your way to competitiveness and stay afloat, structure is something you need to lean on," the head coach said.

The Flyers were significantly better Saturday night against a Devils team that can really score. They held New Jersey to 12 shots through 40 minutes.

But they had to be better in the third period.

"We played our ass off," a curt Tortorella said.

• Hart finished with 15 saves.

The 24-year-old was hard on himself after the game.

"We played a great game the whole 60," Hart said. "I think it just comes down to goaltending at the end of the day. I've got to be better, I've got to make a few more saves, make some better plays.

"Learn from it and move on. And I will be better."

Konecny wasn't having it.

"He's been our best player all year," Konecny said. "He's our best player."

Schmid, a 22-year-old making his eighth career NHL start, stopped 31 of the Flyers' 33 shots.

• Tortorella had complimentary words for New Jersey's patient process through youth and development.

The Devils have made the playoffs once in the past 10 seasons, but they appear poised for a run of postseason contention.

"Jersey has, over the years, stockpiled some talent, grown it, has been a very quick team the past few years anyway," Tortorella said Saturday morning. "I think they're playing with a ton of confidence right now, they've got speed, a number of different things going for them."

Led by Hughes, New Jersey's top three scorers are 24 years old or younger.

"You hope you draft well, you're patient with it," Tortorella said. "They've gone through hell over there in Jersey, but they were patient, they kept on going. You just never know when that talent, they start turning into pros, when it starts maturing. But you need to stay patient with it. I think the organization has done a terrific job and now they have something really going for them."

More: Forget a rebuild label — Flyers just need to build it right

• Cam Atkinson, who has yet to play this season because of an upper-body injury, has continued to practice in full capacity.

"Just day to day for me right now," the winger said Saturday after the team's optional morning skate.

How has his body reacted to the physicality in practice?

"It's been pretty good," Atkinson said. "A little bit of an adjustment, just working out the kinks. I'm getting close, but not enough to where I think I can help this team right now. But I'm closer than not."

James van Riemsdyk, recovering from a broken left index finger, practiced Friday in non-contact fashion. The winger could be a week or so away from returning.

Wade Allison took the ice Saturday to test his oblique/hip issue. The winger did so under the close watch of head athletic trainer Tommy Alva.

• The homestand continues Monday when the Flyers welcome the defending champion Avalanche (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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