Flyers news

Tortorella apologizes for ‘terrible mistake' in postgame press conference

The Flyers' head coach apologized to Sandstrom for his non-answer in an interview Sunday night

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NEW YORK — A contrite John Tortorella found his backup goaltender Tuesday morning at Madison Square Garden.

The head coach wanted to apologize.

After Felix Sandstrom struggled in the Flyers' 4-1 loss Sunday night to the Panthers, Tortorella was asked about his goaltender's performance. He shrugged and didn't provide an answer, expressing frustration with his body language.

Tortorella later clarified, via Flyers vice president of hockey communications Joe Siville, that Sandstrom is "trying his ass off." But Tortorella also apologized to his goalie Tuesday and in his morning skate media availability.

"I made a terrible mistake with you guys the other night," Tortorella said ahead of the Flyers' game against the Rangers (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP). "My body language was wrong. What I should have said to you — I tried to communicate with you guys after — he's trying, Sandy's trying. Things happened this year that put our goaltending situation into a little bit of a state of flux. Sandy did not deserve that from me. You had a perfect right to ask the question. He did not deserve that from me. It was wrong."

Sandstrom took over for Cal Petersen as the Flyers' backup goalie in late February. On Jan. 23, the Flyers' goaltending picture changed drastically when Carter Hart requested a personal leave of absence because of a sexual assault case.

Samuel Ersson, a 24-year-old rookie, took over as the Flyers' No. 1, with Petersen and Sandstrom both seeing opportunities as the No. 2.

Sunday night was Sandstrom's third start with the big club this season. The 27-year-old allowed three goals on 14 shots. He understood Tortorella's frustration.

"He came and apologized to me, too," Sandstrom said Tuesday. "I know the team is racing to the playoffs, so I totally understand the frustration, too. My last performance wasn't what this team needed right now, so I totally understand that, too. I just try to focus every day on finding ways to get better, so the next time I get the chance, I can perform way better and where my potential is."

The Flyers are trying to nail down a postseason berth with 10 games to go. They've been in third place of the Metropolitan Division since the end of January. They're two points up on the Capitals, who have played two fewer games. Washington holds the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot, one point ahead of the Red Wings.

Tortorella said the Flyers aren't getting too far ahead with their decisions in net. Right now, they're focused on Ersson's start Tuesday night against New York.

Tortorella's apology has them moving on from Sunday night.

"We're here to win," Sandstrom said. "I'm probably the most disappointed of the day there, so I totally understand the fans, him and everybody. It wasn't enough. It's nothing to hide from, so I totally see that point. I totally understand it, but I really appreciate him sticking up for me, too."

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