During the morning, John Tortorella mentioned how the Flyers would inevitably experience more pain as they build from the ground up in this transitional season for the organization.
Two days after his club snapped a 10-game losing streak, the pain came back.
The Flyers were no match for the pedigree-laden Lightning as they fell, 4-1, Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
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Carter Hart was hung out to dry by his team in a game-deciding second period. The 24-year-old goalie then surrendered a fluky goal in the third period that made it 4-0 Tampa Bay.
The Flyers (8-11-5) are 1-8-3 in their last 12 games. Travis Konecny returned to the lineup and scored the team's lone goal.
A couple of days ago, the beleaguered Flyers mercifully returned to the win column and finished a November to forget at 3-8-4.
"There's a path forward here to be more competitive and I expect to be more competitive the rest of the way," general manager Chuck Fletcher said Thursday morning. "We're five points out of a wild-card spot now. We'll see. We'll see if we have the capability of staying in that race and competing. But I do expect us to continue to defend well, continue to compete and continue to be a hard team to play against."
With the Flyers turning the calendar to December, Tortorella emphasized the required work and patience for his club. While hockey folks never want to concede anything, the Flyers are not naive about this being some sort of quick fix.
"When you're feeling some pain — and we're going to feel more pain, we're going to go through a lot of pain — when you start feeling that pain, do you change your thinking and panic and readjust how you're going to go about it?" the Flyers' head coach said during his team's optional morning skate. "That's the important part for us in this organization — just stay with it.
"No matter what people want to hear out here, it's going to take some time to get this right. If we want to get it right, it's going to take some time.
"You just get stuck in the mud if you continue to put bandaids on and gimmicks to get people in the building, whatever it is. You get people in the building and you get it right by winning. And the only way you can win is building it the proper way. That's how we're going to go about it."
The Flyers are 1-1-0 against the Lightning (14-8-1). The two clubs meet once more March 7 in Tampa Bay, Florida.
• The Flyers fell behind 2-0 for the 12th time in 24 games.
The Lightning took a stranglehold of the game by dominating the Flyers in the second period. They put Hart under siege, outshooting the Flyers 17-2.
"We just need to come out harder," Nick Seeler said of the middle stanza. "Better effort, better five-man unit, get pucks out and get pucks in when we need to. Simple as that. We didn't establish a forecheck and it hurt us in the second."
Steven Stamkos picked up his 1,000th career NHL point with an assist on Nicholas Paul's second goal of the game as Tampa Bay grabbed its 2-0 lead.
The Flyers were hanging on for dear life but then surrendered a backbreaking goal to Ross Colton with just 3.4 seconds left in the second period.
Egor Zamula, a 22-year-old prospect playing his 23rd career NHL game, had a costly neutral-zone turnover that led to a Corey Perry breakaway. Hart made the initial save but Colton flushed the rebound to make it 3-0.
"What I want to watch now is how we handle ourselves after something like this," Tortorella said. "Because we're embarrassed. And we should be. But how do you handle it? Do you curl up in a ball or do you face the next one head on? Do we have a good practice tomorrow and get ready for our next one?
"These are lessons we're going to go through. I'm pretty sure we're going to handle this the right way entering tomorrow."
Hart finished with 23 saves. The third-period goal hit the back boards and squeezed between his skate and the post.
"That might be one of the worst goals I've ever given up," Hart said. "That was tough. It happens. Some bounces go your way, some bounces don't. That one didn't. The best thing about it is it's in the past, so I've just got to put it behind me."
Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 21 of the Flyers' 22 shots. He was very good in the first period. The Flyers pushed hard for the game-opening goal but the two-time champion Vasilevskiy wouldn't break.
Paul then struck on a power play with under four minutes left in the opening frame. Tampa Bay improved to 8-0-0 when leading after the first period.
• The Flyers got two important players back in the lineup with the returns of Konecny and Tony DeAngelo.
Konecny was out for the past six games because of an injury to his right hand. DeAngelo missed the Flyers' 3-1 win Tuesday over the Islanders because of a lower-body injury.
The Flyers are missing four forwards. More on the injuries and some roster news here.
• The five-game homestand (1-1-0) continues Saturday when the Flyers host the Devils (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
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