Flyers forced to play more and more defense, suffer 3rd straight loss


The Flyers saw the circumstances catch up to them Wednesday night with a 5-2 loss to the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

With the club's injuries and inexperience, John Tortorella's goaltenders have had to work a lot.

The Flyers (5-3-2) allowed 44 more shots against the Maple Leafs. The five goals surrendered marked a season high through 10 games.

They've lost three straight games, with two of the defeats coming in overtime.

The Flyers dropped to 0-3-0 in the second game of back-to-back sets. A lot of youth will do that.

Joel Farabee gave the Flyers a brief 1-0 lead in the first period. Owen Tippett netted the other marker in the third period.

John Tavares scored a hat trick for the Maple Leafs (5-4-2), who halted a four-game losing streak.

On Tavares' third goal, Felix Sandstrom lost his skate blade and had no chance to stop the power play blast. On his second goal, Tavares made a highlight-reel move past Travis Sanheim before collecting his own rebound to beat Sandstrom.

• Tortorella's team entered the night allowing the NHL's third-fewest goals per game (2.44) but also permitting the third-most shots per game (35.9).

It's feeling like only a matter of time before the Flyers' dam starts to seriously leak.

A week and a half ago, Tortorella was asked if people make too much out of shots for and against.

"Yes," he said.

At that point, the Flyers were 4-1-0 but had been outshot in four of the five games.

Did that concern Tortorella?

"Coaches are concerned about everything," he said. "You guys live on numbers. I don't live on numbers. I use my eyes, I use my stomach. I just don't go by all of that stuff.

"Having said that, though, I still think we're playing in our end zone too much, there's no question."

The Flyers are definitely having to play too much defense. The eye test shows that and so do the numbers.

Sandstrom stopped 39 of the 44 shots Wednesday night. He got the start after Carter Hart denied 35 of 36 shots in a 1-0 loss the night before to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Hart is 5-0-2 with a 2.10 goals-against average and .943 save percentage.

With 23 saves, Maple Leafs netminder and former Capital Ilya Samsonov improved to 8-1-0 lifetime against the Flyers.

• Travis Konecny and Auston Matthews exchanged some words and hacks in the third period.

Veteran defenseman Mark Giordano came flying in to defend Matthews by tackling Konecny.

Kevin Hayes stood up for Konecny by dropping the gloves with Giordano.

The clubs meet twice more: Dec. 22 in Toronto and Jan. 8 in Philadelphia.

• The Flyers' power play went 1 for 6, cashing in on the sixth opportunity thanks to Tippett.

Over five minutes after taking a puck up high, Tippett showed he was OK by lacing home a nice shot.

The 23-year-old's second goal in the last three games brought the Flyers within 3-2. But Tavares then deked around Sanheim to cushion Toronto's lead back to two goals.

• Following the OT loss at Madison Square Garden, Tortorella said he was likely going to insert Tanner Laczynski and Egor Zamula into the lineup Wednesday for some fresh legs.

Morgan Frost and Justin Braun came out of the lineup against Toronto.

Braun is 35 years old and his rest allowed Zamula to slide onto the third defensive pair.

With Frost, Tortorella believes the 23-year-old center needs to do more offensively given his role.

"When you have a team that is looking for skill and a guy that is supposed to be skilled, I want to see more plays from him, because there are plays there," Tortorella said four days ago. "Until that comes, I want to see better play away from the puck from him."

"When things aren't going well there, then work at the other parts of the game. That's what I want to see out of him. Have I seen it consistently? No. But that's what I need to see out of him because I think that helps build his foundation and then it allows him to play."

• The Flyers finish their three-game road trip Saturday when they face Claude Giroux and the Senators in Ottawa, Ontario (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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