RALEIGH — It would be easy to blame the missed chances that again made a rookie goalie look like Patrick Roy. Or perhaps it was the anemic power play that not only failed to score, but squandered a four-minute stretch without creating much of anything.
The story on Saturday, however, was another collapse. It wasn’t as bad as the Carolina Hurricanes’ crushing defeat to Boston on Tuesday. But it was close.
The Flyers — kept off the board through two periods — scored four times in the third to win 4-2 in front of 14,805 at PNC Arena.
“Our power play obviously could be better,” Hurricanes center Jordan Staal said. “But in the end, it came down to competing and just having pride in what we’re trying to do. We handed them a few cheesy or easy goals, and that was the game. … Just mistakes and compete and just pride in what we want to do and the team we want to be — that isn’t there right now.”
Staal got his 16th goal of the season, redirecting a rising Jaccob Slavin wrist shot down and through the legs of Flyers rookie goalie Alex Lyon (23 saves) at 15:12 of the first period, to give Carolina the league in what was turning into a goaltender’s duel.
Cam Ward (23 saves) kept it scoreless when he stopped Philadelphia Travis Konecny on a breakaway eight minutes into middle frame, and the Hurricanes carried their one-goal edge — and more than 2½ minutes of power play time — into the third.
The Hurricanes power play, as it was in the first period, looked lost, and like Tuesday against Boston — when the Bruins blitzed Carolina four goals in 6:26 to erase a three-goal deficit and win — the Hurricanes wilted in the third.
Konecny got revenge on Ward 8:19 into the period, redirecting a Travis Sanheim shot in to tie the game.
The Hurricanes seemed poised to stop the bleeding when Jaccob Slavin took a point shot that was blocked by Michael Raffl and came right back to him. He drove toward the net and buried a short side into the roof of the net to push Carolina ahead 2-1 at less than four minutes later.
“I tried to get the shot through and then he blocked it,” Slavin said. “I just saw that I could probably get a step on him, so I went for it and it ended up working out.”
The Flyers answered. Jakub Voracek found himself alone in front of Ward after a miscommunication between Justin Williams and Haydn Fleury, deking and pushing a falling backhand into the net to tie the game again at 11:58.
Carolina couldn’t recover this time.
“I don’t know if you felt that or not, but it sure felt that way,” Staal said of the game feeling like Tuesday’s loss to Boston. “Very similar and disappointing and frustrating.”
Williams carried the puck into the zone on an odd-man rush, and all five Hurricanes wound up deep in the Flyers zone. That left Valtteri Filppula — who had tangled with an official in the Hurricanes zone and was late to get back into the play — all alone at center ice for a breakaway, and he beat Ward stick side to give Philadelphia its first lead at 14:11 of the third.
“When you make a mistake, there’s nowhere to hide. You know. So it’s an unfortunate situation,” Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. “You just stick with it and do your own job and trust that the other four are going to do their job when they’re out there, then everything will be fine.
“Even on the game-winner — if you look at it, we’re trying to score the game-winner, right?” he added. “The intentions are right. The result isn’t what you want.”
Carolina pulled Ward with just over two minutes left, but Michael Raffl’s empty-netter with 1:50 remaining iced it.
The Hurricanes — losers of five of six and 3-9-2 since Valentine’s Day — have 11 games remaining in their season and are all but guaranteed their ninth straight season out of the playoffs.
“There’s times that we’re not competing hard enough,” Staal said. “I think it’s all throughout the lineup, myself included, and right through the lineup that we’ve got to do better and … believe that we can compete for each other and work and those grinding-it-out wins will come, and then the easier wins will come later.”
Notes: Noah Hanifin left the game in the third period with an upper-body injury. … Slavin’s goal, his seventh, set a new career high. … Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen extended their point streak to four games.