PHILADELPHIA -- Nick Foligno's one-man effort broke open a scoreless game midway through the third period as the Ottawa Senators beat the struggling Philadelphia Flyers 2-0 at the WachoviaCenter on Thursday night.
It was the Flyers' sixth loss in their past seven games while Ottawa won for only the second time in their past six. Philadelphia has dropped three of four since Peter Laviolette replaced John Stevens as coach last Friday.
Foligno broke up a goaltending duel between Ottawa's Brian Elliott and Brian Boucher when he carried the puck up the left side into the Flyers' zone, used Philadelphia defenseman Oskars Bartulis as a screen for a sharp-angled shot and continued on to the net to push the rebound past Boucher at 11:31.
Elliott got great support from his teammates, who blocked 23 shots and held the Flyers to just eight shots during six power plays, including a first-period 5-on-3 advantage.
"From our goalie to our 'D' to our forwards, we played the system and we didn't give them much," Foligno said. "They had to take a lot of penalties tonight, and that's because we were moving our feet and creating chances and driving. I thought we made it tough on them tonight."
It was a frustrating night for the Flyers, who looked nothing like the team that overpowered the New York Islanders 6-2 on Tuesday.
"They blocked a lot of shots, particularly (Anton) Volchenkov and (Chris) Phillips," said Flyers left wing Scott Hartnell, who was thwarted on a couple of good scoring chances. "Give them a lot of credit. On our last power play, with two minutes to go, I don't think we got one shot on net."
The Senators added a shorthanded, empty-netter by Jesse Winchester with 50 seconds remaining. Elliott finished with 23 saves for his first shutout of the season and second of his career. Boucher stopped 23 of 24 shots.
The Flyers played a much more defensive game than when they beat the Senators here 5-1 on Nov. 12 for Stevens, who was fired last week and replaced by Laviolette, the former coach of the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders.
"I think we were different coming in here, just attacking more," Foligno said when asked how the Flyers had changed since Nov. 12. "Knowing they would come out strong at the start of the game, we had to weather that storm and we did. We took it to them the last half of the first period and pretty much the rest of the game."
In what may have been a statement of coaching philosophy, Laviolette played a rookie line of Andreas Nodl centering Jon Kalinski and David Laliberte while rugged Riley Cote watched from the press box. Philadelphia's other enforcer, Dan Carcillo, sat out the third game of a four-game suspension for sucker-punching Washington's Matt Bradley in last Saturday's 8-2 loss.
Nodl had a great scoring opportunity that went just wide of the net at 2:52 of the third period. After defenseman Ryan Parent chased his own dump-in to the corner, Nodl covered Parent's point. Nodl's long shot was headed for an open area on Elliott's right when it deflected off a leg.
That play was typical of the entire game for the Flyers, Laviolette said.
"The puck never found the net. We missed the net," Laviolette said. "There were a lot of blocked shots by Ottawa. Our shots from the point found their way through last game, and they didn't find their way tonight. Everything seemed to get knocked down and blocked out when they got to their net. There were a lot of bodies in the way."
While Bartulis may have looked like the goat for screening his goaltender on the winning goal, Laviolette was reluctant to blame the rookie and said the advantage was conceded to Ottawa back in the offensive zone.
"There was an attack on the (Ottawa) net that was pretty hard and guys were turning hard to get the cutback on the inside. We just got a stick on the puck and it jumped over (Elliott) and we didn't have the numbers back," Laviolette said. "We fell down in the offensive zone with our third man and we were a little late getting back on the backcheck. We lost the third man for a second and it was 3-on-3 on their rush and they got an edge to the inside, got a chip on it and it went up and over."
The Flyers' inconsistent play was widely cited as one of the biggest reasons for Stevens' firing and it was in evidence again Thursday during the first period.
The Flyers dominated play through the first 10 minutes, pressuring the Senators into two penalties that led to a 5-on-3. Philadelphia had several good chances during the two-man advantage after Filip Kuba was called for interference at 7:41 and Mike Fisher was whistled for tripping 14 seconds later. With Jeff Carter screening Brian Elliott, the Flyers positioned Mike Richards on the right side of the net and Danny Briere on the left while Chris Pronger ripped four shots from the blue line. Richards and Briere tried four times to connect through the crowd in front of Elliott and just missed the tip-in twice.
"Short of going into the back of the net, those are the looks you want and those are the people you want shooting the puck," Laviolette said.
The Flyers' best scoring chance came in the second period when Hartnell broke in alone but was denied by Elliott' at 5:47 while Hartnell was killing Jeff Carter's slashing penalty. Hartnell was frustrated when he attempted to push the puck past Elliott but wound up pushing the goalie into the net, with the puck under Elliott's pads and perhaps across the goal line. A review of the play upheld the no-goal call.
"He made the save but I was standing right by the net and I could see the puck by his skates and he was sliding back toward the post and half of his pads were in the net," Hartnell said. "From all the camera angles they had, they (still) couldn't see that, it's impossible. I just tried to push him a little farther. It's happened before, not the first time a play like that isn't called in your favor."
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