By Tom Dougherty


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This is as bad as it gets, and there is no way to sugarcoat it. The Philadelphia Flyers blew a three-goal, third-period lead and lose, 4-3, to the New York Islanders in a shootout Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center.

It was the Flyers’ third straight loss. The Islanders haven’t lost in regulation since Oct. 11. They’re now 13-0-1 in 14 games since.

Jordan Eberle and Mathew Barzal scored the only goals in the shootout.

Sean Couturier, Ivan Provorov and Oskar Lindblom each had a goal and an assist and Brian Elliott made 33 saves.

The Flyers head out for a brief two-game road trip down south, beginning in Sunrise, Florida, on Tuesday night with a date against the Panthers.

Here are five observations from Saturday’s loss.

1. The Flyers had a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes on the backend of a back-to-back and lost. The Islanders were well-rested and the Flyers were not, but you can’t blow a three-goal lead in the final 20 minutes and turn to excuses.

Elliott played well Saturday night but folded when the team in front of him was gassed. In the same situation last Sunday in Boston, Carter Hart won the Flyers the game in the third period and then overtime. Elliott couldn’t Saturday.

It’s not all on Elliott, though. The last goal squeaked by him, but the rest were the Islanders winning more battles. The Flyers ran out of gas and simply couldn’t hold off the Islanders.

That’s three straight losses and two straight bad losses. You can’t have a 3-0 lead with 20 minutes left and lose. You have to find a way to win that game. No matter the circumstances.

2. Provorov has really started to find his footing on the power play in his fourth season, and it continued Saturday. Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere have been switching back and forth as the QB on the Flyers’ first power-play unit. Provorov was on PP1 on Saturday.

After drawing a tripping penalty on Jordan Eberle following sustained pressure in the Islanders’ zone, Provorov uncorked a one-timer past Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead going into the first intermission.

It was Provorov’s fourth goal of the season, third power-play goal, which is a career-high, and his eighth PP point, also a career-high. Through 20 games, Provorov has 13 points. Not bad, considering it too him twice as long to reach 12 points last season

The Flyers’ power play was 1 for 3 on the night.

3. While the Flyers’ coaches have been juggling lines throughout the season, one line that had previously gone untouched was the Couturier, Lindblom and Travis Konecny trio.

That changed Saturday. Couturier and Lindblom stayed together, but Joel Farabee replaced Konecny. The switch quickly paid off.

Couturier gave the Flyers an early 1-0 when he took a Lindblom pass and went bar down.

It was Couturier’s sixth of the season, and he’s playing with an injured shoulder too. Breaking up the 11-14-23 line likely had more to do with the Flyers still searching for the right combinations than anything else. The trio had been the Flyers’ best line, and replacing Konecny with Farabee didn’t take away from it. It goes to show you just how important Couturier is to this team. He now has 10 points in his last 10 games.

The Flyers are now 9-3-1 when scoring first.

4. Speaking of Lindblom, you have to credit Ron Hextall and the development staff. Hextall’s tenure as Flyers General Manager ended with a bit of a black eye, but he built a deep pool of young talent.

Lindblom is an example of that. He was a fifth-round pick in 2014 whose skating was a major minus. Lindblom has improved his skating every year and now, he’s making an impact nightly.

The 23-year-old had his third multi-point game of the season Saturday night. He sniped Greiss in the second period for his team-leading ninth goal of the season.

The Swede plays a smart game, and behind Couturier, he’s their next best defensive forward. Quite the find by Hextall.

5. The last time these two teams met, the Flyers’ were clobbered by the Islanders, 5-3, on Long Island. Carter Hart was pulled after allowing five goals on 14 shots. The Islanders outclassed the Flyers in all aspects for 60 minutes. It was the first of two losses that undid all the positives the Flyers added to the bank in their nine games. After losing 7-1 in Pittsburgh two nights later, the Flyers had righted the ship and compiled points in seven of their next eight games (5-1-2).

Saturday’s loss, though, was a sign this team remains a work in progress. Overall, the Flyers have gotten off to a good start under Alain Vigneault. But Saturday is a good example of why so many are still skeptical.

The Flyers’ MO over the last so many years has been failing to hook fans back in after getting them to take the bait. The Flyers’ 2-1 shootout loss Wednesday to the Capitals was a good loser point after sweeping last weekend’s back-to-back in Toronto and Boston.

Now the Flyers have lost three straight with a bad loss Friday in Ottawa and another one to a divisional rival. The questions are back, and they’ll keep coming back until this group of players can buck this trend.