Philadelphia Flyers coach Roger Neilson has felt terrible all season and recently learned he has walking pneumonia. The play of his sleepwalking team Tuesday night couldn't have helped.
"After the first shorthanded goal, our minds didn't seem to be there," said a wheezy, medicated Neilson, whose team looked nothing like the one that outscored opponents 14-2 during its four-game winning streak. "We had so many turnovers and were out of position so many times, it was crazy."
Mark Messier scored his fourth goal of the season, an empty-netter with 72 seconds left. It was his 614th career goal, passing Mario Lemieux for sixth in NHL history.
"I keep saying, I never really considered myself a natural goal-corer," said Messier, the league's active scoring leader and Lindros' boyhood idol. "My game is more honed to finding ways to win. Mario was a great player, and we all know he did it in half the games I did."
"The first five games, I felt I couldn't do anything right," Schaefer said. "There's going to be good spurts and bad spurts."
The Flyers know all about that. They started the season 0-5-1, then won four straight before this lackluster loss.
Philadelphia dropped to 3-4 at home and 0-2 against Western Conference teams. The Canucks, leading the Northwest Division after two straight last-place finishes, won their second straight. They beat the Flyers for the first time since 1993, breaking an 0-8-1 slide.
The Canucks, who led the league with 18 shorthanded goals last season, are first again with five. The Flyers were 1-for-5 on power plays and failed to take a shot in their final attempt in the third.
"We had a real bad night," said Lindros, bothered by the flu all week. "Our power play was awful. We were just right out of sync. We weren't doing basic things."
Lindros gave the puck to Schaefer at the Flyers' blue line, leading to Darby Hendrickson's shorthanded goal that tied it 1-1 with 6:47 left in the first. Vanbiesbrouck stopped Schaefer's breakaway shot, but Hendrickson flipped the puck into the nearly open net as Lindros skated right by without taking him out of the play.
"I didn't know where the puck was," Lindros said. "Instead of turning toward Beezer, I turned the other way."
The goal ended Vanbiesbrouck's club-record scoreless streak at 227 minutes, 40 seconds. Vanbiesbrouck faced only 21 shots.
Schaefer scored Vancouver's second straight shorthanded goal with 3:39 left in the first to make it 2-1. Harry York picked up a loose puck along the boards in Philadelphia zone's, skated 2-on-1 against Eric Desjardins and passed to Schaefer for a quick wrist shot past Vanbiesbrouck.
After Mikael Renberg tied it late in the first period on the power play with his first of the season, Schaefer scored his second of the game and sixth of the season on the power play 63 seconds into the second to make it 3-2.
From that point, the Flyers abandoned their defensive style and tried to skate with the Canucks, to no avail. Lindros and LeClair, battling slumps after enering the season with back injuries, were both on the ice for four of Vancouver's goals.
"The team didn't play a very good game," Neilson said. "I'm not prepared to single people out."
LeClair partially fanned on a between-the-legs pass in the Canucks' zone, leading to Naslund's goal on a 3-on-1 break to make it 4-2 3:05 into the second.
Vancouver almost took a three-goal lead into the third, but Alexander Mogilny's breakaway shot somehow slid across the crease and grazed both posts before sliding away five minutes into the second. Mogilny hit the post twice more in the third.
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