Eric Lindros and the Philadelphia Flyers tried to fight their way out of a slump. They got a good tie, but a bad piece of franchise history.
The Flyers' winless streak reached a club record-tying 11 games Sunday night with a 1-1 tie against the NHL-leading Dallas Stars. Philadelphia, which has dropped from first to fifth in the Eastern Conference in less than a month, is 0-7-4 in its last 11.
Philadelphia's two other 11-game winless streaks in franchise history were in the 1968-69 and 1970-71 seasons. They were 0-9-2 both times.
"We've got to do this every night," said Lindros, who tried to jump-start his team by fighting Derian Hatcher 40 seconds into the game. "We've got to play with some intensity every night. ... We don't need to tie. We need to win."
Mike Modano scored his 30th goal for Dallas, which improved to 6-1-2 without injured superstar Brett Hull. Modano has 21 points in 16 games. Jody Hull saved the Flyers from a second straight shutout with his third goal.
Amid criticism from the owner's box to the locker room that the Flyers have lost their toughness, Lindros tried to fire up his beleaguered team with a rare fight. It worked for a while, but the distressing streak continued.
"I think the guy just wanted to win very badly," said coach Roger Neilson, who said he didn't feel threatened by general manager Bob Clarke's speech to the team hours before game time.
"He just came in and talked about the Flyers organization and what was expected," Neilson said. "It was a good strong talk."
Before the game, the Flyers canceled a team vacation they had planned for New Orleans after playing in St. Louis on Tuesday.
"We don't deserve to go," Lindros said.
Rod Brind'Amour shot wide on a breakaway about 10 minutes into the third as the Flyers clearly were not playing for a tie. In overtime, they had to. Goaltender John Vaniesbrouck was called for delay of game for clearing the puck into the stands 2:46 into OT, putting the Stars on a power play.
Philadelphia outshot Dallas 3-2 in overtime, and both were 0-for-6 on power plays.
Philadelphia has been in an inexplicable free-fall since dropping out of the Eastern Conference lead last month. The Flyers are 2-11-5 since going unbeaten in 23 of 24 games from Dec. 12 to Feb. 6.
Instead of the Broad Street Bullies, it's been Meltdown on Ice.
"I thought they were a desperate hockey club," Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I would be, too. It was a man's game. No lightweights allowed in this game."
The Flyers, shut out 4-0 in Pittsburgh on Saturday night, haven't won since beating the Penguins 2-1 three weeks ago. They went 111 minutes without a goal before Hull tied it with 3:45 left in the second.
Lindros is one of the best fighters in the NHL, but rarely fights. His intentions were obvious.
"I don't think there was much of a doubt. He came right at me," Hatcher said. "I think when a team is struggling, you know, he feels he has to step up and try to do something."
As soon as the puck was dropped for the opening faceoff, the Flyers' captain took a run at Hatcher, the Dallas captain, then dropped his gloves almost immediately.
"I was just changing things up a bit, trying to get things going," Lindros said. "He knew what I was doing."
Before the ensuing faceoff, Philadelphia's Colin Forbes and Pat Verbeek of Dallas took swipes at each other and were sent off for high-sticking. Sensing the importance of the nationally televised game, the First Union Center roared to life as a breathless Lindros put his gloves back on in the box.
Less than a minute later, Philadelphia's Roman Vopat fought Grant Marshall in the Philadelphia zone. With three minutes left in the first period, Lindros was in the middle of a multi-player scuffle at the side of the Dallas net.
After an inspired first period, the Flyers reverted to their recent lackadaisical play with several giveaways in their own zone early in the second.
It was only a matter of time before the Stars broke through, and Modano made it 1-0 with his 30th goal four minutes into the period. Jamie Langenbrunner passed to Modano, who fed Jere Lehtinen for two quick shots in the slot before Modano put the rebound past Vanbiesbrouck.
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