With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Minnesota Wild have picked an inconvenient time to be playing their worst hockey of the season.
Matt Read scored the tiebreaking goal in the second period, Steve Mason stopped 24 shots and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Wild 3-1 Thursday night.
The Wild went on a 12-game winning streak in December and were the best team in the Western Conference for a three-month stretch. But they've gone 3-9-0 in March and have lost six of their last seven games, looking especially listless against a Flyers team that's not likely to make the Eastern Conference playoffs.
"It felt like we were pretty flat for a lot of the game," said Wild forward Zach Parise, who scored his 17th goal of the season just over 2 minutes into the game. "Our passing was off. We had guys open and we just missed them for no reason. A lot of one-and-dones in the offensive zone. They outplayed us, I thought."
Sean Couturier also scored and Jakub Voracek added an empty netter for the Flyers, who won for the third time in their last eight games (3-5-0).
"They came at us with a ton of speed in the first few shifts, but the players adjusted real well and played very well for 60 minutes," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol. "That's what it takes to win in this building against a good team."
Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk stopped 24 shots, but he was victimized by sloppy defensive play twice as the Flyers overcame their early deficit.
Philadelphia tied it with 2:01 left in the first on Couturier's 12th goal of the season. Couturier initially fanned on Brayden Schenn's centering pass, but he got a second chance and pushed a backhander that slipped between Dubnyk's legs.
Then 21 seconds into the second period, Read jumped on a loose puck in front of the Minnesota net and fired it past Dubnyk for his 10th of the year and second in two games.
"If we're winning 1-0 or by a goal at the end of a game, I don't think that play develops or happens," Dubnyk said of Couturier's goal. "We need to start treating it that way. And then same thing, we come out to start the second period, both very avoidable plays. And this time of year, it's small things like that that end up being the difference in games."
Instead, the Flyers grabbed the momentum and held the lead, playing a strong possession game that kept the Wild's offensive chances to a minimum the rest of the way.
"I thought in the neutral zone we had a tough time getting through," Wild defenseman Ryan Suter said. "We were turning a lot of pucks over. But I just don't think we were skating that well today."
Meanwhile, Mason came up big after questioning his teammates' effort in a 3-2 loss at Winnipeg on Tuesday. After he bobbled a puck that set up Parise's goal, Mason slammed the door on Minnesota the rest of the way.
"We have to find the consistency — that's something that we have to continue to work for," Mason said. "But these are types of efforts when you're going up against big strong teams that you need."
As for the Wild, their slump has likely cost them any chance of winning the Central Division. A long playoff run is still a possibility, but they'll have to find a way to turn things around in a hurry.
"There is no magical elixir," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "You've got to find it from your inner self. The competitive juices got to come from inside."
NOTES: Wild F Ryan White was scratched due to the flu. ... Flyers D Brandon Manning was back on the ice after missing five games with an injured shoulder. ... Minnesota signed former University of Wisconsin forward Luke Kunin, its first pick in the 2016 draft, to a three-year contract on Thursday. Kunin, captain of the US team that won a gold medal at this year's World Junior Championship, was assigned to Iowa of the AHL.
Flyers: At Columbus on Saturday.
Wild: Host Vancouver on Saturday.