Scott Laughton showed some fight against the Canucks’ Jared McCann.

By Harry Allison

It’s still early in the NHL season but the Flyers are already stuck in low gear when it comes to their offense.

Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen scored his first NHL goal, teaming up with Bo Horvat to lead the Canucks to a 4-1 win against the Flyers at Rogers Arena on Monday.

The Flyers simply have a hard time scoring.

Claude Giroux tied the game 1-1 early in the second period and Steve Mason made 30 saves for the Flyers (4-5-2), who have lost four straight (0-3-1) and continue to struggle offensively.

They came into the game second last in the NHL with 20 goals in 10 games, but could only get one puck past Miller. It wasn’t for lack of chances, though, which had Giroux and first-year coach Dave Hakstol talking about improvements despite another loss.

“Offensively it’s one of their best games we’ve had but we just have to find a way to put it in the net,” said Giroux, who ended a four-game goal drought with a pretty individual move on a partial breakaway. “We’re not happy because we lost, but we did a lot of things better.”

The Flyers almost tied it shortly after Horvat scored. Giroux got out of the penalty box and set up Wayne Simmonds in the slot, but his shot hit the left post behind Miller and bounced out.

Miller only needed one tough save to kill off 1:51 of the Flyers’ third power play to start the third period. The Flyers had two shots and are 0-for-13 over the past five games and converting at 11.4 percent this season, less than half of last season’s 23.4 percent success rate.

“We’re not happy and these aren’t easy times, but the group will stay together and keep working hard,” Hakstol said. “We had a lot of good opportunities. We put more pucks to the net tonight. I thought we had a more concreted effort to get some bodies to the blue paint. There was a couple pucks that squeaked wide, a couple pucks that I don’t think [Miller] saw that hit him, but that’s good goaltending on his part and we just have to stay with it.”

Hansen opened the scoring 1:08 into the game on a 2-on-1, taking a pass from Horvat that caught Mason sliding to his left, and then cutting back across the other way.

Horvat put the Canucks ahead during a 4-on-4 situation after offsetting minor penalties to Giroux and Daniel Sedin. Hornet skated behind the net and out the other side, holding off defenseman Mark Streit up to right hash marks before spinning and sweeping a low shot past Nick Schultz’s block attempt and Mason’s right pad, just inside the far post.

“It’s a tough play from a goaltender’s point of view,” Mason said. “You don’t want to get up out of your down position because it could go through your legs. Schultz is just trying to do his job and I gotta get off my post more and get more centered in the net and cover a little more ground.”

Mason kept the Flyers in it while being outshot 8-1 early, denied Horvat on a breakaway just before Giroux tied it early in the second period, and got some help when forward Chris VandeVelde swept a bouncing puck off the goal in a scramble late in the period.

Philly has given up 30 or more shots every game this season, and Mason knows he doesn’t have a lot of room for mistakes, especially when combined with the Flyers’ offensive woes.

“We’re not scoring goals, so it puts that much more emphasis on keeping it at one or two goals, starting with me,” Mason said. “We gotta find ways to make extra saves and keep it tight.”



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