The Flyers dominated the Florida Panthers tonight at the Wells Fargo Center for a 5-0 win, which extend their winning streak to four games.
Ilya Bryzgalov had another amazing performance, as he made 28 saves for his second shutout in a three-game span. Bryzgalov’s fourth shutout of the season came without the help of defensemen Kimmo Timonen, Andrej Meszaros, and Pavel Kubina.
Bryzgalov earned the first star of the game and it was clearly deserved. The Flyers’ goalie, who recorded his 27th career shutout, made crucial saves early in the game, after both of the bouts in the contest, and late in the third period. Not only did he stop every shot, Bryzgalov did it with a decidedly fresh-faced defense in front of him.
Special teams played a huge role in the Flyers’ win as well, as they scored two power-play goals and killed off all four Florida power-play chances in the contest.
Jose Theodore was tagged for five goals on 35 shots in the loss, Florida’s first by shutout in Philadelphia since October of 1999.
Thanks to Bryzgalov, Jody Shelley, and Brayden Schenn, the Flyers were able to grab the game’s first goal for just the second time in their last 12 games.
After Bryzgalov fought off the Panthers’ early surge, which included two spectacular saves on shots from Shawn Mattias point-blank, Shelley drew a roughing minor on Ed Jovanovski.
The home team capitalized on some rare luck to take a 1-0 lead.
Claude Giroux controlled the puck along the left-wing boards before he saw Hartnell in the slot for a one-timer. The pass eluded Hartnell, who whiffed on his attempt to shoot the puck, and hit Schenn instead as he waited in the middle of the circle on the other side of the ice.
“It was a pass across from (Giroux),” Schenn said. “He tried to get it to Hartnell but he didn’t get any wood on it and the puck slid right to me and I kind of had an open cage.”
Jose Theodore wasn’t able to move across the crease in time to stop the blast, as Schenn’s ninth goal of the season came at the 10:35 mark of the opening period.
Minutes later, following a Flyers’ penalty kill for a Giroux slashing minor, Matt Carle stood up for his goalie.
As Jack Skille fended off Carle while the pair rushed towards Bryzgalov, Carle pushed Skille towards the net. Skille ran straight into Bryzgalov and knocked the goalie to the ice before he flew towards the corner. After the Panthers’ forward stood up, Carle skated over to him and tried to fight the former Chicago Blackhawk before they wrestled each other to the ground.
Skille was dealt a roughing minor, while Carle was handed a double minor for roughing. The Cats failed to convert on their second power play of the game, as the Flyers headed into the middle stanza with a one-goal advantage.
In the middle stanza, the Flyers furthered their lead to three due to goals from Matt Read and Hartnell.
A few minutes into the period, Read, who spent several seconds whacking away at the puck with Wayne Simmonds in Theodore’s crease, eventually put it past Florida’s goalie before he fist pumped in celebration of his 19th goal of the season.
“There were a couple of quick shots coming out of the corner from Danny,” Read said. “One was a rebound and Simmer and I were swinging at the puck. I got a stick on it at the end and I think Theodore may have pushed it into the back of the net.”
Immediately after the puck was dropped at center ice following Read’s goal, Shelley fought Krystofer Barch. Shelley held his own in the bout before Barch took him down forcefully in an attempt to get his Florida teammates motivated.
The fight moved the Panthers for a bit before Nicklas Grossmann drew a slashing call on Sean Bergenheim to kill the momentum.
Shortly after the Flyers failed to score with Bergenheim in the box, Hartnell released an absolute bomb by Theodore to give Philly a three-goal lead.
After a weak Tomas Fleischmann pass in the Flyers’ zone, Hartnell intercepted the puck and moved in alone on Theodore after managing to outrace a pair of defenders. A quickly released wrister from the left-wing side blew by Theodore’s glove and clanked the bottom of the crossbar before it traveled over the goal line for Hartnell’s 32nd of the season.
Philly entered the third period on the penalty kill, as Zac Rinaldo was called for boarding with 1:11 left in the middle stanza.
The Flyers’ forward left the box after a successful kill and nailed Erik Gudbranson in the Panthers’ zone before he dropped the gloves with the Cats’ defender. Gudbranson, who is five inches and 26 pounds bigger than Rinaldo, caught the rookie with a jab before he tackled him to the ice.
Gudbranson was handed an extra minor for roughing to put Philly on the power play. With a Florida bench minor for too many men on the ice shortly afterwards, the Flyers enjoyed a two-man advantage for 43 seconds.
Jaromir Jagr capitalized on the two-man advantage to put Philly up by four. Danny Briere, who controlled the puck at the bottom of the circle with the boards to his right, threw a pass to Jagr at the top of the circles. Jagr danced with the biscuit for a second before he released a shot that beat Theodore glove-side for his 18th tally in 2011-2012.
Later in the period, Eric Wellwood cranked up his own brand of offense to cap the scoring.
With both Max Talbot and Jovanovski in the box, Erik Gustafsson won a scrum at center ice along the right-wing boards and sprung Wellwood.for a breakaway in the midst of four-on-four action. He blasted the puck by Theodore with 1:27 remaining.
The Orange and Black face another challenge on Saturday night, as their next game is in Toronto against the battered Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre.
Notes: The Flyers have won five straight games against the Panthers…Kubina was scratched just before the game and is day-to-day with an upper body injury. Jakub Voracek also missed tonight’s game…Brandon Manning made his NHL debut, going plus-2 with three shots on net…Bryzgalov has a save percentage of .980 over the last three games…Tonight was Briere’s 800th game in the NHL. He had a pair of assists for his 10th multi-point game of the year but saw his goal drought extended to 21 games…Giroux had a pair of assists for his third multi-point game in his last four games played…This is the fourth time in 2011-2012 the Flyers won by a margin of five goals or more…Thursday marked the first time the Flyers shut out an opponent and scored five goals or more since their 6-0 win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Montreal in May of 2010…In addition to their seven-game winning streak to start December, the Flyers are enjoying their second winning streak of at least four games in length this season…Tonight was the seventh time all season the Panthers were shut out…The Flyers improved to 3-0-0 against the Panthers and to 10-5-2 against the Southeast Division this season (FLA 3-0-0, WPG 1-2-1, WSH 2-1-0, TBL 1-1-1, CAR 3-1-0)…The Flyers improved to 38-21-7. They were 41-19-6 after 66 games last season.