The Philadelphia Flyers were looking to extend their win streak to a season- high three games, but fell short as the Florida Panthers defeated them by a 3-2 count in a shootout on Thursday, avenging their previous meeting in which they lost 7-1 at home on January 26.
Jose Theodore got the win for the Panthers, and was the first star of the game, making 30 saves on 32 shots, as well as both chances he faced in the shootout.
Jack Skille and Stephen Weiss scored for the Panthers, with Dmitri Kulikov adding two assists, before Jonathon Huberdeau and Peter Mueller scored in the shootout to give the Panthers their third win in their last four games.
Ilya Bryzgalov was on top of his game again, stopping 22 of 24 shots in regulation, but he was unable to stop either of the pucks he faced in the shootout. Jakub Voracek started the scoring on the power play and Matt Read potted his fourth goal against the Panthers this season in the second period.
The Flyers were on their heels to begin the game, with the Panthers opening with a number of good shifts in the Flyers’ end of the ice. Claude Giroux took a hooking penalty at 7:39 of the period which they managed to kill off despite a number of failed clearing opportunities. However, only 3:23 later Skille managed squeeze a shot home from the slot. Bryzgalov managed to get a piece of it between his arm and body, but not enough to keep it out of the back of the net.
Kimmo Timonen, who just signed a one-year extension with the Flyers offered, “We can’t come out and play like that in the first period. Every game matters and if I can say we lost one point today that’s probably because of the first period.”
As the period wore on, however, the Flyers evened out play a bit. Filip Kuba was guilty of interference and the Flyers headed to the power play at 11:24. Jake Voracek, who has been markedly better at taking shots this season, ripped a snap shot from the the circle which beat Jose Theodore to tie the score at 1-1.
The second 20 minutes of play saw the Flyers take the lead at 2:42. Mike Knuble’s hard work found him banging away at a lose puck as Theodore tried to keep the post. The puck squeaked out to Matt Read who roofed it from the doorstep for this sixth goal in six career games against the Panthers.
The Flyers hustle was particularly evident in the second period as several chances were generated directly as a result of hard work. Brayden Schenn worked through some checking along the boards and fed Bruno Gervais for a chance. A diving Giroux managed to keep a clearing attempt from wrapping all the way around the boards at out of the zone just before Tye McGinn hustled to lift a stick to keep the pressure going on the power play. Both of those efforts led to significant pressure by the Flyers; but unfortunately no payoff. Mike Knuble’s effort continued as he made a diving play on a backcheck to prevent a potential breakaway.
“I really like the way we attacked in the second period,” said Head Coach Peter Laviolette. “We had a lot of zone time, a lot more attempts at the net.”
The final period of regulation began with the Panthers controlling play as the Flyers were perhaps playing a bit too defensively. At 8:25 of the stanza, Bruno Gervais was guilty of a tripping penalty which sent Florida to the power play. Coming into the game the Flyers had killed 14 of their last 15 penalties, in addition to the first three shorthanded situations of the game, taking it to 17 of their last 18. However, just 10 seconds into the man advantage Tomas Fleischmann sent Stephen Weiss a pass from the corner which he received near the faceoff dot and let go of a shot which beat Bryzgalov to tie the game.
“We know we have to stay out of the box. Any power play goals are going to kill us. The penalty kill is getting better and we’re doing a good job but at the end of the day, we just have to stay out of the box” said Flyers’ Captain Claude Giroux.
The Flyers power play, which was one for two before the third period, was unable to capitalize on two additional man advantages after Weiss’ game-tying goal.
“Yeah, we just couldn’t get the pucks to settle down” said Matt Read, one of the Flyers’ two goal scorers on the night. “When we did get it set up we weren’t just making the simple plays and getting pucks to the net. It just didn’t happen for us tonight and we have to keep working on that and learn how to close out games.”
The extra stanza was a dominant five minutes by the Flyers, registering five shots to the Panthers zero. At one point, on a single shift, Sean Couturier slid a puck through the crease, just missing the net, ripped a slapshot from the high slot, and later beat a man at the blueline before stepping in for yet another shot. However, the Flyers were not able to score the game winner.
Both clubs were partaking in their first shootout of the season. Highly-touted rookie Jonathon Huberdeau took the first shot for the Panthers, beating Bryzgalov on a gorgeous forehand, backhand, to forehand move. Matt Read was negated on his attempt when he shot for Theodore’s five hole. Peter Mueller took the second shot for the Panthers, and ripped a shot just inside the right post and over Bryzgalov’s left pad. Claude Giroux was next, and needed a goal in order to prolong the shootout. He did not connect, however, as Theodore stopped his backhand attempt.
The Flyers fell to 4-6-1 and 14th in the Eastern Conference, while the Panthers surpass the Flyers for the 13th spot –although they are tied in points– at 4-5-1.
The clubs will face off one more time in 2013 on Thursday, February 21 in Philadelphia to decide the season series.
Notes: Timonen logged over 26 minutes of ice time, a season high…Claude Giroux, coming off an 18-for-25 performance on faceoffs against Tampa Bay, opened the game going 7-for-7 in the first period but finished the game at 18-for-30 efficiency. He leads the league in faceoffs taken at 272, and is winning almost 56 percent of his draws…Read upped his output to six goals in six career games against the Panthers.