Florida concludes a short two game homestand tonight against the visiting Philadelphia Flyers. Florida is riding a three game losing streak, and trying to change their luck. The Flyers, also recent victims of a three game losing streak, come into town high on their first win of the season. Afterward, the Panthers visit Tampa Bay for a game against the Lightning on Tuesday before returning home to play the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. The Flyers will be playing in the first game of a four game road trip. They go on to visit the Lightning tomorrow night, the New York Rangers on Tuesday, and the Washington Capitals on Friday.
Florida Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen admits getting his first start in more than two weeks at a critical point in the season against the Philadelphia Flyers wasn't at all surprising.
"It's not necessarily a matter of not knowing or being surprised," Clemmensen told NHL.com. "It's more about staying ready and preparing like you're going to play that next game all the time."
The 34-year-old was raring to go on Tuesday after being notified by coach Kevin Dineen in the morning he would get his first start in eight games -- despite the fact Jose Theodore had gone 4-0-1 over his last five starts. Clemmensen made Dineen look like a genius by making 35 saves to lead the Panthers to a 2-1 victory against the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center, extending Florida's winning streak to give games and snapping his team's three-game losing streak against Philadelphia.
After the game, coach Kevin Dineen talked about starting Clemmensen:
"My feeling was that Theo's played very well recently and I just made the decision," Dineen said. "Clem's work ethic and a few other factors went into it, previous records, so on and so forth. I felt that (Tuesday) was a good night for Clem and it obviously was. It was a good call."
In Florida's last game, the team looked better, but still managed to lose their third contest in a row:
Tomas Fleischmann scored for the injury-riddled Panthers, who have lost three in a row since opening the season with a 5-1 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night. Florida has scored two goals in its three losses.
Already missing regulars Kris Versteeg, Marcel Goc, Sean Bergenheim and Erik Gudbranson, the Panthers also found themselves without center Stephen Weiss after he was scratched with a lower-body injury.
Jose Theodore finished with 34 saves, including 14 in the first 11 minutes before Phillips beat him with a slap shot from the point toward the end of a second consecutive power play.
The Flyers dropped their first three of the season before defeating the New York Rangers on Thursday night. Here's a partial recap courtesy of NHL.COM:
An injury-plagued Philadelphia Flyers team desperate for its first win of the season scored a pair of goals in the second period and had a remarkable showing on a third-period penalty kill en route to a 2-1 victory against the New York Rangers on Thursday.
Wayne Simmonds had a goal and an assist and Jakub Voracek scored what proved to be the game-winner on the power play. Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 18 shots as the Flyers snapped an eight-game winless streak against the Rangers, dating to Feb. 20, 2011.
The Flyers played without two-thirds of their top line -- Brayden Schenn was suspended for a high hit Tuesday against the New Jersey Devils' Anton Volchenkov and Scott Hartnell is out four-to-eight weeks with a broken first metatarsal in his left foot sustained in Tuesday's game when he was hit by a shot by teammate Kimmo Timonen. The Flyers also were missing injured forwards Danny Briere (wrist) and Zac Rinaldo (leg), and they lost defenseman Andrej Meszaros to an upper-body injury sustained at the end of the second period. He sat out the entire third period and the Flyers say he will be re-evaluated Friday.
Game Time: 7:30 PM
Season Series: 0-0-0, This is the first of three contests between the two, with the Panthers twice visiting Philadelphia in February.
All-Time Series: 27-38-12
Philadelphia Flyers: 1-3-0, .250, two points, fourth in the Atlantic Division, 12th in the Eastern Conference, 24th in the NHL. Last five: N/A, on pace for 24 points, playoff odds: 20.8%
Mike Weaver will appear in his 167th game, moving him past Brad Ference into 49th all-time.
Dmitry Kulikov will tie Bret Hedican in 39th all time by playing in his 202nd game.
Kris Versteeg's next goal will give him 24, tying him in 48th with Dave Gagner.
Ed Jovanovski's next goal will be his 33rd, moving him into a tie for 31st with Valeri Bure.
Brian Campbell will tie Mike Hough with his 52nd assist, moving him into a tie for 38th.
Dmitry Kulikov will tie Paul Laus in 31st with his 58th assist.
Today in Panthers History: 1995
Bob Kudelski scored twice, and Rob Niedermayer and Jody Hull added one each in a 4-2 win at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning. John Vanbiesbrouck stopped 33-of-35 shots in the Panthers victory. It was Florida's first win of the strike-shortened season, leaving them at a familiar 1-3-0. Florida has a 2-4-3 record on January 26th.
Probable Lineup (from www2.dailyfaceoff.com)
Brian Campbell - Filip Kuba
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Keaton Ellerby
Jose Theodore - Scott Clemmensen
BIRTHDAYS: Former Cat Rhett Warrener, who scored four goals and 23 assists in 217 career Panther games, turns 37 tomorrow. "The Great One" Wayne Gretzky enjoys his 52nd birthday today.
Brian Campbell - two goals.
Brian Campbell, Tomas Fleischmann, Alex Kovalev, Jonathan Huberdeau - two assists.
Brian Campbell - four points
Jonathan Huberdeau - plus-one
Keaton Ellerby - 13 PIM
Brian Campbell - 106 minutes on ice
Claude Giroux - two goals
Wayne Simmonds - two assists
Wayne Simmonds - three points
four tied at plus-one
Scott Hartnell - 13 PIM
Kimmo Timonen - 94 minutes on ice
Around the NHL:
The Avalanche kick off today's action in San Jose at 4PM. Later, at 7PM, the Rangers host Toronto and the Blackhawks visit Columbus. At 8PM, the Blues are in Dallas and the Kings visit the Coyotes. The night closes out with the Oilers in Calgary and the Predators in Anaheim.
Florida is hoping for a bounceback contest against a similarly underachieving club. Tonight features 32-year old Ilya Bryzgalov in net. The enigma has been exceptional in his career against the Panthers, posting a 4-1-1 record with a .944 save percentage and a 1.47 GAA. If the Panthers are hoping for an easy target, they better hope he has "one of those days." I predict he does, and Florida scores three in the first to chase him in an eventual 4-3 victory.