It had to happen sooner or later. The Florida Panthers and goaltender Roberto Luongo finally cracked and the club's inept offense had no answers in a 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. The defeat ended the Cats' run of seven games (4-0-3) collecting at least a point.
Sean Couturier opening the scoring just 3:53 into the game by tipping in a feed in front from Brayden Schenn. Matt Read picked up the second assist on Couturier's fourth of the season.
Schenn and Couturier combined to set up defenseman Michael Del Zotto for his first of the campaign just 2:45 later. Del Zotto was able to beat Luongo from a tough angle after taking a nice pass from Schenn.
After surviving the rest of the period, the Panthers fell behind by a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 count when Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored at the 2:50 mark of the second. A strong forecheck resulted in Carlo Colaiacovo finding Bellemare wide-open in the slot and he easily fired the puck by Luongo.
The Panthers upped the attack on Philadelphia netminder Steve Mason and responded midway through the period. Nick Bjugstad finally got his first of the season, on a power play, with the helpers going to Jimmy Hayes and Dmitry Kulikov. Big Bjugs knocked in a Hayes' rebound after Kulikov dumped the puck in off the boards.
Any hopes of a Cats' comeback were quickly dashed 39 seconds later, when Jakub Voracek continued his torrid start to 2014-15 by rapping home Claude Giroux's crossing pass to restore the Flyers' three-goal advantage.
An evenly played third period resulted in no scoring, and the Panthers had to be content returning home to South Florida with just one point on the two-game trip north.
A slow start doomed in the Panthers in this one. Florida was not able to match Philadelphia's intensity early, and with the offense still shooting blanks, falling behind by more than one goal is a recipe for a sure loss. The Cats turned things around in the second, outshooting the Flyers 17-9, but they got outscored 2-1 in the frame, frustrating to say the least. That the team has scored just 16 goals in 11 games is almost unfathomable. Players and coaches need to find a way to rectify this somehow. The next chance for the long-awaited opening of the floodgates comes on Saturday, with a matinee matchup against the Calgary Flames at the BB&T Center.
Flotsam & Jetsam
- The loss was the Panthers' first on the road in regulation time this season.
- Aleksander Barkov returned to the lineup and finished the game with a -2 rating and just one shot on goal. More is needed from 2013's second overall pick.
- Jakub Voracek's goal moved him into a tie with Sidney Crosby for the NHL's scoring lead with 19 points. Voracek posted a career-high 62 last season.
- The Panthers' PK snuffed out two more power plays, running their streak of kills to ten straight.
- Nick Bjugstad's power-play goal was the first the Flyers have allowed on home ice in 2014-15.
- Steve Mason made 34 stops to post his second win in a row. Mason has given up just 4 goals in his last three starts.
- Tomas Kopecky continued his strong play, leading the team with 4 shots, while adding 2 hits and 2 blocks.
- Jussi Jokinen had his five-game scoring streak snapped and finished the game -3. Tough night for Jussi.
- Pay a visit to Broad Street Hockey for more on last night's game and maybe even a bit of brotherly love.