Claude Giroux scored twice and Steve Mason made 38 stops to lead the Philadelphia Flyers past the Florida Panthers, who have forgotten the meaning of the words winning streak, last night at a mostly barren BB&T Center, mostly.
The Panthers actually showed up for the first period for a change and carried the play for the first ten minutes or so, until the zebras got involved, handing Drew Shore a double-minor for high sticking soon followed by a slashing call on Scottie Upshall.
The Cats killed everything off, including a 5-on-3 spell, and managed to get to the dressing room with beleaguered goaltender Dan Ellis unscathed and the game still tied.
Things quickly went to pot in the second, as old Tampa Bay nemesis Vincent Lecavalier scored at the 2:02 mark, thanks in large part to Colby Robak's whiff, quickly followed by Giroux's fiery brace. Sean Couturier dented the twine, snapping a 17-game drought, at 15:03 to make it 4-0 Flyers in a period that seemed to never want to come to an end.
To their credit, Florida shook off the second period flogging and made the game respectable with a pair of goals during the early stages of the final frame.
Erik Gudbranson scored 74 seconds in, from Upshall and Vincent Trocheck, to put an end to Mason's shutout bid. Gudbranson's third of the season was followed up by a pretty goal from Jonathan Huberdeau 4:24 later. Jesse Winchester and Shore combined to set up the tally, which was Huberdeau's ninth of the season and first since January 20th.
The Cats had plenty of chances to cut further into the deficit, including the period's only power play, but could not solve Mason again, despite launching a total of 16 shots at him in the final twenty minutes.
Rookie Tye McGinn's easy tap-in for the game's final goal at 15:06 put the icing on Philly's playoff cake. Lecavalier and Adam Hall picked up the helpers to each finish the tilt with two points.
Flotsam & Jetsam
- It was nice to see Jonathan Huberdeau light the lamp in his first game back after an 11-game absence. Hopefully, he can get another in the final two games to hit double-digits for 2013-14. Flash, it's about time for you to get off the schneid too.
- Vincent Lecavalier's goal was his 20th of the season. It was the thirtenth time he has hit the 20-goal mark in his illustrious career.
- Dan Ellis was the surprise starter as a "sore" Roberto Luongo got the night off. Ellis' struggles in the Florida cage continued as he saw his GAA with the Panthers balloon to 4.80.
- Not sure if this has been duly noted, but Florida's number one line of Nick Bjugstad, Brad Boyes, and Sean Bergenheim has been getting smoked by the opposition a lot lately. The trio was a combined -8 last night.
- Panther-killer Steve Mason raised his personal record against Florida to a sparkling 6-1.
- Frequent-flyer Drew Shore returned to collect his seventh point of the season and went 10 for 17 in the face-off dot. Shore can only be sent down to the AHL one more time before he is eligible for waivers.
- The Cats will have to close out with victories over Toronto and Columbus to hit the 30-win plateau. The Maple Leafs have nothing to play for after getting eliminated last night and the Blue Jackets could wrap up a playoff spot before Saturday's season-fianle, so it's plausible, at least in theory.
- Take a stroll down Broad Street Hockey for more on Philadelphia's clincher.