The Florida Panthers tested Steve Mason forty times through the first 65 minutes of action, but could only solve the netminder once before falling to the Philadelphia Flyers by a 2-1 count in a shootout at Wells Fargo Center.
Aaron Ekblad opened the scoring 11:34 into the second period when he picked off a weak breakout pass by Claude Giroux in the neutral zone and then skated through the smaller-sized forward before blasting the puck by Mason for a shorthanded goal.
Roberto Luongo started the game and stopped 13 shots, but didn’t return for the second period, giving way to James Reimer due to a lower-body injury that is expected to keep him out a week.
Reimer kept the Flyers off the board in the second stanza, matching Luongo’s 13 saves to keep the Panthers up by a goal.
Philadelphia tied the game midway through the final frame when Valtteri Filppula, playing his first game with the Flyers, got a step ahead of Nick Bjugstad and stuck his stick out to deflect Brayden Schenn’s centering feed by Reimer. Jakub Voracek drew the second helper on the pretty passing play.
Despite combining for nine shots during overtime, the game went to a shootout where Jordan Weal converted in the first round and Aleksander Barkov tied it in the bottom of the second.
Voracek opened the third round by quickly skating in on Reimer and blowing a shot from the lower right circle through his five-hole to put the Flyers ahead for second time.
Mason denied Jonathan Huberdeau to give the Flyers the coveted bonus point, leaving the Panthers one point behind the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff berth.
Florida returns to Sunrise to open a key three game homestand Saturday night against the Dallas Stars. The Stars gagged up a 3-1 lead last night against the Islanders, putting New York’s other team in the driver’s seat for the second wild card spot.
Lift & Drag
- The Flyers won all three games against the Panthers this season. The Cats did get past regulation twice to pick up two out of a possible six points.
- In addition to notching the first shorthanded goal of his career, Aaron Ekblad registered nine shots and four blocks, both game-highs.
- Ekblad’s goal ended a run of three straight games without Florida scoring in the second or third period. Nice, but still not enough.
- Deadline day acquisition Thomas Vanek made his Panther debut and finished with five shots, a hit and -1 rating in 15:31 of ice time.
- James Reimer finished with 35 stops after coming in at the start of the second period. Reimer made 17 saves in the third to help the Panthers come away with a point.
- Former Bolt Valtteri Filppula’s first game with Philadelphia was a success. Filppula totaled three shots, a hit, and went 8-of-14 on draws. He was one of two Flyers, the other being defenseman Ivan Provorov, to finish with a plus rating.
- For more on the final game of Philly’s season sweep of the Cats, take a digital stroll down Broad Street Hockey.