James van Riemsdyk set the tone early when he outmuscled Anton Stralman in front to tap in the rebound of Matt Niskanen’s hard shot to put the Flyers up 4:24 into the first. Travis Sanheim drew the second assist on the goal that came 12 seconds after a holding penalty to Josh Brown expired.
Niskanen and van Riemsdyk combined to set up Tyler Pitlick’s sixth of the season at the 17:37. Pitlick came down the right wing and slung a wrist shot over Sergei Bobrovsky’s shoulder. A well-placed shot by Pitlick, but Bob should have played this one better. On his knees too early (and needlessly) yet again...
Bobrovsky would give up a juicy rebound of a Michael Raffl shot and Nicolas Aube-Kubel put it home to give Philadelphia a three-goal lead just 55 seconds after the Pitlick goal. Yikes!
The Panthers would return for the second period with Sam Montembeault in net. Motembeault would stop the bleeding for most of the frame, but would not get any help from his offense.
With 1:02 left in the period, van Riemsdyk found Scott Laughton with a nice pass from the side of the net and Laughton would make no mistake to give the visitors a huge four-goal advantage.
Jonathan Huberdeau finally got the Cats on the board 33 seconds into the third, when he finished off a crisp back-door crossing pass from MacKenzie Weegar. Aaron Ekblad picked up the secondary assist on Huberdeau’s 20th of the campaign.
The Panthers pulled closer when Aleksander Barkov took a pass from Keith Yandle, after Stralman settled the puck down and fed his partner, and snapped a quick wrister over Carter Hart’s shoulder from the left circle at the 4:56 mark. The goal was Barkov’s 152nd tying him with Pavel Bure for third in Panthers history behind Scott Mellanby (157) and Olli Jokinen (188).
A little over a minute later, Hart would absolutely rob Evgenii Dadonov and then proceed shut door the rest of the way.
Sean Courtier provided the back-breaker at 14:52 (thanks to a ghastly turnover by Vincent Trocheck) and Robert Hagg provided the icing on the cake with a power-play goal with 28 ticks left on the clock.
Not sure how you play so badly in a big game, on home ice, in your one appearance on national television, but leave it to the Panthers to find a way.
Florida is 2-5-1 since the All-Star Game and 0-3 at the BB&T Center including last night’s embarrassing loss and an equally bad 7-2 defeat at the hands of the road weary Vegas Golden Knights,
The only good to come out of last night was Dallas winning 3-2 in Toronto, which kept the Panthers two points behind the Maple Leafs with a game in hand.
Next up, the Edmonton Oilers for a Saturday matinee affair. The Panthers need to turn the tide.
Lift & Drag
- Jonathan Huberdeau hit the 20-goal mark, joining Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov, for the third straight season and for the fourth time in his career.
- Carter Hart stopped 26 shots to pick his first road win since he beat the Boston Bruins on November 10.
- Sergei Bobrovsky didn’t return after the first period after allowing three goals on nine shots. The $10 million man is 0-4-1 in his past five starts. Sam Montembeault stopped 16 of 19 shots in relief.
- Flyers defenseman Justin Braun tied his NHL career high with three assists. Matt Niskanen, James van Riemsdyk and Michael Raffl each finished the tilt with two helpers.
- Noel Acciari departed the game 6:04 into the second period with an upper-body injury, breaking up the helicopter line which dominated New Jersey.
- For more on the ugly rubber match between the Cats and Flyers, visit Broad Street Hockey.