Panthers withstand barrage; top Flyers 2-1
Despite being outplayed in the first period and drastically outshot during the game, the Panthers found a way to keep winning and extend their current win streak to five games with a nail-biting 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. The Panthers won because they capitalized on their chances, which is something they've been doing regularly as of late. Scott Clemmensen stole the show for the Panthers, however, with a 35 save performance in relief of the red-hot Jose Theodore. Stephen Weiss scored his 18th of the year, Sean Bergenheim netted his 17th, and the Panthers move back up to five points ahead of the Washington Capitals with a game still in hand. We've all heard from players and coaches that the Panthers need to stop watching the standings and take care of their own business, and they have been doing just that, thereby pulling themselves ever closer to their first playoff appearance in over a decade.
Additional coverage at Broad Street Hockey and SB Nation Florida
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- Stephen Weiss (18) 13:04, assisted by Dmitry Kulikov and Brian Campbell2nd
- Sean Bergenheim (17) PP 6:23, assisted by Brian Campbell and Mikael Samuelsson
- Eric Wellwood (4) 7:54, assisted by Kimmo Timonen3rd
- No scoring
- The Panthers started slow, taking some bad penalties and giving Philly all the momentum. Thankfully, it didn't pan out for the Flyers and Weiss potted his 18th off a Philadelphia breakdown on a line change. Lucky period for the Cats.
- Kris Versteeg was pretty quiet again. Not sure if he's still playing hurt, or if he just doesn't have his game legs back yet. He looks a step slower than we're used to, and hopefully it's just fatigue from getting back into game shape.
- Both teams were the victim of some bad bounces as Bergenheim would score off a crazy bounce off the glass, with the puck popping out right past Braydon Coburn and in front of Bryzgalov, right to Bergenheim. The Flyers managed to get a good bounce off the skate of Ed Jovanovski, who tried to block a centering pass from Wellwood but instead directed it past Clemmensen and into his own net. Tit for tat.
- Erik Gudbranson had some rough patches in this one, especially with passing the puck. He's gotta continue to stay calm under pressure and use the glass rather than force things through the middle of the ice. He was a physical presence again, which is great against the always-physical Flyers, but he'll have to focus on smart decisions with the puck first and hitting second.
- Wellwood looks like a pretty good depth player for Philly. He's fast, has a pretty good shot and seems to be around the puck a lot, as a lot of good players are. The Flyers have done a great job grooming their youth to be NHL-ready when the time comes. Hopefully Dale Tallon and the Florida organization start to follow the same grain; it certainly seems like that's the case.
- The Panthers did a great job in the third period pressuring the Flyers through neutral ice, pushing them back or forcing them to make difficult passes or just chop it into the zone. For almost six minutes the Panthers controlled the neutral zone and were fantastic defensively in preserving the lead. That's a much more effective (and less scary) way of holding a lead, rather than the turtling in the defensive zone as we've seen in past scenarios this season.
Surprisingly, Clemmensen. After watching Theodore man the pipes for the last bunch of starts, one would expect Clemmer to come back rusty and unprepared, but that was not the case. He was sterling for the Panthers, stopping several difficult scoring chances and holding down the fort during the Flyers' empty net push at the end. Lids off to Clemmer, who is going to continue to be a difference maker for the Cats this season.
The offense as a whole. 13 shots? That's pretty awful against a team that's stingy defensively but still allows an average of 29 shots a game. Can't be doing that and expect to win too many games.