After a four-day break over Christmas, the Flyers may have still been in vacation mode when they took to the ice to play the Florida Panthers.
The Flyers have a record of 52-29-7-5 against the Panthers and won the last four games between the two teams, including all three games between the two teams last season.
The game started out sloppy for the Flyers leading to two questionable penalty calls. With Shayne Gostisbehere in the box for a soft interference penalty, Brian Elliott got called for a trip on poke check save giving the Panthers a long five-on-three. The Flyers came up with a big kill keeping the game at zero. The sloppy play continued at just before the seven-minute mark when the Flyers took a page out of the ten game losing streak and back up while having three players back they gave up the blue line and Jared McCann sent a harmless looking wrist shot that beat Elliott giving Florida the 1-0 lead.
The Sloppy passing and sluggish play continued in the second. The Flyers seemed to have lead skates and in their sticks while they were on the power play. While having the extra man Claude Giroux made a good play to keep the puck in at the blue line but countered the good keep with a sort pass right to the stick of Colton Sceviour.
The mistake led to a rush the other way. The Flyers continued their mistake-filled play when both Giroux and Jakub Voracek attempted to go for the puck instead of tying up the player on a cross-ice pass from Sceviour to Derek MacKenzie which was easily deposited into the back of the net by Elliott for the 2-0 lead. Unlike the first goal, Elliott had no chance at making the save.
With just under 14 minutes gone in the second, the Flyers once again showed their heads were still not in the game. After losing a faceoff
in their own zone the Flyer forwards started to head up the ice not realizing the puck was under Florida’s control. With the Flyers forwards out of position, Robert Hagg pinched up the boards for a loose puck. Aleksander Barkov made a quick turn in the slot beating Hagg to the puck and chipped it down the boards to Nick Bjugstad. With Scott Laughton filling in for Hagg down low Bjugstad managed to get a pass off to Jonathan Huberdeau who one-timed a shot up over Elliott’s blocker for the 3-0 Florida lead.
After two periods the Flyers managed only 15 shots on goal while having four power plays. The period ended at 3-0 Florida with the Flyers looking
Like they had no chance of breaking the 20 shot mark let alone getting back into the game.
The Third period was turning out to be more of the same as the first two with the Flyers seeming to give the puck away every time they had the puck in their possession. Something clicked around the 12-minute mark of the third. The Flyers seemed to notice they had a game tonight and started to play like they should have played from the opening faceoff.
Travis Konecny picked up the puck at the Flyers blue line leading to a rush up the ice. After crossing the Florida blue line Konecny dished the puck to Michael Raffl who without stopping the puck tipped it back to a breaking Laughton. After receiving the puck Laughton settled the puck on his blade and fired the shot on net beating James Reimer over his left shoulder.
The Flyers seemed to step up the play for the final minutes of the game even passing the shot total for the first two periods combined. With just over two minutes left in the third, the Flyers got within one goal of the Panthers while having the extra attacker with Elliott on the bench. Giroux placed a perfect setup pass for a one-timer by Gostisbehere that was deflected at the last second by Sean Couturier over Reimer’s glove. The comeback would come up short with the Flyers falling 3-2.
The Flyers do not have much time to sit back and relax. They play tomorrow night vs the Tampa Bay Lightning. With a record of 27-7-2, the Lightning leads the league in points. Tampa also has Nikita Kucherov with 52 points and Steven Stamkos 47 with points who are two of the top five scores in the league. Big test coming up for the Flyers who cannot afford show the same effort as they did in tonight’s game.