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Flyers vs. Panthers recap: Riding the Train to six wins in a row

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Wayne Simmonds’ second consecutive two-goal game, another outstanding showing from Steve Mason, and some last-second heroics upped the Flyers’ win streak to half-a-dozen.

NHL: Florida Panthers at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Over this still-kinda-young Flyers season — which reached the one-third mark with tonight’s game — we’ve had a number of guys who’ve had their sort of 15 minutes of fame as The Man on the team. Travis Konecny’s hot start got him some accolades, Jakub Voracek had a pretty torrid first few weeks as well, Ivan Provorov has been the apple of everyone’s eye for a bit, and of course Claude Giroux had some games where he was the unquestioned team MVP. This team’s had a lot of guys that have, at times, almost single-handedly pulled it to victories.

But through all of that, you could argue that the guy who’s been the steadiest, most consistent force for the orange and black has been Wayne Simmonds, who actually led the team in total scoring coming into tonight’s contest and is, as of now, third in the NHL in goal scoring on the season to date. And Steve Mason, who weathered a particularly awful start to the season, has rebounded in resounding fashion, stealing at least a couple of games for the Flyers in the past few weeks and being their best player since at least Thanksgiving.

And with the Flyers’ sixth straight win behind them, there’s no doubt that those two are the ones driving the train right now. And after they got the team most of the way to a win tonight, Giroux and Voracek were there to finish the job.

For the second straight game, Simmonds potted two goals for the Flyers, and those were the only goals the Flyers would score in regulation as they’d spend a healthy portion of the game chasing the play against the Florida Panthers. But Mason would hold strong, and it was Voracek — off of an outstanding play by Giroux to force a turnover — who would sneak a shot past James Reimer with nine seconds left in the 3-on-3 overtime to cap a 3-2 victory and give the Flyers their sixth straight win.

Before we continue, please scroll down to the very bottom of this post and watch the video of said game-winning goal. Even if you have already seen it, you’ll enjoy it a lot. We’ll wait.

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Did you watch it? Did you enjoy it? Of course you did.

Thank goodness for that moment, though, because truthfully, there was a lot to not like about tonight’s game. The Flyers only played one really solid period, and that was the second one; Florida outshot them 15-6 and 17-4(!) in the other two. There were some questionable ice-time decisions — should Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde really be your second- and third-most-played forwards at 5-on-5? And really, at evens, the only line that looked up to task was Giroux’s, which generated a number of chances even before its last-second heroics.

In all, this game was one of the sloppier moments of the Flyers’ ongoing six-game win streak. There are some things to be learned from a game like this, and if this is what this team’s forward depth will look like for as long as Sean Couturier and Matt Read are both out with injuries, there may be some tough times ahead.

But it’s difficult to complain too much, at least for now, when that six-game winning streak is happening. And again, for that, we can largely thank Simmonds, who scored a fluky sort of goal on a fluttering shot from the blue line and another that was more of a classic Wayne Train goal, on a netfront deflection of a power play shot by Giroux. And there was Mason, who stopped 42 of 44 Florida shots — including a number of real dandies in there — and appears ready to do everything in his power to defend his reigning NHL First Star Of The Week honors.

As fun as it is to have a number of guys on this team who can steal the spotlight for a game or two at a time, the guys who won it for the Flyers tonight are the ones that we knew they’d be leaning on coming into this season. And when they’re able to basically win a game by themselves, no matter how sloppy the rest of the show may be, it can be a blast when all is said and done.

Edmonton and the Fighting McDavids on Thursday. Go Flyers. Here are your highlights.