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Recap: Flyers tame Panthers in dominating 5-1 win

Breakaway goals, drop back passes and Wayne Simmonds punches: this one had it all.

Kate Frese / SBNation
Kate Frese / SBNation

The Flyers scored four second period goals and cruised to a 5-1 win over the visiting Florida Panthers on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Sean Couturier, Shayne Gostisbehere, Dale Weise, Claude Giroux and Valtteri Filppula scored for the Flyers, who won their second straight home game and improved to 4-2 on the season. Michal Neuvirth was excellent in goal for the Flyers, stopping 40 of 41 shots to grab his first win of the season.

The Flyers shook off a sluggish start following their 8-2 blowout of Washington on Saturday, as a number of early turnovers in their own zone allowed the Panthers to collect six of the first seven shots in the game.

But with the first seven minutes survived, the Flyers’ top line of Sean Couturier, Jake Voracek and Claude Giroux went to work. The trio had a strong shift with controlled zone time and seemed to wake up the rest of the team.

Not long after that Nolan Patrick drew the first penalty of the game—a tripping call against Nick Bjugstad—just under the 12 minute mark. On the ensuing power play the Flyers created a couple of good scoring chances from Wayne Simmonds and Patrick, but veteran Panthers netminder Roberto Luongo was up to the task.

At the other end Michal Neuvirth had a busy first period in his second start of the season. Neuvirth came up with trio of saves following the Flyers power play, stopping Bjugstad, Jared McCann and Ian McCoshen in close within an 18-second span to keep the buzzing Panthers scoreless.

With Aaron Ekblad off for hooking with 6:50 left in the first, the Flyers first power play unit set up a shooting gallery at Luongo. The veteran stopped all four shots the first unit fired on goal and then a fifth from Ivan Provorov as the second unit stepped on.

After 20 minutes the focus was on the two men between the pipes, with Neuvirth and Luogno matching save for save. Both were tested, with the Panthers testing Neuvirth mostly at even strength while the Flyers peppered Luongo with seven shots on the man-advantage.

Andrew MacDonald’s slashing penalty late in the first carried over to the second for 31 seconds. It wasn’t much of a slash on Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau, but officials have still been consistent with that call early in the season.

After killing of the rest of MacDonald’s minor, the Flyers would strike first with a Sean Couturier goal at the 1:05 mark to make it 1-0. Both Jake Voracek and Claude Giroux picked up assists on the goal, with the captain picking his 400th career assist. Couturier showed great hands on top of the Panthers crease, deking Luongo in tight to shove the puck home.

Couturier’s goal continued his strong start to the season, and continued a troubling trend for the visiting Panthers, who haven’t scored first in any game this season.

Florida had a golden chance to tie things up at the 7:07 mark on a two-on-one with Huberdeau passing over to a wide-open Radim Vrbata. But Vrbata was robbed by Neuvirth, who anticipated the pass perfectly and slid across to make the save to keep Florida scoreless.

It would prove to be a big save as Shayne Gostisbehere would make it 2-0 Flyers just 32 seconds later. The third-year defenseman jumped up on the play, took a pass from Wayne Simmonds and beat Luongo with ease for his first goal of the season. Rookie Robert Hagg picked up the secondary assist, marking his first career assist and point in the NHL.

Armed with another power play thanks to a bad penalty by Micheal Haley, Claude Giroux found himself on a breakaway and buried it to stretch the Flyers’ lead to 3-0 at the 13:22 mark of the second.

Valtteri Filppula found the captain streaking down the right side as some Panthers were distracted with a scrum at the other end after Derek MacKenzie accidentally ran into Michael Neuvirth. Giroux calmly sent a quick snap shot through Luongo’s five-hole for his fourth goal of the young season. Gostisbehere would later be given a secondary assists on the goal.

But the Flyers weren’t done yet as Dale Weise would make it 4-0 with 3:44 left in the second following a great sequence from Travis Konecny and Nolan Patrick. Konecny used his speed to get in on a breakaway and was stopped, but Patrick followed up and left a beautiful drop pass to Weise who made no mistake.

It was a dominating performance from the Flyers in the period, scoring four goals (three at even strength, one power play) and hemming the Panthers in their own zone for the bulk of the frame. Florida’s 12 shots were deceiving as only a couple were scoring chances for a team that came in averaging 42 shots per game.

The Flyers’ top line would continue to buzz to start the third period, with Couturier nearly finishing off a nice passing play started by Voracek and Giroux with a tip that Luongo just got enough of to keep out of the net.

The chemistry has developed fast and furious for that trio, who looked dangerous nearly every shift they took in this one.

After carrying play in the second and early in the third, the Flyers spent the rest of the third period killing off Panthers penalties. A two-man advantage for the Panthers for 44 second with less than five minutes left in the third was their best chance to score but Neuvirth was up to the task.

Still down a man, the Flyers would lose the shutout on a Jamie McGinn goal at the 16:10 mark to pull the Panthers within three at 4-1. McGinn got a cross-ice pass from Nick Bjugstad and beat Neuvirth, who didn’t have much of a chance.

With Florida’s net empty with 1:37 left, the Flyers would add an empty net goal to make it 5-1 off a faceoff as Nick Bjugstad won the draw right back into his own net. Valtteri Filppula got credit for the goal, his fourth of the season. There were no assists, though you know you really got the primary helper on this one.

Despite the 5-1 win, the Flyers did lose Wayne Simmonds late in the third period, and he did not return. Shayne Gostisbehere was also hit late on the arm blocking a shot. More to come as we hear about the status of both players.

Next up: Flyers vs. Predators from the Wells Fargo Center at 7pm on NBCSP and on radio at 97.5 The Fanatic.