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Flyers vs. Panthers recap: New guy and the old guy team up to give the Flyers a shootout victory

A goal from the Flyers’ newest acquisition and superb goaltending helped the Flyers fight through another otherwise-frustrating game to pick up two huge points.

Kate Frese Photography

The Flyers picked up their second straight win tonight, beating the Florida Panthers by a score of 2-1 in a shootout. Let’s talk about it!

THE IMPORTANT THINGS THAT HAPPENED:

  • No one scored in the first period. There were a lot of power plays! And chances! Good ones! For both teams! But no goals.
  • Then in the second period the Flyers had a power play and there was a goal but the other team got it. The entire power play sequence that led up to this Aaron Ekblad bomb was pretty horrendous, but in particular, Claude Giroux will probably not put these few seconds here on his video résumé.
  • There were no other goals in the second period. Michael Del Zotto and Jaromir Jagr kind of got in a fight which was neat?
  • At this point you probably could feel pretty resigned to the Flyers losing this game, burying their more-or-less-already-dead playoff chances. But about halfway through the third period, the Flyers got some help from none other than their newest player to tie this game up. A superb effort by Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn before him gave Valtteri Filppula a chance to crash the net in front and tap home a Schenn pass to give him his first point in orange and black and to give the Flyers a tie game.
  • The Flyers would nearly take the lead a couple more times in the third period, but it was Florida who’d get the last great chance of regulation-time as Aleksander Barkov swooped in to the high slot and fired a shot to the top-right corner. Luckily, the top-right corner is where Steve Mason’s right hand spends a lot of its spare time.
  • 3-on-3 was fun! It would come and go without any goals scored, but the Flyers tended to get the better of the action, as the Giroux/Voracek combo as well as the Schenn/Filppula combo both put together some near-misses.
  • Then the shootout happened, in which, naturally ... good things happened? We won’t narrate this one, just enjoy for yourself as the Flyers picked up their franchise-record sixth shootout win of the season.

(This is going to be the thing that endears the fanbase to Jordan Weal, isn’t it? Not the overall-solid play of late, the one shootout goal.)

(Hey, game respect game.)

GENERAL THINGS WE NOTICED:

  • For the most part, this game looked ready to unfold the way that probably about a dozen other Flyers games have unfolded this year. The team got out to a very strong start in this game, and were pretty clearly the superior team for the first half or so of the game, probably deserving a better fate than they received on the scoreboard. Then a bad break went their way, the other team would take a lead, and the Flyers would sag for a while en route to what would almost inevitably be a demoralizing loss. The best kind of wins are the ones you’re conditioned to not expect, I say.
  • And the thing that made that all-too-familiar script that much more painful tonight (up until Filppula’s goal) was that it wasn’t just that the Flyers were tallying shots and just-OK chances! They were moving around the offensive zone with the kind of creativity we just don’t see from them much nowadays. Roberto Luongo snuffed out multiple near-misses in the first period. The power play (prior to its awful shift on Florida’s lone goal) came out absolutely blazing in the first period, doing everything but providing the finish. And much of the same took place in the third at evens, well after James Reimer had to come in to follow an injured Luongo. The Flyers ended the night with 49 shots on goal, their second-highest mark of the season, and rest assured that that number is actually a pretty accurate depiction of what they were up to offensively tonight.
  • The other big story from the evening will be Steve Mason, who as you may have heard did not get a contract extension yesterday. While the Flyers were busy putting up a shooting gallery on the Panthers’ netminders, Florida made sure Mason had to earn his way to a victory tonight as well. Which he did, and then some, giving up only that one goal on the Ekblad shorthanded snipe and turning aside every one of Florida’s other 38 attempts (plus two out of three in the shootout). Mason was moving and tracking the puck well, and while he also got bailed out a couple of times by Panthers who just missed open nets, that shouldn’t take away from what was Mason’s second straight excellent outing after basically getting some extended PTO during the month of February. Juuuuuuuust something to watch out for as the season winds down.

WHAT ABOUT THE NEW GUY?

Arguably moreso than the actual outcome of the game, the big focus heading into tonight for the Flyers was how their newest acquisition would fare. And of course, Valtteri Filppula managed to make himself one of the stories of the game anyways, as he’d score the Flyers’ only pre-shootout goal of the contest. But all in all there was a lot to like from the Finnish vet in his first game with the Flyers. With Schenn and Voracek at his wings, Filppula centered what was probably the Flyers’ best line of the evening, even beyond the goal itself. The trio attacked with control of the puck regularly, and the Flyers (via corsica.hockey) were plus-7 in on-ice shot attempts when the three of them were out on the ice together. One game does obviously not a successful trade make, but if Ron Hextall liked Filppula yesterday, he’ll certainly like what he saw today.

WAS MARK STREIT MISSED?

I like to think he was remembered. But no, not really.

WE’RE CONTRACTUALLY OBLIGATED TO MENTION THE STANDINGS, I GUESS:

With this loss, the Flyers allowed the Panthers to collect two points that (for the time being) put them in the East’s final wild card spot, five points ahead of where the Flyers stand with the same number of games played. Depending on what other teams do, the Flyers could end up six points out of the last spot by the time tonight is over, and will need to jump four teams to do it.

Dream big, I guess.

(I wrote that early in the third when I was convinced the Flyers were going to lose. Gotta love this season. Anywho!)

As of this very moment — approximately 10:29 p.m. ET on Thursday night — the Flyers sit two points out of a playoff spot. That number could grow to three or four depending on what the Maple Leafs and Islanders (the latter of whom have one extra game in hand) do before the night is up, as both are playing right now. There are still three teams (Toronto, Florida, and the Islanders) that would need to be jumped for the Flyers to reach the East’s final spot, not to mention Tampa is just a point behind them with another game in hand. We’re still talking about a long shot. But that long shot would have basically disintegrated tonight with a regulation loss to one of the teams they’re chasing, so hey, we’ll take it.

***

Back at it Saturday in Washington. What could go wrong? Go Flyers.

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