We’re back at it again, friends! The Flyers are still hanging out in Florida and spent this fine evening in Sunrise squaring off against the Panthers. We had a very exciting game two nights ago in Tampa and were hoping for a repeat of the fun stuff, but without all of that angst.
And we were into the first few minutes of the game and hearing them on the broadcast hit on their key talking points—Gostisbehere back in the arena he used to go to as a kid, and Jordan Weal being back in the lineup—when the two of them combined for a Good Thing. It was the Flyers on the rush, Weal controlling their entry into the zone, and feeding the puck to Gostisbehere as they crashed the net, who zipped it home.
What a shot from Ghost! pic.twitter.com/lfKaq9Obm8— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 30, 2018
The Flyers controlled play in the following minutes, and kept coming with more push, punctuated by a great chance on a two-on-one for Jake Voracek, who saw his shot blocked at the last second. It took until just under four minutes in for Carter Hart to even see his first shot of the game—from Jonathan Huberdeau—but he handled it well. So that one was at least out of the way.
The Flyers got themselves a bit more pressure but things turned in Florida’s favor insider the seven minute mark, and the Barkov line get set in the zone and got to cycling while the Flyers failed to clear the puck. But with a couple of nifty saves by Hart, the Flyers were able to regain their bearings and break out of the zone, escape that Panthers push without incident.
We were just about to start talking about how things were getting a little dull for a bit there, and perhaps we should have spoken too soon. Because Travis Konecny was whistled for goaltender interference and the Panthers were sent to the power play. To let us look at their second ranked power play in the league. What could possibly go wrong?
They got off to a good start, with a shorthanded rush for Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, and then a nice clear by Radko Gudas, and it looked like they might be finding a way to frustrate them.
And then Dale Weise took a tripping penalty.
So we went to the 5-on-3 and the Panthers were able to get cycling, but couldn’t quite close on anything. And then a clear by Couturier as the first penalty expired got them some breathing room before they had to kill the rest of the 4-on-5.
And guess what. They did it! The Panthers got back to cycling but the Flyers did well to seal off the crease and prevent them form getting anything through. And the penalties were killed. Imagine that.
The Flyers got themselves another couple of chances in the last few minutes of the period, but the story of the end of the period was the Flyers turning the puck over and very nearly getting burned for it. It took Hart holding steady in the face of the barrage, and a nice bit of defensive effort in the crease by Wayne Simmonds and Michael Raffl, and again the Flyers weathered the storm.
AFTER ONE: Flyers 1, Panthers 0
The Flyers came out for the second period a little flat and promptly got themselves hemmed into their own end and into a bit of trouble. But it was Hart again who bailed them out, stopping Malgin point blank after he was left all alone in the slot. Whew.
Hart's biggest save of the game thus far. pic.twitter.com/bLsFyf1eYX— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 30, 2018
The Flyers would be the beneficiaries of some extended zone time over the next few minutes, and particularly strong shifts by the Giroux line and the Weal line had the Flyers knocking on the door, but they just couldn’t seem to close on anything before the Panthers got their bearings again. And back to run and gun we went, broken up by bits of chipping the puck around the neutral zone. Which was decidedly less fun. Alas.
The Panthers got a bit of time in the offensive zone but, you guessed it, Hart had their number and helped his team hold onto the lead. A turnover in the defensive zone opened the Panthers up for a great chance but found it stopped. Does this all sound familiar? We’re going through cycles, here.
And, oh hey, there was another nice chance on the rush for Weal. He’s been pretty good tonight, huh?
Anyway, actually yeah we’re still talking about Weal. Inside the last minute and a half of play, it was his line and Giroux’s that were both able to register quality chances before we hit the second intermission, but still they couldn’t get another past James Reimer. No changes on the board, folks.
AFTER TWO: Flyers 1, Panthers 0
We’re back for the third period and somehow we’re down to one referee! We’re rolling with one of them and two linesmen! It’s getting weird out here, folks!
We’ve also got quite a bit of jump happening on both sides as everybody’s positively flying. We had a great chance for the Flyers that was broken up and then immediately turned into a 2-on-1 for the Panthers that the Flyers had to rush to break up (and were successful in doing, thanks to a diving poke check by Giroux). It turned into a scramble around the net but Hart was able to track the puck and neutralize the pressure.
And would you look at that! The single ref has evened things up! The Flyers get a power play after a delay of game penalty! They immediately got to work and were able to generate a scramble in front the of the net for a close chance, but the net being knocked off its moorings drew a stoppage of play. The rest of the power play didn’t yield nearly the same pressure—they gave up a shorthanded rush which saw its shot blocked by Gostisbehere, and when they were finally able to get the puck back into the zone, they had it tied up behind the net for a stretch, before getting it out front to Ivan Provorov for a shot. And then… that was kind of it.
Back at 5-on-5 we’re right back at both teams doing All Of The Speed and generating chances on the rush. We’re nervous but it’s a little more fun, at least? Did we ask for this?
Oh, and we’re back at two refs again.
And things got a little dicey for a minute there as the Barkov line again got to work in the offensive zone and had the Flyers scrambling. It took some more good work from Hart and an excellent clear by Gudas in the crease to keep the Flyers in the lead, but it wasn’t pretty for a bit there.
But the Flyers came right back with a chance on the rush and while they couldn’t close on that one, Travis Sanheim drew a penalty and sent the Flyers back to the power play. Where they didn’t do a whole lot. There was another shorthanded chance given up, and chance for Oskar Lindblom where he found himself robbed. And again they came out without a tally.
Balance was restored again as van Riemsdyk was called for hooking and the Panthers were given another chance to even things up. And, well, they did exactly that. With a bit of quick puck movement in the slot, Mike Hoffman was opened up for a great chance, and he didn’t miss. Not much Hart could do on that one. And we’re tied again.
The intensity’s up and both sides are buzzing. We’re zipping through the neutral zone. We’re generating on the rush. We’re crashing the net. And in the end it was the Panthers who were able to capitalize on one of those chances with more of that quick passing by the Barkov line. And Huberdeau got his team the lead.
With a minute left Hart was pulled and while the Flyers struggled to get set, in the final seconds the Flyers had the chance at something on a scramble in front, but Reimer made the save. They took the timeout with 6.2 seconds left, hoping for one last chance. They executed their play perfectly, with Couturier winning the faceoff, getting the puck to Gostisbehere to feed to Giroux for the one-timer, but Reimer stopped it. And with one more shot in the last second, the final buzzer sounded, and the Flyers went off with the loss.
FINAL: Panthers 2, Flyers 1