SUNRISE, Fla. — In their low-scoring, high-intensity rematch with the Florida Panthers, the Flyers called upon goaltender Martin Jones to keep them in the game.
When the Flyers conceded high-danger chances in their 2-1 overtime loss Wednesday night, Jones was there to bail out his skaters.
In the second period, Florida center Sam Reinhart had a wide-open net to shoot the puck with his team down by a goal. However, Jones struck his stick in the trajectory of the puck, getting enough of it to deflect it wide and keep Reinhart from capitalizing on a quality opportunity.
“You’re just kind of in compete mode there,” said Jones, who had 43 saves. “I just pushed across. He had pretty good patience and just kind of kept holding it. Threw the stick up there and got a little lucky.”
Even when the Panthers made a last-ditch effort on the power play after Ivan Provorov was called for cross-checking, Jones stood tall.
However, Jones couldn’t do it all alone, and defenseman Aaron Ekblad managed to beat Jones in the overtime period and secure a Panthers victory.
Bucking the trend
Through the first 16 games of their season, the Panthers had only been held scoreless through two periods once, the first time coming in their loss to the New York Rangers on Nov. 8. That changed, however, in the Panthers’ second showdown of the season against the Flyers, when they hadn’t found the score sheet through the first 40 minutes.
Their lack of scoring wasn’t the result of a lack of effort. The Panthers managed to generate their fair share of odd-man rushes, but the bottom line in the Flyers’ success through two periods was the strong play of Jones. The Flyers’ offseason addition in net denied all 26 of the Panthers’ shots on goal through the first two periods. Jones had help in front of him, too — through two periods, the Panthers had a 70% Corsi For percentage, which indicates their strong offensive zone possession, but the Flyers blocked 16 of the Panthers’ shots on net.
“There’s no doubt they were going to get some ‘A’ looks, and they did,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said of the Panthers. “But guys in front of Jonesy played hard tonight. I know everybody was trying to do the right thing.”
The Flyers couldn’t keep the Panthers off the score sheet forever, and they capitalized early in the third period when Sam Bennett scored on a power play to tie the score at 1.
Frost flashes on defense
With centers Kevin Hayes (abdomen) and Derick Brassard (lower body) out with injuries, the Flyers were forced to recall 2017 first-round pick Morgan Frost from the Phantoms the morning of their game against the Panthers. With his call-up, Frost would make his 2021-22 debut with the Flyers in the same arena where he scored his first NHL goal on Nov. 19, 2019. But this time, it was his defensive skills that showed promise.
Roughly halfway through the second period, Frost knocked Ekblad off the puck behind the Panthers’ net, prying the puck away from the possession of the Panthers. Frost then made a pass to Joel Farabee on the edge of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s crease from behind the net in an effort to set up Farabee for a goal. Jonathan Huberdeau ultimately tipped the puck away from Farabee, but the play was a smart one from Frost nonetheless. Through three periods, Frost finished with one shot on goal and three hits.
“I think he’s just a little more aware, a little more urgent in the D-zone, and that definitely helps break the puck out,” Farabee said of Frost. “And then when you get in the offensive zone, obviously he’s really creative and can do a lot of things with the puck. So I think once he figures out that defensive part of the game, he’s going to really take off.”
Jones lends a helping hand
Although winger Travis Konecny and Provorov earned assists on Farabee’s goal that put the Flyers up 1-0 less than eight minutes into the first period, Jones’ sharp start to the game was the reason the Flyers were able to get on the board first. The Panthers established dominance in the territorial game early, coming out with a 6-1 edge in shots through 5½ minutes, but Jones was in perfection position to turn each one aside.
On the Panthers’ possession just moments before the Farabee goal, a two-on-one rush developed between Huberdeau and Bennett after Bennett picked off a Provorov backhand in the Flyers’ offensive zone. As Huberdeau came through the Panthers’ offensive zone with the puck, Provorov took away the passing lane and Jones made the stop on Huberdeau’s shot. Off the rebound from Jones’ pads, a Konecny stretch pass sprung Farabee and set up his breakaway goal.
“It’s always nice playing for [Jones],” Konecny said. “He always gives a great effort in the net. He’s a great guy, so guys love giving that effort for him.”
After back-to-back games in Florida, the Flyers return home for Friday’s second meeting of the season with the Carolina Hurricanes at 3:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Philadelphia).