SUNRISE, Fla. – Center Morgan Frost scored a goal in his NHL debut and was one of the game’s most effective players Tuesday night, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Flyers from sputtering.
Florida scored a pair of bizarre first-period goals, chased Carter Hart in the second period, and skated to a 5-2 win.
Again, the Flyers’ veterans came up empty as the team suffered its fourth straight loss and fell to 4-6-1 on the road.
“The last couple of games we haven’t gotten the result we wanted,” said left winger James van Riemsdyk, who has one goal in his last 12 games and had just one shot in 12 minutes, 56 seconds on Tuesday. “Certainly we made some plays tonight that made it pretty easy for them to get some offense going.”
He was referring to turnovers by Joel Farabee and Sean Couturier that contributed to two Florida goals.
“Those are things I think you can clean up, though,” van Riemsdyk added.
“We’re getting chances, we’re just not scoring, obviously,” said Couturier, who fired a team-high seven shots and won seven of 10 faceoffs. “I think we have to keep playing the same way and just take care of little details. Little mistakes are costing us right now. They’re things we can control.”
Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky made 35 saves, including 14 in the final period, and is now 15-3-1 against his former team.
Mike Hoffman iced the win with an empty-net goal.
Aleksander Barkov, left all alone as he crashed the net, scored on a fat rebound to give Florida a 3-1 lead with 13:14 left in the second period. Barkov put the shot over Hart’s right shoulder for his seventh goal in the last nine games.
Less than four minutes later, the Flyers stood around and watched Barkov as he found Jonathan Huberdeau in the right circle and he connected, top-shelf, to push the Panthers’ lead to 4-1.
Exit Hart, who was pulled from a game for the third time in 13 starts this season.
Enter Brian Elliott.
Frost, showing great hands, cut it to 4-2 with a sensational play. From behind the goal line, the 20-year-old Frost came out front and beat Bobrovsky with a backhander to the short side. He became the 23rd Flyer to score a goal in his NHL debut and the first since Jason Akeson in 2013.
“After the first couple shifts, I kind of got comfortable,” said Frost, who was second on the team with six shots attempts (three on goal). “It makes it a lot easier when you’re playing with guys like” Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny.
On his goal, Frost said, “After it went in, it was a pretty crazy feeling. I was a little shocked at first.”
Two strange first-period goals gave the Panthers a 2-1 advantage.
With Hart crouched low in the nets, Brett Connolly scored from what appeared to be an impossible angle behind the goal line, giving Florida a 2-1 lead with 7:30 left in the opening period.
The puck glanced off Hart’s helmet for Connolly’s eighth goal of the season.
“He banked it off my head,” Hart said. “He saw me leaning a bit forward. Smart play by him. Kind of a dumb play by me to lean that much forward.”
About two minutes earlier, Florida had tied the score at 1 on another odd goal. Colton Sceviour fired a point drive and Flyers winger Andy Andreoff tried to block it with his stick and accidentally tipped it past a startled Hart.
Defenseman Travis Sanheim’s goal had given the Flyers a 1-0 lead with 13:34 left in the first. It gave Sanheim five goals in seven games against Bobrovsky. Amazingly, five of Sanheim’s 13 career goals are against Bobrovsky, a two-time Vezina winner as the league’s top goalie.
A blocked shot went to Sanheim from just above the left circle and he stepped into the loose puck and ripped a slap shot that appeared to hit off Bobrovsky’s stick and went high into the short side of the net.
Bobrovsky, who signed a seven-year, $70 million free-agent contract in the offseason, has struggled in his first season with the Panthers after seven with Columbus. He took a 3.53 goals-against average and .882 save percentage into the game.