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Panthers burn Flyers, 4-2, in final game of homestand

The Florida Panthers remain undefeated after beating the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Flyers' Claude Giroux shouts instructions to teammates in the first period against the Panthers.
The Flyers' Claude Giroux shouts instructions to teammates in the first period against the Panthers.Read moreELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer

Flyers coach Alain Vigneault described the Florida Panthers game as “sizzling,” and when they hosted the Panthers on Saturday, the Flyers got burned.

It was a “hard-fought game,” Vigneault said, but the Panthers put the game away with an empty-net goal to go up 4-2. Vigneault said he felt there were a lot of good things, but they also made some mistakes and got sloppy. The Panthers pounced whenever they did.

The Flyers also had to deal with seven penalties to the Panthers four. The players acknowledged that was frustrating, although they also noted one of the referees got hurt, making it harder on the other official.

With the loss, the Flyers ended their home stand with a record of 2-1-1, sending it from a “great homestand” to an “OK homestand,” captain Claude Giroux said.

Flyers play into Panthers’ game

The Flyers knew coming in that the Panthers play a really tight gap, especially in the neutral zone. But that knowledge didn’t help them much at 5-on-5. Other than a few players, like Travis Konecny, who were able to use their quickness to break through, the Flyers struggled to get out of the neutral zone.

The Panthers kept the Flyers off balance and controlled the puck for much of the game at even strength. While the Flyers felt they played a tough game, as soon as they made a mistake, the Panthers were there to capitalize, scoring two goals off of two Flyers turnovers.

“They’re a team that can create offense out of pretty much nothing,” Nate Thompson said.

Although they didn’t spend much time at even strength with 11 penalties called, it was enough time for the Panthers to gain the advantage. Two goals were scored at even strength, which was the difference in the game.

Penalty kill killed

It took one power play without a single shot on goal plus five more power play shots, but Claude Giroux finally found the back of the net, ending the Panthers’ perfect penalty kill record. Coming into the game, they had faced nine power-play units over the course of the season without giving up a goal. The Panthers carried that energy into the first Flyers power play, barely letting the Flyers out of the neutral zone.

The second power play started out differently when Sean Couturier opened with a slap shot straight at the goalie. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped it, but then faced two more shots close enough to have the crowd gasping. Finally, Giroux took aim from above the right face off circle and sent it past Bobrovsky’s right shoulder. Giroux celebrated with a huge fist pump.

However, after the game, Giroux said the power play is still just “OK.” They only scored on one of four power plays.

“We all know we can be better,” Giroux said. “We know we can create better offense.”

Penalty kill kills

Keith Yandle, the former Florida Panther who runs point on the power play, knows you always have to watch out for Cam Atkinson when he’s on the penalty-kill unit you’re facing. However, his former teammates still weren’t ready for Atkinson. On the Panthers’ third power play of the game, Atkinson swiped the puck away and took off down the ice. Bobrovsky was the only one between him and the goal, and he stood no chance. Atkinson easily scored the shorthanded goal, giving the Flyers the lead.

The Flyers’ penalty kill also dominated on the first Panthers power play, clearing the puck five times to easily kill it. They faced a second Panthers power play shortly after on a tripping call that the Flyers fans were especially skeptical about. The Panthers scored five seconds into that one. But after that, the Flyers locked them down again and again despite going on the penalty kill seven times.

However, even with their exceptional play, being on the penalty kill that many times affects the team at even strength.

“They’re going to gain momentum,” Atkinson said. “It kind of messes up rolling the lines. Guys get out of sync and what not.”

What’s next

The Flyers have concluded their home stand and will head to Canada on Monday for their next three games. They start with a contest against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday at 10 p.m. The game will be shown on TNT.