There was an intriguing game within a game Tuesday _ Ivan Provorov, the Flyers' 19-year-old rookie defenseman, going head-to-head with Jaromir Jagr, Florida's legendary 44-year-old winger.
They battled, had words, and battled some more in the Flyers' 3-2 overtime victory at the Wells Fargo Center.
Provorov had an assist, two hits, and played a team-high 23:23. He also blocked Reilly Smith's shot with 1:41 left in overtime, perhaps saving a goal while the Panthers were on a two on one.
"The impressive thing on that play is the read he made to make that block," coach Dave Hakstol said. "That is just really good hockey sense... I think that Mase (Steve Mason) might have been over on it, but that play that Provy made was potentially a game-saving play right there."
Jagr had no points in 19:48 and managed just one shot.
"He's a great player and he's done a lot for the league," Provorov said. "It was a fun night playing against him."
"Unbelievable, a 19-year-old kid going against Jaromir Jagr," said Wayne Simmonds, who keyed the win with a pair of goals (see story). "I think he did a pretty good job. He has done a great job all year long and he is only going to get better. If you watch him play, he is getting better and better, not just every game, but every shift."
Andrew MacDonald praised Provorov, his defensive partner recently, for his "poise with the puck, and not just for a 19 year old, but for any aged player. Defensively he always seems to be in the right positions and he communicates well. We were fortunate to have some time together in camp, and a few games. I feel like we picked up where we left off the past few games."
Provorov, who has three goals and nine assists in 28 games, said he is feeling "way more comfortable" than he did earlier in the season. "It took a little bit to get going, but now I'm playing my game."
Having played against a fading superstar, Jagr, Provorov will now have a bigger challenge Thursday, facing blossoming superstar Connor McDavid and visiting Edmonton.
Breakaways. The Flyers won despite being outshot 44-25. Florida had an 85-51 domination in shot attempts. Oddly, the Flyers are 7-3-2 in games in which they've been outshot.....Steve Mason recorded his 88th win as a Flyer, moving him past Pelle Lindbergh into sixth in franchise history.....In his last five games, Mason had a 1.74 GAA and .947 save percentage.....Mason on the team's six-game winning streak: "I like to think of it as six straight for the team. I've said it numerous times, I want to be playing a lot of hockey. This is the position I am used to being in and where I am most comfortable. I just have to keep continuing to put my work in and be ready."