Flyers outlast Panthers in shootout after blowing three-goal lead
The Flyers blew a 5-2 lead Tuesday, but escaped with a 6-5 shootout victory over winless Florida.
They didn't give away the Jake Voracek Chia Pets on Tuesday night until after the game, apparently fearful that some fans might toss them onto the ice if things went astray.
Things did fall apart for the home team in the first and third periods, but the Flyers escaped with a 6-5 shootout win over the Florida Panthers at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers blew a 5-2 lead but won it on Jordan Weal's decisive shootout goal and Cal Pickard's save on Frank Vatrano. Jake Voracek also scored in the shootout.
"Obviously it's not the way we want to win a game at home, especially with the lead we had," captain Claude Giroux said. "But hopefully we can build on this. We want to be a tougher team to play at home."
Pickard, who relieved Brian Elliott (four goals on 23 shots) early in the third period and allowed one goal on three shots, faced three shots in the shootout and was beaten just once.
"It's a challenge, for sure," Pickard said of being thrust into the action. "But it's part of being the backup. You're in the lineup and have to be ready when called upon."
The Flyers, now 3-3 overall and 1-2 at home, got a power play as Mike Hoffman was called for tripping Wayne Simmonds with 3:05 left in overtime. Florida coach Bob Boughner was furious with the call, but his team killed the penalty.
That just delayed a fourth straight loss by the winless Panthers (0-2-2).
After an awful first period, the Flyers regrouped and erupted for five second period goals — including two each by Simmonds and Giroux — before fading in the third period.
Tip-in goals by Simmonds and Weal early in the second period made it 2-1, and Giroux converted an Aaron Ekblad turnover into a goal from the slot with 11:10 to go in the stanza to increase the cushion to 3-1.
The Flyers later built a 5-2 lead and appeared on their way to an easy victory.
The operative word is "appeared."
Florida took advantage of some shoddy defense and shaky goaltending as it scored three straight goals and knotted the score at 5-5.
The Panthers got to within 5-3 on Aleksander's Barkov's goal late in the second, ending his team's 0-for-14 power-play drought. Evgeni Dadonov and Barkov (breakaway) made it 5-5 in the first half of the third period.
Dadonov blew past defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and scored from in close with 14:54 left in regulation.
Exit Elliott. Enter Pickard.
Three minutes later, Barkov tied it at 5-5 on a breakaway. That put the Flyers in danger of losing their first three home games for the first time in franchise history.
In the first 12 minutes of the third period, the Flyers played like they did in the opening stanza — totally disorganized.
"The first period we really didn't skate, and in the second period, we started getting our feet and putting ourselves in good position to get our forecheck going," Giroux said. "When we got a chance to score, it was in the back of the net."
The Flyers scored on five of their 11 second-period shots against backup goalie Michael Hutchinson, who made his first appearance of the season.
Florida got to within 3-2 on Vatrano's second goal of the night, a bizarre tally scored after he beat defensemen Travis Sanheim and Radko Gudas (five assists in six games) to a puck that caromed off the back wall. Elliott looked as if he wanted to play the puck, but after it hit the end boards it caromed off the side of the net and took a fortuitous bounce to Vatrano.
Earlier, from a bad angle deep in the left circle, Vatrano beat a screened Elliott to give Florida a 1-0 lead late in the first. The Flyers have allowed the first goal in all six games this season, and they have been outscored, 9-4, in the opening period.
The Panthers outworked the Flyers in the first period and had a 12-5 shots domination.
But the Flyers erupted for five second-period goals.
"Just a great group effort by all our guys," Weal, who had a goal, an assist and the shootout winner, said of the second period. "We had really good zone time and we were making plays, and that's when we're at our best."