Florida Panthers 3 (16-16-5), Philadelphia Flyers 2 (15-14-8)
The Philadelphia Flyers were able to mount a small comeback Thursday night against the Florida Panthers by scoring twice in the final seven minutes of the game, but couldn’t get a third, losing to Florida 3-2.
The loss comes a night after every other Metropolitan Division team earned a point and the Flyers were playing their game-in-hand they had on a number of them. While it doesn’t ensure missing playoffs indefinitely, Philly’s lack of pressure in the first two stanzas are a cause for worry.
The Flyers couldn’t try to get into a rhythm in a much worse way by Shayne Gostisbehere taking an interference penalty (a good call) and a Brian Elliott tripping minor (a bad call) in the first two minutes. Gostisbehere blatantly ran into Vincent Trocheck, but Elliott’s “trip” on Aleksander Barkov came on a breakaway as the Finn was already falling.
He was falling before the pokecheck? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/G4YlogDumZ
— Flyers Nation (@FlyersNation) December 29, 2017
It set the Flyers up to kill a 5-on-3 before even a minute of even-strength play. They ended up killing the penalties, but the disadvantages slowed down Philly for the rest of the period.
Five minutes after the power play, Jared McCann scored the Panthers’ first goal on a horrendous defensive play by Andrew MacDonald and Robert Hagg. MacDonald moved to the right side of the ice, despite having a Flyer in a defensive position in front of him, allowing McCann to pivot to the center of the ice in the neutral zone.
Hagg backed up to the left, giving the Panther forward an open look at the net. McCann ripped an undeflected, wobbling shot that beat Brian Elliott.
Philadelphia mustered just five shots on net in the first stanza. The team’s best chance came when Dale Weise found Scott Laughton on a cross-ice pass that Laughton rang off the outside of the post.
Nine minutes into the second period, it looked like the Flyers would have a perfect chance to tie the game when they were awarded a power play. They ended up getting just one shot, iced the puck and let up a goal. By the end of the 20 minutes, the team was down 3-0.
First, Derek MacKenzie was able to chip a puck past Claude Giroux at the point. Colton Sceviour tracked down the puck in the neutral zone and hit MacKenzie with a pass on a 2-on-1 for the 2-0 lead. Later, Jonathan Huberdeau scored a pretty turnaround goal from the left circle that deflected off Radko Gudas’ stick for the third goal.
The Flyers had three power plays in the period, but it took until the third one for the first unit to have any type of controlled pressure. Still, Philly was able to climb back in the shots category with 10 that period.
Faced with the three-goal deficit, the Flyers began applying pressure by activating their defensemen and stacking the top line. It took a while, but the moves paid off some.
With seven minutes left, Scott Laughton scored on a 3-on-2. Panthers blueliner Aaron Ekblad broke his stick on a one-timer, sending Laughton, Michael Raffl and Travis Konecny on an odd-man rush. Raffl dropped the puck back to Laughton, who was the trailer, and blasted the puck past James Reimer.
Scott Laughton gives the Flyers some life! pic.twitter.com/YgODlcLofZ
— Flyers Nation (@FlyersNation) December 29, 2017
With the goalie pulled and two minutes left in the game, Shayne Gostisbehere teed a one-timer, deflected by Sean Couturier to beat Reimer and bring the Flyers within one.
Ivan Provorov got off another strong point shot with 20 seconds left, but Philadelphia couldn’t get another past Reimer.
Besides the scoring, the third period was also Elliott’s best outing. He stopped all eight of the Panthers’ shots and with the Flyers pressing, some were odd-man chances and/or tough saves to make.
On the scoresheet, this one will be a disappointment because the Flyers were close to securing at least one point. In actuality, the team lacked pressure and interest in the first two periods to even look like they were in the game. The 5-on-3 did mess with the club’s rhythm, but they also could have used the successful kill as a reason to be optimistic. Given that every point is valuable at this point of the season, it’s worrisome that that was the effort the team came out with.
In my eyes, Andrew MacDonald has been decent this season. That was not the case in the first period. The former Islander made a weak clearing effort on the first penalty kill, iced the puck on a no-look pass later and played a big part on McCann’s goal. MacDonald settled in by the second period, but the Flyers saw how quickly and easily those performances can burn them.
After a first period that saw the Panthers have three power plays to the Flyers’ one, Philly got three for itself in the second period in what were either 1-0 or 2-0 situations. The team desperately needed some offensive life on the man advantage, but couldn’t get it. The power play has been faltering lately and assistant coach Kris Knoblauch doesn’t seem to be changing much. One has to wonder how much that will continue.
Tonight vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 P.M.