For the Flyers, these wins are becoming business as usual. One of the league’s top defenses combined with a dynamic offense featuring an ever-growing number of contributors.
At the start of the contest, the Florida Panthers hung with the Flyers, generating some dangerous scoring chances. Sergei Bobrovsky kept the score tied with some quick pad work, just the thing we’ve come to expect from the rookie surprise.
Oddly enough, it was one of his saves that sparked the Flyers offense, as a puck bounced out into the slot and onto the stick of Mike Richards, who dropped it to Andreas Nodl before turning up ice. Nodl found the trailing Richards as he crossed into the offensive zone, and the Flyers captain let go a shot that beat goaltender Scott Clemmensen to give the Flyers the edge.
7-1-1 when scoring first, the Flyers didn’t let up, found their swagger, and continued to dominate.
Momentum on their side, the second half of the period was all Flyers. On one of their typical dominant forechecking shifts, the Briere-Hartnell-Leino line created a turnover and caught some Panthers skaters on their way out of the zone and gave Leino the chance to feed Hartnell for a smooth tip-in goal.
The Panthers coaching staff must have had some strong words for their team during the first intermission, as Florida came out firing again in the second. They were putting bodies on Flyers defensemen, interrupting the breakout and creating offense of their own. But the defenders, backed with a confident Sergei Bobrovsky, were able to recover and keep pucks out.
They got their chance to go back on the offensive when, only a few minutes in, the Panthers took a pair of penalties and found themselves down 5 skaters to 3. With Jeff Carter planted in front – playing his first game since signing an 11 year, $58 million contract extension – Chris Pronger sent a blast from the point and Carter slid it over to Mike Richards for a one timer goal.
Back to 5-on-4, the Flyers power play struck again as Giroux backhanded one over the pad of Clemmensen, trickling towards the goal line when it was interrupted by the stick of a Panthers defender. But a crashing Mike Richards broke it up and, sliding into the crease, sent the puck across the line and gave Giroux his eighth goal of the year. Giroux found his ninth a few minutes later after taking a blocked point shot on a breakaway and beating the lone goaltender with his signature backhand top shelf move.
With a five goal lead, the Flyers had nothing left to do but put it in cruise control and ride out the next 30 minutes or so to another win. And that’s just what they did. More comfortable with sitting back on defense, they let the Panthers offense build up some chances, which they ultimately used to pick up a deflection goal before the end of the second.
Outshot 12 to 5 by the surging Florida offense during the 3rd period, the Flyers managed to hold them to just one more goal, for a final of 5-2. The second goal came as Bobrovsky settled into his net during a Flyers breakout that promptly turned into a Jody Shelley turnover and a chance the other way. Coming out of his net, he misplayed the angle and gave up a far side goal.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Capitalizing on Chances: A staple of winning teams across all sports, the Flyers make their opponents pay when they make mistakes. It starts off with burning them by jumping on the offensive before they can transition to defense, netting the first of the net. Then a turnover at the blue line leading to a 2-on-1 down low for Leino and Hartnell to pick apart the Florida defender. Later on a pair of penalties and a mistimed shot leading to a breakaway. The Flyers took advantage of the majority of chances they had. That may not have been a necessity on a night like this, with their defense able to control Florida the way it did, but in a tighter scoring game, every chance counts, and with the Flyers cashing in, they’re sure to win a few more before this run is over.
Sergei Bobrovsky: Another night, another stellar performance by Bobrovsky. His quick pads and cat like reflexes kept out 34 of 36 Florida shots, a relatively high number, and not one he would have been used to in Russia’s KHL, where he played until this season. But he’s not threatened, and it hardly fazes him seeing this much action in a night. The way he sees it, if he could have stopped 20, why not stop 30 or 40.
Claude Giroux: No longer the only Flyer playing on the cushion of a contract extension, Giroux hasn’t let the extra security slow him down, as he continues to put up the points and pick apart opposing teams. His pair of goals, the Flyers’ fourth and fifth, may not have been essential, but they gave his team the comfort they needed to play the game they did through the third period, sitting on their lead and keeping the Panthers at bay.