Not even 250 miles away from their nail-biting shootout victory in Tampa, the Flyers clawed their way to another exciting finish against the Florida Panthers, coming out on top 4-2.
They took control in the first – maintaining possession of the puck and getting chances to the net. Outshooting the Panthers 18-5, the Flyers’ offense was on display.
Near the mid-point, a pair of goals on consecutive shots – a Mike Richards shot and a Andreas Nodl tip-in of a Danny Briere pass – gave the Flyers a considerable lead and put them in the driver’s seat for the rest of the game.
In the first few minutes of the second, James van Riemsdyk drove home a Danny Briere rebound to put the Flyers up 3-0.
As the second period rolled on, the Flyers started to sit back and give the Panthers space – and they took advantage. A particularly scary moment saw Bobrovsky get caught at the top of his crease while a shot trickled through, leaving Andreas Nodl to make a few saves and keep the puck out of the net.
It wasn’t until the third that Florida broke through, with Rotislav Olesz putting a rebound past Sergei Bobrovsky.
Florida kept coming, took over the game, and forced Laviolette to settle his team down with a timeout. That didn’t stop Florida, though, who continued to push the play.
The Panthers pulled within one after David Booth stole the puck off a blatant Darroll Powe turnover and beat Bobrovsky.
For the last seven and a half minutes of the game, the Flyers simply held on for dear life until Nodl got the puck to Briere for a chance at the empty net to make it 4-2.
Florida outshot the Flyers 19-9 in that third period, completely dominating the play and nearly tying the game on several occasions.
Sergei Bobrovsky was stellar in net, though he was once again denied his shutout thanks to the Flyers’ inability to properly close out a game and play the full 60 minutes – softening up once their lead seems insurmountable.
That’s not the kind of play that wins championships, but the Flyers are getting by with it on a regular basis during the season. Whether this comes back to bite them later in the Spring, or whether their immense talent kicks in when they need it and they find a way to buckle down, we’ll have to wait and see.
But for now, the Flyers keep rolling, take another four points from Florida, and extend their Eastern Conference lead to seven points over the second place Lightning.
Ville sidelined, Zherdev stays out
There was an interesting dynamic coming into this game. Ville Leino sat out with a lower body injury. The catch-all term doesn’t tell much about the nature of his injury, but Paul Holmgren made sure to reassure us that it wasn’t serious.
What makes this more interesting, though, is that his spot in the lineup wasn’t filled by the talented Nikolay Zherdev, but rather by Jody Shelley, who is rarely seen in the roster at the same time as Dan Carcillo.
This decision gives people even more to talk about in regards to Zherdev trade rumors, since he obviously has no place on this team in Laviolette’s eyes.
There haven’t seemed to be many takers yet for Zherdev, so there’s the fear that the Flyers will eventually be forced to dump him off for next to nothing.
If they can find a fitting place for Zherdev and get some return in the form of draft picks, that would both replenish their draft this year – in which they don’t have a single pick until the fourth round – and leave some cap room for the potential resigning of Ville Leino, the ideal situation it would seem.