Coming into tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Sean Bergenheim had not scored a goal since game five of the Panthers 2012 playoff series against the New Jersey Devils. He scored two tonight.
Led by a pair from Bergenheim and 38 saves by Tim Thomas, the Florida Panthers were able to take the first game of a five game home stand, a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. The Panthers handled a red-hot Flyers team that came into tonight’s game winners of six out of their last seven games. The Flyers were also riding a streak of recording points in seven straight games. They had not lost a game in regulation since getting shutout by the Devils on November 7th.
The Panthers won despite being outshot 39-31. Thomas came up huge for Florida weathering multiple barrages from the Flyers. Steve Mason was solid in net for Philadelphia as he stopped 28 of 31 in the losing effort. With the win, the Panthers improved to 7-13-5. They now have 19 points and are tied with the New York Islanders for 13th place in the East. The Flyers dropped to 10-11-2 with the loss.
After a scoreless first period, the Flyers looked primed to take the lead when they found themselves on a 5-on-3 power play in the opening minutes of the second. The Panthers nicely killed off the penalties and just seconds later were able to seize the momentum when Bergenheim squeezed a puck past the post and Mason’s outreached leg. The goal, occurring at 3:35 into the second, was the result of a tenacious effort from Bergenheim. Battling for space in front of the Flyer’s net, he was denied three times by Mason before finally getting the puck across the goal line. The play was vintage 2011-12 Bergenheim as it was an effort reminiscent of the unquenchable work ethic that defined Bergenheim’s first season with the Panthers prior to his playing being diminished by his injury struggles.
Bergenheim was assisted by Dylan Olsen and Jimmy Hayes, both of whom were acquired in the trade that sent Kris Versteeg to the Blackhawks. Olsen, making his Panther debut, had a strong game. In addition to the assist, he logged 19:10 of ice time playing most of the game paired with Erik Gudbranson.
Sean Bergenheim struck again later in the second on a Panther power-play when he tipped in a Marcel Goc wrist shot. Goc and Gudbranson each got an assist on the goal, the third of the season for both players.
The Flyers cut the Panther lead in half on a third period power play when Wayne Simmonds fired a rebound past Thomas for his fifth goal of the season. After the Simmonds goal at 7:06 into the third, the Panthers and Tim Thomas weathered a frantic Flyers offensive to preserve Florida’s one goal lead. Their defensive efforts paid off as they were able to stretch their lead to two goals at 15:52 into the third when Erik Gudbranson fired a slapshot past Mason for his first goal of the season.
Not only was the goal Gudbranson’s first of the season but it was his first in 107 games. His last goal was recorded against the Toronto Maple Leafs all the way back on December 27, 2011. The goal capped off a huge night for Gudbranson who also recorded an assist and submitted an all-around excellent defensive performance. Gudbranson has started firing more pucks on net and has started to get more involved on offense in general so I do not think we will have to wait another 107 games until we see his next goal.
With the win the Panthers continued a recent run of strong play that has seen them go 4-2-1 in the seven games since they snapped a nine game losing streak. They will to try to extend their hot streak on Wednesday when they face the New York Rangers.