The Florida Panthers were coming back from the Christmas break, looking to extend their win streak to four. Would the Cats prevail against the Flyers tonight?
The Panthers got off to a strong start, early on, pouring pressure down deep in Flyers territory. Their pressure led to an early power play, with Gostisbehere called for interference on Trocheck. And shortly after Shayne’s penalty, Brian Elliot was also called for tripping (on Barkov), sending the Cats to a 5 on 3.
You’d think that with a 5 on 3, the Panthers would run away with this game early on. Unfortunately, they didn’t. The Cats struggled to get their man advantage set up in the Flyers zone, only sending two shots Elliot’s way. Florida failed to convert on their chances during the 5 on 3, and it seemed as if they would struggle to score throughout the game.
But they didn’t! With under seven minutes left in the first, Jared McCann opened up the scoring. McCann dangled his way past Wayne Simmonds, eventually walking his way into the Flyers zone, and snapping a shot just under Elliot’s blocker and in:
The goal would send the Cats to the dressing room, leading 1-0 after a period of play. Florida generated the majority of the scoring chances in the opening frame, only struggling to capitalize on them in the end.
The second period was much like the first, in the sense that Florida were completely dominating the Flyers. The Panthers were giving the Flyers little time and room to generate any scoring chances, forcing them to shoot in odd areas of the ice.
Vincent Trocheck was sent to the box for slashing, which appeared to be a very soft call on the 24-year-old centerman. Luckily for him, the penalty killing unit managed to not only kill off the penalty, but to also contribute towards the scoreboard.
Five minutes after MacKenzie’s goal and the Panthers added a third. Nick Bjugstad fed Huberdeau a pass in the slot, where Johnny turned a little to the right, and quickly sniped his shot top-shelf. The goal would give the Cats a 3-0 lead, as Florida started running away with this game.
Little happened on the Flyers end, as they failed to generate any scoring chances in the Panthers zone. The Panthers would close out the second, like they did with the first, allowing no goals to be scored on their end of the ice. Florida headed to the locker room with a 3-0 lead.
The third period was also started off on the right foot by the Panthers, as they were causing all sorts of problems for the Flyers.
Breakouts were being broken up, odd man rushes were non-existent, and time given for Philly to hold onto the puck was minimal at best. What more could you ask from our Cats? They were playing the perfect period. It seemed as if they would cruise their way to victory, but it didn’t end up that way.
Scott Laughton gave the Flyers some life with six minutes remaining in the game, coming off an odd man rush. The odd man rush all started when Ekblad broke his stick, and the play went back the other way.
Laughton and his teammates skated down the ice in numbers, as Aaron Ekblad chose to go to the bench to receive a stick, later changing his mind in the process. Needless to say, Laughton sniped one over Reimer’s shoulder and in:
Sean Couturier gave the Panthers a little scare at the end, by adding a second goal to the Flyers goal column. What appeared to be Gostisbehere’s goal, was later changed in credit to Couturier. What was once a three-goal lead for the Panthers, suddenly turned into a one-goal match for the Flyers.
Thankfully the Cats held on, and remained victorious in this one. Tonight’s win against the Flyers signaled their fourth win in a row, marking their longest winning streak this year (2017-18 season).
Overall, Florida played amazing in both the first and the second period, but struggled to close out the third with ease. Your Panthers are back in action against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, December 30th @7:00pm.