Florida Panthers sweep their six-game homestand, defeating the Flyers 4-1

SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 4: Goaltender Roberto Luongo
SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 4: Goaltender Roberto Luongo /

After winning their last five games, the Florida Panthers currently sit one point out of the last wild card spot, with three games in hand on both Columbus and Carolina.

The Florida Panthers knew that today’s game against the Flyers was a must-win match. Being a point underneath from the last spot, with three games in hand meant that a win today would likely put them over, considering the outcome of Columbus and Carolina’s game tonight.

The Panthers started the game off well, but so did the Flyers. The Flyers matched the Panthers’ intensity throughout the beginning of the first, giving the home team a hard fought battle. Philadelphia couldn’t stay out of the box however, as Radko Gudas committed an early interference penalty on Jamie McGinn, gifting the Panthers a wonderful power play opportunity.

It didn’t take long for Florida to break the deadlock, as Aleksander Barkov came storming into the Flyers’ zone, courtesy of a Keith Yandle stretch pass. Barkov immediately split the D, pulling off a nifty backhand move on Petr Mrazek to give his side a 1-0 lead:

As the game progressed though, so did the physicality of the match. Philadelphia weren’t letting up in their rough play, and Florida were following along. The Panthers got caught off their game when Jonathan Huberdeau (holding) and Vincent Trocheck (tripping) each got sent to the box.

For the Panthers, they were going against their game plan by taking unnecessary penalties, but were fortunately saved by their strong penalty killing unit. Florida continued to push in the remaining seven minutes of the opening period, searching for a two-goal cushion.

Well that two-goal cushion came from Evgeni Dadonov, as the Russian forward received a beautiful outlet pass from Nick Bjugstad, head faking his way on goal and blasting it home to give the Florida Panthers a 2-0 lead:

Just before the period was about to end, Radko Gudas and Jared McCann each went for a little dance. Before the fight started, Gudas leveled Maxim Mamin onto the ice, which followed with McCann going after him. Jared, who isn’t a big player by any means, threw off his gloves and went straight towards Gudas.

The two fought, and unfortunately… McCann lost. But the fact that McCann took on a bigger player to stick up for his teammate shows the love that each player on this hockey team has for one another. The first period concluded with a score of 2-0 in favor of the Cats.

Florida started the second period on the right foot like the first. Evgeni Dadonov drew a hooking call which sent his side to their 2nd power play. The Cats created some good scoring opportunities from it, but failed to capitalize in the end.

Much of the second period was Florida in play, with the Flyers getting worn down in their own end. Eventually, a third goal came for the Cats in the last couple of minutes. Same culprit as the second goal, Evgeni Dadonov recorded his second of the game by rushing in and sniping a shot top-corner:

Moments later, the Panthers received yet another man advantage. Robert Hagg was called for a slash on Jamie McGinn, giving the Panthers a chance to put the nail in the coffin. Hagg’s penalty would carry over to begin the third with the Panthers leading 3-0 after two periods of play.

23 seconds into the third and Radko Gudas caught Aleksander Barkov up high, heading to the penalty box for a high-sticking call. This gave Florida a brief 5-on-3 advantage, ultimately gifting them a chance to go four up.

The Cats didn’t go four up on the 5-on-3 advantage, but they managed to add a fourth through Jonathan Huberdeau later on. A couple of minutes into the final frame and Jonathan Huberdeau slotted a backhand shot in between Mrazek’s five-hole:

At this point, the game was practically over for the Flyers, and the Panthers would be minutes away from seeing their team logo shown in the last wild card spot. Florida were doing everything they could to run down the clock, while the Flyers looked to snap Roberto Luongo’s shutout.

Unfortunately, they did, and it came in the final few minutes of the third. Travis Konecny pounced on a loose rebound in front, slotting the puck into the empty side. For the Flyers, the goal was too little too late as they had only cut the lead down to three.

The Florida Panthers would close out the game by a final score of 4-1, jumping into the last wild card spot for the first time this season:

Overall, the Panthers played a fantastic game throughout the majority of the match. They capitalized on their scoring chances when it mattered, and they also defended well in their own end. Your Cats are back in action on Tuesday, March 6th @7:30pm against the Tampa Bay Lightning