Following three consecutive defeats for the struggling Florida Panthers, the desperate Cats arrived in Philadelphia with hopes of securing their first victory in 2018.
With James Reimer experiencing early-season struggles, head coach Bob Boughner called upon third-string netminder Michael Hutchinson for the start. How would the hopeful Cats fare in Hutchinson’s Panther debut against the dynamic Philadelphia Flyers on the road?
The game commenced with Florida dominating play against the home team. Several gorgeous chances were generated by FLA’s first two lines, but the Cats couldn’t capitalize on any scoring opportunities early on.
Following a successfully killed penalty and an unsuccessful power-play effort, the Cats would eventually strike first blood.
The first period would conclude with the Cats maintaining a one-goal lead against the offensively potent Flyers.
The second period of play would feature significantly more offense, particularly from the Philadelphia Flyers.
Michael Hutchinson’s bid for a shutout was snapped, courtesy of power forward Wayne Simmonds, who scored on a miraculous redirection in front of goal (1-1). The Flyers would continually apply pressure in the offensive zone, eventually resulting in another goal.
Florida lost momentum momentarily but were generously gifted a power-play opportunity. However, the Cats couldn’t cash in on the man advantage for the 14th consecutive time.
The costly mistakes piled on for the Cats, as the Flyers extended their lead (3-1 PHI). Aaron Ekblad’s egregious turnover in the defensive zone was stolen easily by Flyer captain Claude Giroux, who snapped a quick snap shot past Michael Hutchinson.
Despite allowing three unanswered goals, the Cats weren’t prepared to quit.
The Panthers sliced the Flyers’ lead in half, as Frank Vatrano recorded his second goal of the night (3-2 PHI).
Vatrano blazed through the Flyers’ defensive zone, beating everyone to the puck, and snapped a shot past Brian Elliot. However, the Cats couldn’t quite minimize their lapses and poor play defensively, as the Flyers took a clear advantage.
With the Flyers on an odd-man rush, Wayne Simmonds registered his second of the game, beating Hutchinson with the backhand on a partial breakaway opportunity (4-2 PHI).
The defensive breakdowns were a recurring theme, as Giroux potted his second of the game, extending the Flyers lead to three (5-2 PHI).
The Cats were trailing by three goals, with all hope disappearing quickly. However, things started turning in the Cats’ favor all of a sudden.
The Panthers were given another opportunity on the man advantage near the conclusion of the second period. On their 15th power-play of the year, the Cats finally capitalized, courtesy of budding superstar and captain Aleksander Barkov (5-3 PHI).
The second period ultimately concluded with the Flyers carrying a two-goal cushion into the dressing room. The Cats were severely outplayed in the second, as Hutchinson surrendered a whopping five goals in 20 minutes of play.
The third period commenced with the Cats taking full control. Hutchinson kept the Panthers alive, making numerous highlight-reel saves within the third.
Following an Aaron Ekblad shot which dinged off the post, the Cats evened up the score, courtesy of Aleksander Barkov once again.
More from Panthers News
- Florida Panthers Rewarded With 12-Game National Broadcast Schedule For 2023-24 Season
- Florida Panthers Outside of Favorites in Preseason Stanley Cup Betting Odds
- Florida Panthers re-sign defensemen Casey Fitzgerald and John Ludvig
- Evan Rodrigues Signing Was a Steal for the Florida Panthers
- An epic run to remember for the Florida Panthers
Barky streaked in on a breakaway attempt, and wound up finishing beautifully on the backhand (5-5). With the game tied, the Flyers picked up the pressure offensively, but Michael Hutchinson stood tall, closing the door in the third period of play.
The game’s intensity gradually increased, as both sides were fairly chippy, especially with the Flyers blatantly cross-checking Barkov in the third period.
The third period would conclude with the score tied at five apiece, as both teams earned a hard-fought point.
The overtime frame was completely dominated by the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers directed a multitude of high-quality shots, but Hutchison denied all shot attempts in overtime.
Even with a two-minute four-on-three power-play, the Flyers failed to capitalize. This thrilling affair ultimately required a shootout.
Jakub Voracek was called upon as PHI’s first shooter and immediately handed the Flyers the advantage by finishing on the backhand (1-0 PHI).
Florida’s first shooter, Vincent Trocheck, was unable to finish. Fortunately, Claude Giroux was stopped by Hutchinson, and Aleksander Barkov subsequently tied the score in the shootout on a miraculous backhander (1-1).
Although, in the third round, Jordan Weal’s five-hole goal proved the difference, as Frank Vatrano was denied with ease (2-1 PHI).
The Panthers sustained a fourth consecutive loss, but on the bright side (if there is one), earned a meaningful point on the road against a playoff contending team.