Huber-Doh! Flyers Mauled by Young Panther

Huber-Doh! Flyers Mauled by Young Panther

If it’s possible to be both cautiously optimistic while
simultaneously expecting the worst, that range of emotions would probably best
describe the feeling heading into the Flyers’ Thursday night date with the
Florida Panthers. Regardless, lowered expectations will do little to combat the
unpleasant taste that follows a 5-2 loss, especially to an opponent who began the
evening with the fewest wins in the Eastern Conference.

Florida scored the first three goals of the contest during a
two-minute flurry in the opening period and never looked back. Rookie Johnathan
Huberdeau – the third-overall pick of the 2011 draft – keyed the Panthers’
offense, achieving a new career high with four points on two goals and two

Given such basic information, it’s easy to question Peter
Laviolette’s judgment to ride Ilya Bryzgalov for a second day in a row. As
has often been the case in Bryz meltdowns this season however, his teammates didn’t
give him much of a chance. Florida built their 3-0 lead on a wide-open shot from
the slot, a breakaway, and a penalty shot. It would be nice if Bryzgalov would
make a stop every once in awhile when he’s left one-on-one, but that has less
to do with fatigue as much as it’s just one of his shortcomings. Florida went up
4-0 on a power play in the second period, signaling the end of the cosmonaut’s

Disappointing as this loss was, you can’t easily claim it was for
lack of effort. While the Flyers were undoubtedly weary, they had their share
of chances and kept on fighting until the end, but Panthers' netminder Scott Clemmensen was up to the task. Meanwhile, turnovers and defensive breakdowns
proved Philadelphia's undoing, and this time the hole was simply dug too deep.

Not their night. Not surprising, either, given the energy it
took to outlast the Penguins a mere 24 hours earlier. Unfortunately, degree of difficulty doesn’t mean a thing in the standings.

Game Hightlights:

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Ben Simmons, Robert Covington react to Ersan Ilyasova trade

Ben Simmons, Robert Covington react to Ersan Ilyasova trade

On Wednesday, the Sixers traded Ersan Ilyasova to the Hawks in exchange for Tiago Splitter and a 2017 second-round pick, as well as the option to swap 2017 second-round selections (see story).

"I want to thank Ersan Ilyasova for his positive contributions to this organization both on and off the basketball court," president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said in a statement. "Ersan is a true professional whose daily examples of hard work, focus and consistency have helped facilitate the ongoing growth of our program and culture."

The Sixers took to Instagram to express their appreciation for Ilyasova’s leadership. Ilyasova quickly embraced the role of a veteran go-to when he was traded to the Sixers in early November. Both posts below exemplify his team-first mentality.

✊🏼 A true Pro @ersanilyasova7

A post shared by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on

Thanks for being a great teammate @ersanilyasova7. Wishing you the best in ATL

A post shared by Rob Covington (@atf_33) on

Best of NHL: Rickard Rakell, Ducks snap Bruins' win streak at 4

Best of NHL: Rickard Rakell, Ducks snap Bruins' win streak at 4

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Rickard Rakell broke a tie with his second goal with 2:34 to play, and the Anaheim Ducks snapped Boston's four-game winning streak under new coach Bruce Cassidy with a 5-3 victory over the Bruins on Wednesday night.

Rakell also scored in the second period for the Ducks and has 24 goals in his outstanding season. Ondrej Kase, Josh Manson and Andrew Cogliano also scored for Anaheim, and Jonathan Bernier made 26 saves in his first victory since Jan. 23.

Frank Vatrano scored the tying goal in the third period for the Bruins, who hadn't lost since Cassidy replaced Claude Julien on Feb. 7. Defensemen Brandon Carlo and Zdeno Chara scored early goals, and Tuukka Rask stopped 20 shots.

Anaheim beat Boston for the seventh straight time (see full recap).

Rare goal from Russell lifts Oilers over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kris Russell's goal with 7:58 left was his first in more than a year and lifted the Edmonton Oilers over Florida 4-3 on Wednesday night to snap the Panthers' five-game winning streak.

Russell's goal was his first since Feb. 11, 2016, when he played for Calgary. He went goalless in his first 48 games with the Oilers.

Fellow defenseman Oscar Klefbom also scored for Edmonton, as did forwards Zack Kassian and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Connor McDavid, who came into the night leading the NHL scoring race, had an assist on Russell's goal.

Aleksander Barkov, Colton Sceviour and Jonathan Marchessault scored for Florida. Keith Yandle had two assists for the Panthers, giving him 400 points for his career.

Cam Talbot stopped 31 shots for the Oilers, who have won their last eight games at Florida -- last losing on the Panthers' ice in 2002. James Reimer made 31 saves for the Panthers, who just completed a 5-0-0 road trip (see full recap).