Updated: 11:30 p.m.
Sometimes you win ugly in hockey.
And when your team is 0-3, with a discombobulated power play, has fired its coach, torched itself with bad penalties, and yet somehow managed a win … well, Craig Berube will take it.
Thanks to goalie Steve Mason, who was unconscious in net (see story), the Flyers were able to overcome their own shortcomings with a gut-check 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center for “The Chief’s” first NHL victory as a head coach.
“He played great,” Berube said of Mason’s 33 saves. “His composure in net, he looked real solid, right on top of things. Saw all the pucks. Just looked big in net.”
Mason kept the Flyers in the game, helping them erase a four-minute Panthers' power play with a couple of saves and four huge blocked shots from the penalty kill units, which were superb as well.
“It was good -- guys are getting on the same page and Mason making some big saves when we need it,” Braydon Coburn said. “We really needed him to play good. He really stuck out his head for us. That’s been a strong point for us right now.”
Clutching a 2-1 lead that last period, Jay Rosehill picked up a roughing call behind the play. A scrum broke out as Rosehill, headed to box, then turned around and darted across the ice to knock down Tomas Kopeck from behind as teammate Zac Rinaldo was surrounded by Panther jerseys.
Rosehill drew a double minor and 10-minute misconduct.
Along with that, Rinaldo and Kopecky had minors to cancel each other out, leaving the Panthers with a four-minute power play.
That could have been the game right there. Instead, the Flyers rose to the occasion.
“It’s a fine line. You don’t want to be in the box all the time, but at the same time, when he’s surrounded by four other guys, I feel a need to get in there,” Rosehill said.
“If I had to do it over again, I might not have gone in there the same way or I would have tried to take someone with me.”
Berube, a fierce enforcer himself as player, said that turning around when you’re just about to step into the box and picking up those extra minutes were “unacceptable.”
He’s been preaching better team discipline. Yet when a newspaper columnist asked whether Rosehill would be disciplined, Berube fired back, “You want me to spank him? Get lost.”
As bad as that was, Eric Gudbranson’s five-minute boarding of Scott Hartnell later was worse, giving the Flyers a five-minute power play.
The Flyers had three quality chances from Mark Streit, Vinny Lecavalier and Brayden Schenn but no goals. In all, five shots on goalie Jacob Markstrom.
They were 0 for 5 on the power play and are just 2 for 19 on the season.
“Our penalty kill was great,” Hartnell said. “Blocking shots, defensive play … Our power play was awful again, especially our unit.
“We worked to get it into the zone, they pressured us and we were a step behind. We had some shots, but perimeter shots.”
There was a first for the Flyers on the season in this game. Not just scoring two goals, but actually having a 2-0 lead.
Panthers goalie Tim Thomas had trouble with puck caroms off the back boards on both those goals and appeared to injure his groin defending on them, as well, because he left the game after the second goal at 7:31 and never returned.
“They’re lucky goals and that happens,” Berube said.
Jakub Voracek’s shot off the left boards bounced ahead of Thomas’ reach into the slot for Schenn’s easy rebound at 4:49. He now has two goals and three points in four games.
“It’s still early,” he said. “I just want to keep on contributing and get the opportunity to play with Vinny Lecavalier and Jake Voracek right now. You have to make the most of those opportunities and that is what I am trying to do.”
The second goal saw Sean Couturier line one off the boards that had Thomas moving awkwardly. He was well out of position for the crazy carom that ended up on Braydon Coburn’s stick, making it 2-0.
Thomas removed himself from the game for Markstrom.
“Anytime you put pucks on net or shooting the puck, you know things can happen like a bounce, rebound or going off the boards,” Coburn said. “You just have to play the pucks. There is no other way about it.”
Thomas came into this game with a career 8-0 record in Philadelphia with a 1.86 goals-against average and .947 save percentage. So, this was a rather huge loss for the toothless Panthers.
The second period was all Mason with 12 saves among breakdowns with uncontested shots.
“There’s always work to be done and right now it’s a difficult game because there is new stuff being thrown our way because of the coaching change,” Mason said.
“At the same time, our own end is going to take care of itself eventually. Just a matter of keep working at it.”
His pad stop on Shawn Matthias' shorthanded breakaway that period stood out.
“He was on his game,” Matthias said.
What hurt the Flyers in the second was the same thing that harmed them in Montreal -- penalties. They took consecutive ones to wipe out whatever momentum they were generating five-on-five.
Hence, they seemed tired at period’s end when Luke Schenn blocked a shot from Aleksander Barkov, but the puck went onto Brad Boyes’ stick for an easy rebound, setting up a tense final period.
“The players are squeezing their sticks -- everybody can see that,” Berube said. “I really liked our third period. We did a lot of good things without the puck.
“And I thought we did a lot of good things with the puck ... Overall effort, I have no problem with it.”
Ugly or not.