Instant Replay: Panthers 3, Flyers 1

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Instant Replay: Panthers 3, Flyers 1

BOX SCORE

SUNRISE, Fla. -- All point streaks have to come to an end at some point.

And the Flyers' seven-game point streak (6-0-1) ended Monday night here in overcast but warm South Florida.

Craig Berube’s team lacked for energy and seemed to be second on the puck the entire night, expending too much time in its own end.

Florida looked, at times, on a perpetual power play as 39-year-old goalie Tim Thomas looked like he was going to get his first shutout of the season during a 3-1 victory at BB&T Center.

The Flyers came into Monday undefeated in their last five games in this arena, but they simply didn’t look very sharp with the puck, especially passing it.

They missed a ton of shots on Thomas through 40 minutes and squandered a critical five-on-three power play that would give way to two Panther goals. Thomas had 38 saves in the game.

Florida’s difference maker in this one was Sean Bergenheim. He scored Florida’s first two goals. His first goal saw him simply outwork the Flyers behind the net, grab a puck off Jay Rosehill, then get two chances off a wraparound rebound.

Bergenheim then had a nifty redirect in the paint during a Panthers' power play off a shot from Marcel Goc to make it 2-0.

Wayne Simmonds scored on a power play rebound at 7:06 to make it a one-goal game and that seemed to give the Flyers some juice. Though they carried the play the rest of the way, Erik Gudbranson sealed it late with an odd deflected goal.

Last time
So when did the Flyers last trail 2-0 in a game? That would be Nov. 7 at Wells Fargo Center when they lost 3-0 to New Jersey. The Devils made it 2-0 at 3:01 of the third period. That game saw the Flyers hold a team meeting after the game. A day later, club chairman Ed Snider said the effort was “pathetic.” Next game, the Flyers defeated Edmonton to begin their point streak.

Chances
Simmonds couldn’t lift a shot over a prone Thomas in the first period and shot it off the goalie's helmet. Minutes later, Gudbranson had a diving breakup of Matt Read’s semi-breakaway deep in Florida’s zone. Jakub Voracek flubbed his shot late in the second period on a partial open net. Sean Couturier, who had zero shots through two periods, put one off Thomas’ pad late in the third that could have caught the inside of the post but missed.

Long time, no score
Gudbranson had not scored a goal in 100 games. Bergenheim had not scored a goal since Game 6 of Florida's playoff series vs. the Devils in 2011-12. He had been injured this year, as well.

The goalies
Steve Mason had a nice save on Jonathan Huberdeau’s deflection in the crease during the first period. Thomas was very strong through two periods but benefited from eight blocked shots and a number of botched shots by the Flyers. Thomas had a nice glove save on Zac Rinaldo from the left circle in the third period.

Special teams
The Flyers had a great chance on their only power play of the opening period with Simmonds trying to convert a cross-crease pass from Claude Giroux for a tip-in attempt. Simmonds didn’t get the puck fully on his stick and the shot was wide. The Flyers were 1 for 4 on the power play in the game. Florida was 1 for 2.

Five-on-three
The Flyers failed to take advantage of such a situation early in the second period, although they had three shots during the two-man advantage. Thomas had good stops on Vinny Lecavalier and Kimmo Timonen. Giroux tried a stuffer but Thomas had the left post locked up with his pad. Overall, there were too many passes during that power play. Not scoring was critical, too, because the kill gave Florida momentum and the Panthers scored off the PK on Bergenheim’s first goal.

Fights
Perhaps the best bout of the season -- longest, too -- between Florida’s Krys Barch and Rosehill with six minutes left. Give the victory to Rosehill.

Scratches
Same as usual. Defensemen Hal Gill (eight games) and Andrej Meszaros (eight games), plus forward Michael Raffl (five games).

Loose pucks
The Flyers will practice Tuesday afternoon in Tampa Bay. The team will hold a media availability at noon for Lecavalier’s return. A large turnout of media is expected. … The Flyers will return home after the Bolts’ game in time for Thanksgiving, then welcome Winnipeg for Black Friday’s rare 11:30 a.m. matinee at Wells Fargo Center.

Flyers focused on actual game instead of Stadium Series event

Flyers focused on actual game instead of Stadium Series event

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The toughest challenge for the Flyers this weekend might be themselves.

They’re playing the Pittsburgh Penguins outdoors on Saturday as part of the NHL’s Stadium Series event. That should be a big deal.

Yet, given their circumstances right now, how can they possibly enjoy the moment?

Maybe had this game been played in early January, before the team hit a crisis point in the standings, and was winning, it would be easier to relax.

The fact is, the Flyers have lost seven of their last 10 games, are drifting as the 11th team in the Eastern Conference, and the second wild card they held for so long seems far from their reach.

Tough to have fun and soak up the atmosphere when there’s so much pressure to start making up ground in the playoff hunt.

“Yeah, we’re there to have two points,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said Thursday. “If this was earlier in the season, we could take it in a bit more, but it’s all business for us right now. It’s just playing.”

That attitude extends right up to coach Dave Hakstol, who didn’t break a smile when talking about what’s really important here.

His team is desperate for points. There are 22 games left in the regular season and 19 are against Eastern Conference opponents.

The Flyers need to win a bunch of games and get hot like they did last season in March if they are going to recapture a wild-card berth.

“Honestly, it’s business first,” Hakstol said. “There is something to the event and certainly something important with family and the type of event it is. But, let’s be honest. Right now, it’s business first. That’s what our focus will be.

“Points. Simple as that. It’s two points. We need the two points and it’s a road game and it happens to be in an event-type situation.

“So we’ve got to make sure we handle all of that in terms of our preparation. But the bottom line is it comes down to the two points that are at stake on Saturday night.”

Michal Neuvirth will make his sixth consecutive start in goal for the Flyers. He was a backup to Semyon Varlamov at Heinz Field during the 2011 Winter Classic as a member of the Washington Capitals against Pittsburgh.

“We’ve got to focus on the game,” Neuvirth said. “There is going to be a lot of distractions. Lot of families and friends in town. But we’re gonna go there and it’s all about business and trying to get the two points.”

Hakstol is only slightly concerned about the hype taking away from the players’ focus. If the Flyers were coming into this game on a win streak, he and his players wouldn’t be quite as uptight as they are right now.

You can cut the tension in the Flyers' dressing room these days with a skate blade.

“You need a little mental attention to detail there,” Hakstol said. “That’s what it is. We’re in that mold. I don’t think that’s a big hump to overcome. I think we’ll be OK.”

Heinz Field holds 68,000 people. The NHL expects 60,000 in attendance. Regardless, it will be the largest crowd ever to witness a Flyers game.

“It’s more exciting and a must-win for us,” said Michael Raffl, who played outdoors once in Europe. “A huge game no matter where we would have played it. We could play it at Skate Zone and we’d be excited.”

Giroux said it will be “weird” being on the ice because his past experiences in outdoor games saw him drown out the fans as much as possible. Yet he admitted the sheer number of fans this time might make that difficult to do.

“It’s pretty exciting to play in the Steelers' stadium,” he said. “Playing against Pittsburgh, it should be a great game.”

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane scored three goals for his third career hat trick to lead the surging Chicago Blackhawks past the Arizona Coyotes 6-3 on Thursday night for their third straight win and eighth in nine games.

Kane has 23 goals to lead Chicago, which closed within three points behind first-place Minnesota in the Central Division and Western Conference.

Rookies Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman each had a goal and assist. Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival scored his first goal of the season in his first game since Jan. 15.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews added two assists to extend his points scoring streak to five games and increase his output to 22 points in his past 13.

Jakob Chychrun, Ryan White and Radim Vrbata scored for the Coyotes. Chychrun and Vrbata each scored for the second straight game (see full recap).

Rangers outlast Maple Leafs in shootout
TORONTO -- Mika Zibanejad scored the shootout winner and the New York Rangers continued a strong February with a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves and J.T. Miller scored the game-tying goal in the third period for the Rangers, who improved to 8-1-1 this month.

New York moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division with 80 points.

Connor Brown scored for Toronto, which fell to 1-7 in shootouts this season. Frederik Andersen had a stellar performance in defeat with 37 saves.

The Leafs hold the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division (68 points), two points back of Ottawa (70) and four back of Montreal (see full recap).

Islanders shut out Canadiens
MONTREAL -- Rookie Anthony Beauvillier scored in the first period, Thomas Greiss made 24 saves, and the New York Islanders beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 Thursday night.

Anders Lee scored in the second period and John Tavares added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the Islanders' third straight win. New York has won the first two games on a crucial nine-game road swing and improved to 12-4-2 since interim coach Doug Weight replaced the fired Jack Capuano.

Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson each had two assists, and Greiss got his third shutout of the season.

Carey Price finished with 21 saves as the Canadiens lost coach Claude Julien's 1,000th NHL game. Montreal is 1-2-0 since Julien replaced Michel Therrien last week and has totaled just 14 goals while going 2-7-1 in the last 10 games, including four shutouts (see full recap).