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.

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Jay beagle, Brett Connolly, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams also scored, and Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Winnik each had two assists to help Washington earn at least a point in its 12th straight game (10-0-2) for an NHL-best 66 points.

Braden Holtby bounced back from his roughest outing of the season with 22 saves. Holtby was pulled after giving up a season-high five goals on 26 shots in an 8-7 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Monday. He improved to 22-8-4 and 5-0 lifetime against St. Louis (see full recap).

Grabner scores 2 goals, Rangers top Leafs
TORONTO -- Michael Grabner scored two goals against his former team, helping the New York Rangers snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and J.T. Miller added goals for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves following a series of rough outings.

Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto, which had a three-game winning streak stopped. The Maple Leafs had earned 21 of a possible 26 points in their previous 13 games (10-2-1). Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 40 shots (see full recap).

Tavares leads Islanders to shutout of Stars
NEW YORK -- Getting a new coach this week didn't change things much for the Islanders -- and oddly enough, that's a good thing for New York.

John Tavares narrowly missed out on his second hat trick in a week, Thomas Greiss got his second straight shutout and the Islanders beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Thursday night in their first game since firing longtime coach Jack Capuano.

New York canned Capuano in the middle of his seventh season Tuesday, replacing him on an interim basis with Doug Weight (see full recap).

Niederreiter, Wild dodge letdown, edge Coyotes
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nino Niederreiter had two power-play goals and an assist, including the go-ahead score for the Minnesota Wild with 7:06 remaining in a 4-3 victory over Arizona on Thursday night after the Coyotes came back from a two-goal deficit.

With Shane Doan in the penalty box for hooking, Niederreiter knocked in a nifty redirect of Mikael Granlund's slap shot for the winner. Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 shots for the Wild, who are 18-2-2 in their last 22 games.

Louis Domingue made 21 saves for the Coyotes, who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 2-12-1 in their last 15 games starting with a 4-1 loss to Minnesota in Arizona on Dec. 17 (see full recap).

End to End: What adjustment would you make on Flyers' defense?

End to End: What adjustment would you make on Flyers' defense?

Throughout the season, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

With the Flyers on their bye week, let’s discuss a few topics.

Going End to End this week are CSNPhilly.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone.

Today’s question: What adjustment would you make on the Flyers' defense?

Dougherty
There is not much in Dave Hakstol’s arsenal to significantly improve the team defense with a lineup change. Sure, scratching Andrew MacDonald could be a positive step, but that does not solve the problem here. We can point fingers at the defensive group because the Flyers have allowed the league’s second-most goals at 144. They’re part of the problem.

What is plaguing the Flyers is not just the play of their six defensemen on any given night; it’s their overall team defense. Some forwards are quitting on the backcheck, and not providing enough support in their own zone, missing their own assignments.

The Flyers, I believe, are struggling with the lack of practice time. And while it is true that every team is dealing with the same compact schedule as the Flyers, Hakstol has to maximize the little practice time he gets going forward and preach team defense. Gaps have been a major issue with the current group of blueliners, and that is an area assistant coach Gord Murphy has to fix. Hakstol has singled out the team’s rush defense as an issue, and that’s another area the team has to work on, too.

A lot of the same issues that were appearing in the beginning of the season when the Flyers were struggling are reappearing in their game now. They were able to make adjustments earlier in the season to hone their game defensively. More film study and more coaching are just a couple of the adjustments I’d make with the current options.

Hall
Sometimes it takes a fresh face, some new blood to spark change.

If anything, it sends a bit of a message.

The Flyers have options at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley and general manager Ron Hextall didn’t rule anything out last Sunday.

But, of course, given the Flyers’ salary cap conundrum, it’s not as simple as just calling up a player.

So, the easiest thing that can be done is change within the current personnel. That means scratching MacDonald from time to time, just how Hakstol has done so with Shayne Gostisbehere, Brandon Manning, Michael Del Zotto, Radko Gudas and many Flyers forwards.

MacDonald hasn’t been as bad as some may think. Oftentimes, his mistakes are magnified more than others. But too frequently do we see him out of position or misreading a play on a goal against. And that’s been true for all Flyers defensemen, yet MacDonald seems to be one of the only spared of the consequences.

Benching MacDonald isn’t a drastic fix and it may not do much at all, but it’s something we haven’t seen since Nov. 19.

Paone
This a really tough question because, to be quite frank, there is no easy solution here to fixing a Flyers defense that has been mired in a state of miserable play and has played a large part in the team's allowing 3.50 goals per game in the 14 contests since the 10-game win streak ended in mid-December. 

It's not like Hakstol or Hextall can push some magic button here and have things fixed in a matter of moments. The Flyers have salary cap and roster issues, so it's going to be tough to bring in a player via trade to help fix things on the back end. Same goes for bringing up a prospect because space on the roster would have to be made first.

This situation leaves the Flyers to fix the problem from within with the defensemen they currently have at the NHL level. They're going to have to play their way out of this. And that's why I'm interested in focusing on the younger defensemen like Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov right now. We know what the veteran defensemen on this team are and they've been through this sort of thing before. This will not be the last team-wide rut the younger defensemen will play through in their careers. It will happen again. They're going to have to learn how to play through this and not let it affect their individual play. That's why I didn't agree with Ghost's benching in Boston last weekend.  Sure, he has not played well this season and the warts to his game have been evident. And there are times when sitting back, taking a breather and watching can be beneficial. But I'm a believer that a young player has to play through his growing pains and grow from them.

This isn't going to be an answer most of you will like to hear, but with the way the Flyers' hands are tied, they're just going to have to play their way out of these defensive struggles with what they have.