Panthers Bypass Penalty Woes, Overcome Flyers in Home Opener

After a three-game road trip, the Florida Panthers improve their early season record to 3-1 after a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in their home opener at the FLA Live Arena.

Setting the Scene

The Florida Panthers entered the 2022 season with high expectations coming off one of their most successful campaigns in team history, in which they made the playoffs and won their first-round series against the Washington Capitals – their first series win since 1996. Florida’s playoff run ended abruptly, however, as they were swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round.

Florida’s offseason was filled with brand new signings including their head coach, Paul Maurice. The former coach of the Winnipeg Jets replaces Panthers coach Joel Quenneville, who resigned in the middle of the 2021 season following sexual assault allegations made against the coaching staff of the Chicago Blackhawks, which was Quenneville’s former team.

On the ice, Florida made a major trade with the Calgary Flames, sending forward Jonathan Huberdeau and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar to Calgary in exchange for left-wing Matthew Tkachuk, who has signed an eight-year deal.

Coming off a three-game road trip, the Panthers entered this game with a 2-1 record against the New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, and Boston Bruins, with the Bruins being their only loss.

Finally being back home at the FLA Live Arena, it was a special night for the Panthers as they got to raise their 2021 President’s Trophy, earned by winning the most regular-season games out of all 32 teams last season. It’s the first Presidents’ Trophy in the team’s history.

In addition, it was the 600th game played by Panthers center Aleksander Barkov, all of which occurred with Florida.

A Busy First Period

With three straight shots on goal to begin the game, the Panthers found early momentum which led to the game’s first fight only two minutes in, however, no penalties were handed out to either team.

Not long after, the Panthers began their first power play but were unable to covert multiple shots on goal. Power play conversions were possibly the biggest issue for the Panthers last season during their playoff run, as they only scored a single power play goal off 31 attempts.

With 14 minutes remaining in the first period, center Carter Verhaeghe landed the first goal of the game for Florida, taking advantage of Flyers goalie Felix Sandstrom slowly getting back up on his feet.

Philadelphia thought they answered with a quick goal by forward Travis Konecny. However, the call was challenged by Florida, who believed that Konecny was offsides, as he wasn’t able to control the puck while crossing the blue line. After a brief check by the officials, the call was indeed reversed.

Two minutes later, Verhaeghe doubled down with his second goal of the game, rebounding off a missed shot by Panthers defenseman Gustav Forsling, giving Florida an early 2-0 lead.

Philadelphia would eventually snag their first goal of the game with three minutes to go in the first period, courtesy of defenseman Nick Seeler getting by Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

Two straight penalties on Florida led to the Flyers first and second power play opportunities, but they were unable to cash in as the horn rang to end the first period, with the Panthers leading 2-1.

Philly Breaks it Even

In the second period, the Flyers kept getting opportunities off of mistakes by the Panthers, as Philadelphia began the first five minutes on multiple power plays, but were unsuccessful in every attempt. Florida even had multiple opportunities to score off of short-handed attempts, but couldn’t get by Sandstrom and the Flyers defense.

Philly finally got their break with five minutes to go in the second period. With only half a minute of an active power pay left, left-wing James van Riemsdyk capitalized off a barrage at the goal, tying the game.

Neither the Panthers nor the Flyers could convert shots on goal afterward, forcing a 2-2 stalemate entering the third and final period.

Florida Starts to Spin Free

The third period was won by the Panthers offense. Four minutes in, a breakaway by center Sam Bennett and left-wing Rudolfs Balcers created a one-on-one opportunity for Balcers against Sandstrom, which the former San Jose Shark capitalized on. The Panthers finally answered the two straight goals by Philly with one of their own, and wouldn’t give up the lead again.

Philadelphia began taking the most shots on goal thus far in the game, but some close saves by Bobrovsky kept the lead intact for the Panthers.

Florida would snatch an insurance goal not long afterward off of another breakaway. This time, it was done by left-wing Josh Mahura, who nailed a longshot right by Flyers right-wing Tony DeAngelo.

Philadelphia would attempt to even things up with a couple of minutes to go by resorting to an empty net, but the Panthers defense held firm and didn’t allow another goal until there were only three seconds left in the game, as Konecny landed a wide-open shot. Still, it was too little, too late, and Florida held on to secure a 4-3 win.

The Statistical Breakdown

Despite Florida dominating the number of shots on goal in the first and second periods, Philadelphia evened the amount in the third, with the Panthers managing 36, and the Flyers with 33.

The biggest takeaway of the game was the Flyers inability to convert more than once from their six power play attempts, due in part to a solid showing by Bobrovsky who ended the game with 30 saves.

For the Panthers, Bennett, Barkov, and Tkachuk all earned two assists each. Tkachov and Verhaeghe each took four shots on goal, leading the team in that category.

What’s Next

The Panthers will play two more upcoming games at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday, October 21st, and the New York Islanders on Sunday, October 23rd. After that, they’ll be leaving Florida for two straight road games against Chicago and Philadelphia.

Photo | Florida Panthers 

(Visited 48 times, 1 visits today)

About Post Author