PHILADELPHIA – This one just didn’t feel right from the beginning.
It’s hard to put a finger on why, but the game didn’t seem to have much juice. It didn’t have an edge – like the game Tuesday against Tampa.
It was missing zip, pep and oomph.
“The first period in general just seemed quiet,” said coach Peter Laviolette. “Both sides.”
And quiet was the kind of game the Florida Panthers wanted. It would take the Wells Fargo Center crowd out of the contest. It would bring the Flyers into a bit of a lull, and maybe they could take advantage.
It wasn’t the perfect plan, but it worked well enough as the Flyers did lose to the Panthers 3-2 in a shootout, still earning a point in the standings.
The Flyers led for a good portion of the game, and were the better team much of the night as well, but the Panthers were able to hang around and tie the score with a power play goal in the third period and then after withstanding a hellacious attack by the Flyers in overtime, won the shootout with relative ease.
“It’s frustrating,” said captain Claude Giroux. “Most of the game we played well. We played some good hockey. There were a couple minutes there in the first where we were a little sloppy everywhere, but all around we played a pretty good game and a pretty solid team game.
“But in the end, we need those points. We needed that shootout win and we couldn’t get it done.”
Over the course of a normal season, shootout losses are aggravating, but often acceptable because it was only one point lost not two, and usually the team could justify that loss by saying it played well enough to win.
But in a shortened season, no can do. Especially when the team put itself in a hole and lost six of it’s first 10 games.
“It’s frustrating to lose a point tonight,” said Mike Knuble, who may have been the best Flyer skater in the contest, assisting on one goal and making a diving stop on a backcheck to save a breakaway chance. “If it’s an 80-game season you don’t sweat it so much but you’re trying to climb the ladder and you need everything you can get.
“We were fine and ended up not being able to kill a penalty and that happens. I don’t know if we were back on our heels a bit in the third but you’ve got to kill a penalty and that’s how you’re going to win the game. We couldn’t do it tonight and it’s frustrating to lose the point.”
Down a goal in the first period, Jake Voracek was able to tie the score for the Flyers with a power play goal from the right circle that was fired through a finely placed screen by Tye McGinn.
Matt Read gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead in the second period, roofing the rebound of a Knuble shot. Knuble spent the entire shift digging out pucks, and really was a one-man-wrecking-crew on the play, which ended in a reward for Read.
But, that’s all the Flyers could muster, and missed out on a couple power play chances in the third period.
“We didn’t make a difference, so that was probably why we didn’t win the game,” Voracek said. “We had a couple chances in the game. We had a couple chances in overtime to win it too, but we didn’t and they buried their chances. So that was the difference.”
That overtime was spent almost exclusively in the Florida end, but Panthers goalie Jose Thoedore was equal, and kept the puck out of the net making 30 saves.
When the game moved to the shootout, it was advantage Panthers.
Jonathan Huberdeau made a nifty move to beat Ilya Bryzgalov (22 saves) and then Peter Mueller fired the dagger with a nasty glove-side snipe.
Meanwhile, Theodore stoned both Read and Claude Giroux, ending a sluggish night in disappointing style.
“In the first period we were a little slow out of the gate,” said Danny Briere. “Instead of being on the offense, we were on our heels. Maybe if we come out a little better maybe we jump to a one-nothing lead instead of playing from behind. I think that it’s the first period I would like to have back.”
Instead, they go forward, and prepare for a rematch with Carolina Saturday afternoon.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37