Tim Thomas stuck around for the whole game and Sean Bergenheim's was in the lineup this time around. That was bad news for the Flyers.
Thomas made 38 saves and Bergenheim's scored twice within a 10-minute span as the Panthers opened a five-game homestand with a 3-1 win over Philadelphia on Monday night.
Bergenheim’s missed Florida's 2-1 loss at Philadelphia on Oct. 8 as he was working his way back into the lineup after being out all of last season. Thomas gave up two goals in less than eight minutes as he left that game early with a groin pull.
“I wasn't thinking payback,” Thomas said. “I was just thinking we had a pretty good road trip and I wanted to start the homestand the right way.”
Monday, both made their mark against the Flyers.
Thomas was sharp in leading the Panthers to their fourth win in nine games — of which Thomas has started all of them — under new coach Peter Horachek.
“I think he gives a lot of guys confidence,” Horachek said. “They know Timmy is there and he's going to make the save when he needs to. Guys need to feel comfortable in these one-goal games.”
Bergenheim’s, playing with the flu, showed incredible focus and determination to give Thomas a 1-0 lead early in the second.
Bergenheim’s got his first crack at goalie Steve Mason but was rejected on a wraparound on the right side of the cage. Bergenheim’s then followed his own rebound with an odd-angled shot before getting the puck back and finally pushing it past Mason's leg on the left side.
“It feels good [to score] but the win feels the best,” Bergenheim’s said. “We’re headed in the right direction.”
Bergenheim’s goal — his first since the 2012 playoffs — came moments after the Panthers completed a tough penalty kill. Florida was forced to play down two skaters for 1:23 after Erik Gudbranson was flagged for delay of game with Scott Gomez already in the box.
Thomas held things down during the extended penalty kill, stopping seven shots during the 2:37 the Flyers held an advantage.
“Killing off a 5-on-3 like that was a turning point for us,” Gudbranson said. “Obviously I should have made a better play on the second penalty, but the team stepped up. There was a lot of firepower out there.”
The Panthers made it 2-0 on a power play of their own when Bergenehim got a piece of Marcel Goc’s heavy shot from the left circle with 6:01 left in the period.
Philadelphia, which has won six of its past eight, cut its deficit to one when Wayne Simmonds knocked in a rebound.
Gudbranson all but ended it with 4:08 left when his shot from 55 feet out bounced past Mason.
The Panthers honored their first coach Monday by naming the press box at BB&T Center after the late Roger Neilson in an afternoon ceremony.
Owner Vinnie Viola said he wanted to be at the event to “make it very clear that the Panthers organization takes care of its own and remembers the sacrifice and dedication it takes.”
Neilson’s was hired by Bill Torrey, the Panthers’ team president at the time.
Torrey opened his remarks by commenting on Neilson’s colorful — and often very inexpensive — neckties. “We thought they were bandanas from Woodstock,” Brian Skrudland joked.
Neilson’s died in 2003 after battling cancer.
“Roger is being honored in a lovely way and a way he would appreciate,” Torrey said. “I told Roger, ‘You gave your life to hockey.’ What more can you say to someone who truly, every single day of life, had his happiest moments when he was at the rink hassling the players or hassling the general manager. I miss him.”
Fans honored Neilson’s memory with a standing ovation during a first period timeout. Neilson’s also coached the Flyers for a few seasons.