It’s hard to imagine a more heart-breaking way to lose a hockey game.
With 8.6 seconds remaining it overtime, Jakub Voracek found the back of the net and gave the Philadelphia Flyers a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Panthers dropped to 12-12-3 with the defeat, while the win was the sixth-straight for the Flyers (who improved to 15-10-3 with the victory).
“We did a lot of good stuff tonight,” Panthers coach Tom Rowe said. “I told the guys after the game, as frustrating as it is, and as down as some of you may be, there’s too many positives here to get down, so we’ll keep building on what we’ve started.”
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Jussi Jokinen, who hadn’t recorded a point in the Panthers’ previous eight games, sent the game into overtime on a goal with 4:48 to go in the third period.
“Jussi’s a pro,” Rowe said. “It was just a matter of time before he gets on the score-sheet, so I was happy for him.”
Florida netted the first goal of the game when Aleksander Barkov sent one in with 4:20 showing on the clock in the first period.
The Flyers then answered with two goals from Wayne Simmonds. His first came on a wrist-shot from just over the blue line with 2:53 remaining in the first period, and his second found the back of the net with 9:52 left in the second.
Despite the loss, the Panthers racked up 44 shots on goal compared to just 25 from the Flyers.
Philadelphia goalie Steve Mason made 42 saves while Florida goalie James Reimer made 22 of his own.
Tuesday was also the Panthers’ final game of a six-game road trip.
“We’re moving on, we’re moving forward and it’s a great group of guys,” Rowe said. “They’re great players and a lot of fun to coach and we have a lot of great days ahead of us.”
Despite going 1-5 over the road trip, the Panthers have played well in the third period recently. Rowe credited the late-game spurts to the physical state of his players.
“They’re well-conditioned athletes and they know just to stay with the plan,” he said. “Don’t get frustrated because a bunch of them are going in. Just keep supporting the puck real strong like they did throughout the game, and obviously that’s what we need to continue to do.”
Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle, who exited Monday’s game against the Boston Bruins with a lower-body injury after blocking a shot, unexpectedly suited up for Tuesday’s game against the Flyers.
“He played unbelievable,” Rowe said of Yandle. “After last night, I thought he’d be out for a couple weeks, but that shows you how tough he is mentally and physically.”
By playing, Yandle extended his streak to 578 straight games on the ice (the 10th-longest streak in NHL history).
Rowe said that Yandle’s performance was inspirational.
“It’s great for the young kids to see that in a game where he could have easily mailed it in and nobody would have said a word,” Rowe said.
Next up, the Panthers will host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday in a contest slated for 7:30 p.m.