Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers stumble to early deficit; listless offense can’t stage rally

Florida Panthers' Roberto Luongo, left, dives to cover up a loose puck as Philadelphia Flyers' Zac Rinaldo skates in during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, in Philadelphia.
Florida Panthers' Roberto Luongo, left, dives to cover up a loose puck as Philadelphia Flyers' Zac Rinaldo skates in during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, in Philadelphia. AP

The Panthers don’t score very much and have won just one high-scoring game this season.

So spotting the Flyers a three-goal lead Thursday probably wasn’t the best way to go about things.

Flyers goalie Steve Mason made sure the low-scoring Panthers didn’t come back from their deficit, either, stopping 34 shots in Philadelphia’s 4-1 win at Wells Fargo Center.

“It’s tough for us to climb out of that with the scoring we’ve been having,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said.

“But we weren’t sharp enough, hungry enough and didn’t fight enough. We didn’t do a lot of the things we had been doing all year. It caught up to us tonight. We didn’t play well.’’

Florida’s loss snapped a few positive trends as it had not lost a road game in the first six tries this season. The Panthers also had their seven game (4-0-3) point streak halted in the loss.

The Panthers’ run of scoring two goals or fewer? That, unfortunately for them, did continue.

Florida has scored two goals or fewer in 10 of its first 11 games. Not a good recipe when a team takes a 3-0 lead fairly early into the proceedings.

“You don’t want to think that way,’’ said goalie Roberto Luongo, who stopped 26 shots.

Philadelphia’s offense was stymied by Luongo and the Panthers last week in a 2-1 loss.

Thursday, the Flyers brought its top game as they scored twice within the first seven minutes.


Philadelphia led 3-0 just 2:50 into the second and the Panthers barely had time to celebrate Nick Bjugstad’s first goal of the year before the Flyers had their three-goal cushion back.

“It doesn’t help to score and have them come right back,’’ said Bjugstad, who made it 3-1 midway through the second only to watch Philadelphia score 39 seconds later.

“You can’t dig yourself too big a hole with those guys. They’re too good.’’

Sean Couturier opened the Flyers’ scoring by camping out in front of the cage and redirecting a shot from Brayden Schenn and putting it past Luongo 3:53 into the game.

A few minutes later, Michael Del Zotto made it 2-0 as he used official Dean Morton as a screen and flung an odd-angled shot that found its way past Luongo.

“It was a weird play, no doubt about that,’’ Luongo said.

“When you’re on, though, you find a way to be on top of that. I was already out of position, so I’m not going to blame the referee for that one.’’

Down 3-0 after Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored off a puck freed up after Dmitry Kulikov was sandwiched against the end boards, Bjugstad briefly gave the Panthers life by banging in a fat rebound off a power-play shot from Jimmy Hayes.

The Flyers had killed at 19 consecutive power plays at home before Bjugstad scored.

Philadelphia all but ended any hope the Panthers had of pulling another road point when Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek broke loose. Voracek scored his NHL-leading 19th point on a cross-ice pass from Giroux.

“That’s a key moment in the game, maybe [I] should have been more patient there,’’ Luongo said.

“Giroux froze me on the pump fake. ... I was flat footed. It was a key moment in the game. I needed to make the save.’’


Forward Shawn Thornton briefly left Thursday’s game to take stitches after a deflected puck hit him just above the eye near the end of the first period.

Thornton was being defended by Mark Streit when Dylan Olsen’s long shot deflected off Streit’s stick and shot straight up and hit Thornton in the face.

Thornton doesn’t wear a visor.

“It hit me in the safest place; my head,’’ Thornton joked afterward.

“I’m fine.’’

▪ Aleksander Barkov returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sore knee.

Barkov put in two full practices before coming back Thursday. Barkov was on Florida’s top line with Brad Boyes and Jussi Jokinen.

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