Image courtesy of Amy Irvin – 38Photography
Michael Del Zotto’s first goal at the 6:38 mark of the first period would turn out to be the game winner, as the Flyers skated passed the Florida Panthers 4-1.
Sean Couturier added a goal and an assist while Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and Jakub Voracek both also scored for the Flyers. Brayden Schenn led the way with two assists as Matt Read, Carlos Colaiacovo, Claude Giroux and Mark Streit all recorded points. Steve Mason was solid in net for Philadelphia, stopping 34-35 shots. Philadelphia has now won two straight games.
Nick Bjugstad scored Florida’s lone goal on the power play. Jimmy Hayes and Dmitry Kulikov were credited with the assists. Roberto Luongo started in net for the Panthers and allowed 4 goals on 30 shots.
Home ice has its advantages, as the Flyers have now won four straight at home. After a disheartening loss to the Panthers in Florida on Saturday, the Flyers used a strong first period to collar the Panthers.
Couturier opened the scoring for the Flyers with a tip in passed Luongo just 3:53 into the game. Matt Read battled hard along the boards to control the puck, where he hit Brayden Schenn for a one-timer in the slot. As Schenn’s shot went towards the net, Couturier appeared and tipped the puck wide of Luongo’s pads and into the far corner of the net, giving Philadelphia a 1-0 lead.
Del Zotto’s first goal since last March, the ultimate game-winning goal, came from a cross-ice pass from Brayden Schenn. Del Zotto took the puck, used the linesman as a screen, and beat Bobby Lu, who was out of position from the jump.
“He plays a fast game,” Coach Craig Berube said of Del Zotto. “He really moves the puck well.”
The Flyers went to the first intermission with a 2-0 lead.
Philadelphia started the second period the same way they started the first: with a quick goal.
The Flyers appeared to have a found a gem in Bellemare, the 29-year old rookie. The Frenchman, along with Zac Rinaldo, skated hard into the zone and hit Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov to force a turnover. Bellemare then skated to the slot, where a Carlo Colaiacovo pass landed right onto his stick, and the Flyers were up 3-0.
“I like the way they’re skating right now,” Berube said of the fourth line that has now scored in two straight games.
The Panthers would eventually light the lamp, and in impressive fashion, ending the Flyers perfect streak of killing penalties at home. Jimmy Hayes took a pass from Kulikov that split the Flyers defense. Mason saved Hayes shot, but Nick Bjugstad pounced on a big rebound to bring the Panthers within two.
Florida’s comeback would not last long as Voracek scored just 39 seconds later off a beautiful feed from Giroux to complete a two-on-one.
The second period would end with the Flyers leading 4-1.
The Flyers played a controlled third period, in which they dominated the offensive chances and limited scoring chances for the Panthers. Steve Mason continues to get back into his grove, as he led the Flyers to a hard fought, but easy looking 4-1 victory Thursday night.
“We need something out of everybody, every game. That’s it,” Berube said.
And tonight, the Flyers got a complete team effort.