|@ Flyers (1-1-1)||1||0||0||1|
The game started off with a 4 minute Panthers power play after Dave Bolland got a high stick to the face by Mike Raffl. As a result of this, Bolland went back to the locker room to get stitched up. Brandon Pirri and Reilly Smith both had a few good looks in the first half of the power play but the shots were all stopped or wide of the net. Although the Panthers were not able to capitalize on the power play, they were already seeming to be a more offensive team than ever before. Quickly after the end of the power play, Brayden Schenn was able to get the puck past Luongo off of a Sam Gagner rebound. Sean Couturier got the secondary assist on the goal and the Flyers were up 1-0. After Derek MacKenzie had a couple of big hits along the boards (one to the referee – ouch), Aaron Ekblad hit a slap shot that was gloved high by Michal Neuvirth. With 8:34 left in the period, Radko Gudas unsurprisingly hit Brandon Pirri and was given a roughing penalty. Claude Giroux and his fancy footwork prevented the Panthers from getting much action on the power play. The Panthers were not able to score on the power play, once again.
Shortly after the Gudas penalty ended, Shawn Thornton was sent to the box for holding the stick and the Panthers were shorthanded at a time where the Flyers were gaining momentum. A couple of good Luongo saves kept the score 1-0 after the penalty kill. With 6 seconds left in the Thornton penalty, Sean Couturier was penalized for interference on Erik Gudbranson, who had been a real asset to the Panthers on their penalty kills. Giroux once again had some good opportunities on the Flyers’ penalty kill but Aaron Ekblad was right there with him to prevent him from scoring. The Panthers did not find the back of the net on that power play, or for the rest of the period for that matter. With 56 seconds remaining, there was a huge brawl behind the Panthers’ net and Wayne Simmonds took down Connor Brickley. The Panthers’ Connor Brickley and Alex Petrovic and the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds were sent to the penalty box as a result. In the box, Wayne Simmonds shared some words with Alex Petrovic and asked if Petrovic would take his mask off during a fight, so we will see how this develops in the second period.
The Flyers went on a power play that would carry over into period two. Jakub Voracek had a great chance to score in the final minutes of the period and he actually thought he did hit the net but the puck went high and the score remained 1-0 at the end of the period. Each team ended the period with 10 shots on goal.
In the beginning of the second period, Luongo had to make a couple of clutch saves in order to prevent the Flyers from scoring on the power play. Brandon Pirri also continued to shoot and miss, as did the rest of the team. Vincent Trocheck had a couple of good looks that were gloved and as a result, he drew a slashing penalty and Ryan White went to the box. The Flyers, whose penalty kill has been excellent tonight, killed off this penalty with ease. The first 15 minutes of play were fairly quiet besides a lot of rough play, of course. The Panthers were unable to get possession of the puck for long periods of time. When a Voracek shot allowed the Flyers to jam the net, a huge brawl occurred and even Luongo got in on it to hit Evgeny Medvedev. Radko Gudas and Erik Gudbranson were the two casualties of the fight and each got roughing minors, resulting in some 4-on-4 play. When Jakub Voracek took the puck away from Bolland who was charging toward the net, he was quickly hit by Alex Petrovic. The hit seemed legal but Petrovic was given an interference penalty anyway. Luongo, again, was there to save the day and the score remained 1-0 through the sequence of 4-on-4, 4-on-3, and 5-on-4. Jaromir Jagr drew a penalty when he caught Scott Laughton holding his stick. The penalty was killed and the Panthers were 0-6 on the power play at this point. There was no shortage of foul play this period but there was a shortage of shot attempts by the Panthers. At the end of the period, the Flyers were still winning 1-0. The Panthers had 17 shots on goal and the Flyers had 24.
The Panthers started the third period reinvigorated and ready to come back, with Bjugstad leading the charge. He had a few opportunities to score one of his top-down goals but the puck would not hit the net. Reilly Smith took a hit to the face, which went unnoticed, and his nose appeared to be broken but he kept on playing anyway after the blood stopped flowing. This energy did not last long though and the Flyers began to get more shots in again. The Panthers just could not hit the net for the life of them. With about 6 minutes left, Pirri missed a wide open net in a play that in itself captured the essence of this game. There really isn’t much to say about this period except for the fact that the Panthers were notoriously puck unlucky and it cost them the game. With just over a minute left, Luongo headed to the bench and the Panthers had an extra attacker on the ice. After an icing call on the Flyers, Gerard Gallant called a time out in hopes of giving his team the drive to win. However, the Flyers were able to pull out the win anyway, 1-0. The Panthers ended with 30 shots on goal, while the Flyers had 33.
Erik Gudbranson played very well defensively and was an important player for the Panthers on the penalty kill. Vincent Trocheck showed his passion with every shot and it was clear to everyone that he really wanted to score. Reilly Smith and Nick Bjugstad each got some good shots off that just barely missed the net. Smith in particular played with a possibly broken nose in the third period but he still continued to play a great two-way game. Even though Pirri had a bit of trouble hitting the net, you have to admire his drive and dedication. Once again, Luongo played a great game. Without him, this game would not have been nearly as close as it was. When it came down to it, a few bad bounces were all it took for the Flyers to get the win in their home opener.
The Panthers will be playing the second game of their doubleheader tomorrow against the Carolina Hurricanes at 7:00pm ET. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of the game.