The Panthers needed this win like few others. One night after imploding in Buffalo, the Panthers came back to win a game few gave them a chance in. One night after folding and giving up four third-period goals in a 5-3 loss to the Sabres, the Panthers scored two in the third and beat the host Flyers 4-2.
The Panthers came into the game with two wins in their past 10 games, so to stay afloat in the postseason race, a win over the Flyers had to happen. They played well on defense and switched goalies after Wednesday’s game.
Now, the Panthers head west to face a Dallas team they haven’t had much success against in the recent past. If the Panthers are to remain in the hunt, they need to find some success in Dallas soon.
Panthers 4, Flyers 2: The Panthers haven’t played well in the third period lately, but turned that around on Thursday by scoring a pair of late goals to beat the Flyers.
The Panthers’ 1-0 lead thanks to a Cory Stillman goal held up into the second period, and the Panthers led 2-1 late in the second off a Radek Dvorak marker.
The Flyers tied it in the closing seconds of the second period, but the Panthers bounced back in the third.
Brett McLean broke the tie early in the third period, with David Booth scoring an empty-net goal to end it. Backup goalie Craig Anderson started and made 40 saves.
• G Tomas Vokoun had been expected to be the goalie for the rest of the season, but coach Pete DeBoer changed his mind. Thursday, it was backup Craig Anderson in net against the Flyers. DeBoer wasn’t happy with Vokoun’s performance in the third period of the Panthers’ meltdown loss at Buffalo on Wednesday. Vokoun gave up three goals in a two-minute span as the Panthers gave up a 3-1 lead and lost 5-3.
“We need more,” DeBoer said. “Unfortunately we’re at the time where we don’t have the luxury of anyone bringing something less than an A-plus game. We have to find a way to get wins. We’ve played well enough the past three games to get five or six points and we have one. It’s not one guy’s fault. We wouldn’t be battling for a spot if not for Tomas Vokoun.”
• G Craig Anderson thanked his teammates after Thursday’s win for their support. Anderson said he has stayed mentally sharp despite knowing he might not play much down the stretch, saying he owed that to his teammates in case something happened to Tomas Vokoun. Don’t be surprised to see Anderson in net Saturday in Dallas after stopping 40 shots against the Flyers.
“This is a great opportunity for him,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “He’s responded well in these situations and I hope he does again. It’s a tough spot I’m putting him in. But like I said, we’re down to seven or eight games. We can’t worry about feelings or putting guys in tough spots. Right now this is where we’re at.”
• W Rostislav Olesz got his chance to show the Panthers what he can do Thursday as coach Pete DeBoer moved the 23-year-old winger onto the team’s top line. Olesz missed 43 games with a sports hernia, but even before getting hurt he was having a disappointing season. Olesz had one goal in 14 games prior to the injury but had already scored once since returning.
“He’s a guy we had penciled in to score 20-plus goals,” DeBoer said. “He’s supposedly a go-to guy. He’s back in and he’s in shape. His timing is back. He needs the opportunity to make a difference. This is his opportunity to do something.”
• D Bryan Allen is out for the season after knee surgery, but he’s with the Panthers on this road trip. “He brings some leadership and some presence,” coach Pete DeBoer said.
• The Panthers are 7-4-1 in the second game of back-to-backs with wins in their past four such games.
Quote To Note: “We’re facing some adversity here. We knew we were playing well and doing the right things, we just haven’t been rewarded. Tonight we were. They believe. We’ve been in this spot before this year. We just have to keep the ball rolling.”—Coach Pete DeBoer, whose team had lost eight of 10 before winning in Philadelphia on Thursday.