(Philadelphia, PA, March 8) – Attempting to clear the puck from the zone, Martin Biron shot the puck off of defenseman Randy Jones and into the Philadelphia net for what turned out to be the difference in a 2-1 Florida win over the Flyers at the Wachovia Center on Thursday night.
Chris Gratton got credit for the goal that came at 1:43 of the third period.
"I think that I saw an opportunity to get the puck up the ice," said Biron. "[Jones] did not have much of an area to go and it was just me trying to get it past him. He tried to get out of the way at the same time I tried to get it through and that is the way it happened."
Philadelphia finished the night 0-for-6 on the power play, including three of those in the third period. Ed Belfour stopped Stefan Ruzicka from close range midway through the third, and then gloved Simon Gagne's quick wrist shot with just over two minutes remaining in regulation.
"I thought we got better in the second, and then we got behind on a fluky play and then we started playing with a sense of urgency coming down the stretch, but now you're chasing the game again," said John Stevens after the game.
Each team scored once in the second to make it a 1-1 game after 40 minutes.
The Flyers got on the board first on a great effort by Dmitry Afanasenkov. He was left unchallenged behind the Florida net, faked to one side, and then went around the other to deposit the puck past Belfour at 1:55 for a wraparound goal.
Unfortunately for Philadelphia the lead did not last long. Just 80 seconds after the goal, Gratton tried to bank the puck in from behind the net, but it bounced off of the cage to the stick of Ville Peltonen who scored to tie the game.
Philadelphia had the majority of the scoring chances throughout the remainder of the second period. Scottie Upshall had two of those chances, firing the puck off of the post towards an empty net when Belfour misplayed it in the Panthers zone.
"By the look on the replay, I think I had a little bit of time, but those are pucks whether it is rolling or not you should be able to put it in. It was just one of those nights," said Upshall.
Later in the second, Upshall went in on a partial breakaway that was gloved by the veteran Florida goaltender.
With just over two minutes remaining in the second, defenseman Lasse Kukkonen hit a post of his own from the high slot.
Belfour, who was strong in net the entire game, made his best save of the evening robbing Jeff Carter with a sprawling left pad stop, also in the second period.
"We had enough quality chances to win the hockey game but I think that if we want to be a really good team, that's not good enough," said Stevens.
Biron did not go unchallenged, however, as Florida held a 26-17 advantage in shots after two periods. In the second, Stephen Weiss threw the puck towards heavy traffic in front of the crease. The puck bounced around and ended up behind Biron landing on the goal line, but the Flyers goaltender froze the puck before it crossed.
Biron finished with 35 saves while Belfour had 26 to record the victory.
The highlight of the game for the home fans came early in the game, when defenseman Denis Gauthier checked Florida's Jay Bouwmeester head-over-heels into the Flyers bench in the first period.
Philadelphia has lost all three games to Florida this season. The teams play once more at the Wachovia Center on March 20.
The Flyers remain home for a Saturday afternoon matchup with the Boston Bruins (1:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, 610 WIP).
FLYERS NOTES Sami Kapanen's five-game point streak came to an end. … Mike Richards' four-game assist streak also ended. … Robert Esche, Denis Hamel and Alexandre Picard all did not dress for Philadelphia.