Sunrise, FL – Simon Gagne, Petr Nedved, R.J. Umberger and Jeff Carter all scored and Robert Esche made 27 saves as the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center Wednesday night, 4-0.
With the win, the Flyers pulled into a first place tie with the New York Rangers in the Atlantic Division. They also snapped their six-game road losing streak along with Florida's three-game winning streak.
The team, which arrived in Florida two days prior to the game for a complete day off on Monday, seemed to take advantage of their break as well as a little sun and fun.
"It was very nice. We would have probably appreciated it a lot more if we won in Pittsburgh [Sunday], but when you get a chance to relax you have to take advantage of it no matter what the situation is, and we did," said Nedved. "We played great tonight."
"It's a nice win," added Carter. "We had a couple days to regroup and just figure out what was going on here. I think the guys came out here right out of the bat from the first shift on, and we really played the way we needed to. It showed in the end."
The shutout was Esche's first of the season and Philadelphia's third overall.
"That was a real Flyers game," said Esche. "We were hitting, we were fast, the breakouts were awesome; [Donald] Brashear fought. Every guy knew what we had to do, so we kind of just shut up and tried to do it."
Philadelphia was the stronger and more energized team from the start. Gagne got things going with a laser wrist shot from the face off circle at 3:38 for his 39th goal of the season as the Flyers out shot Florida 13-5 over the first 20 minutes.
In the second, Nedved got a step behind Florida defenseman Mike Van Ryn and took a perfect pass from Joni Pitkanen at the blue line. Nedved made a move before going top shelf to beat Roberto Luongo at 8:53.
"I tried to give him a little fake like I'm going to shoot to freeze him, and I went to the side and was able to put it upstairs," said Nedved.
Pitkanen picked up the primary assist on Philadelphia's third goal, but it was Umberger who did most of the work. Umberger brought the puck into the Florida zone, waited for Panthers defenseman Ric Jackman to skate in front of Luongo, and fired a wrist shot in with just over five minutes left in the second period to give the Flyers a three-goal cushion after 40 minutes.
Umberger made a nice play on Carter's goal in the third period, drawing two defenders as he drove to the slot before dishing off to Carter to his right for a goal at 13:21.
It was Umberger's fourth multiple-point game of the season.
Captain Derian Hatcher returned to the lineup after missing the last two-plus games with a right knee bruise.
"This is the first time since the third of December where we had five NHL defensemen in our lineup, which is three and a half months," said Ken Hitchcock. "We did some great things, and when you start seeing veteran players come in, and you get some rest and relaxation, it starts to fill our tank up."
The Flyers will stay in the state for another game in Tampa Bay on Friday before a game in Atlanta on Saturday. Philadelphia returns home on March 21 to host the New Jersey Devils.
"Good things are happening, and hopefully we can keep it up on [Thursday] and get ready for Friday," said Hitchcock.
FLYERS NOTES Defenseman Denis Gauthier was a team-high +3. … The Flyers finished a perfect 4-0 against Florida this season. The Flyers' last loss in Florida was on January 17, 2000, a span of 10 games. … Randy Jones was a healthy scratch. … Turner Stevenson, Michal Handzus, Chris Therien and Kim Johnsson all remained out due to injury, although Stevenson and Handzus could return as early as Friday. … Jon Sim, who was traded to Florida from the Flyers on January 23, is enjoying his new home. Said Sim: "I'm liking it so far. Everything has been great. I'm getting a chance to play every night and I'm working hard every night. It seems to me to be clicking down here. I have some linemates that I have some good chemistry with (Chris Gratton and Juraj Kolnik) and things are working out." … Jamie McLennan relieved Luongo in net to start the third period.