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POSTGAME 5: Sunrise Six

Flyers storm out of the gates, get three-point nights from van Riemsdyk and Braun to earn 6-2 win at Florida

by Bill Meltzer @BillMeltzer

HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
The Flyers grabbed two very important points in the tightly packed Eastern Conference playoff race on Thursday, as they defeated the host Florida Panthers by a 6-2 score.

The Flyers built a huge 4-0 lead through two periods as James van Riemsdyk (17th goal of the season), Tyler Pitlick (6th) and Nicolas Aube-Kubel (4th) scored in the first period. Scott Laughton (10th) opened a 4-0 lead late in the second period.

The Panthers got quick goals in the third period from Jonathan Huberdeau (20th) and Aleksander Barkov (17th) but Sean Couturier (17th) and Robert Hägg (3rd) punctuated it with a late power play goal.

Carter Hart was outstanding in goal for the Flyers. He earned the win with 26 saves on 28 shots. Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled after the first period (three goals against on nine shots). Sam Montembault took over the rest of the way, stopping 16 of 19 shots.

Three Stars:
1st: James van Riemsdyk (1g-2a)
2nd: Matt Niskanen (2a)
3rd: Sean Couturier (1g)

TURNING POINT
There were two distinct turning points: the Flyers closely spaced second and third goals late in the first period put the Flyers in the driver's seat. Later, when Florida got back with 4-2 in quick succession in the third period, Hart's 10-bell save on Evgenii Dadonov gave the Flyers a huge lift and started the team back toward righting the ship.Video: PHI@FLA: Hart gets across to deny Dadonov

MELTZER'S TAKE
1) The Flyers fourth line did a nice job creating the game's first power play. Michael Raffl got open over the middle and Nicolas Aube-Kubel hit him with the pas. Hart stepped up twice more to stop Vatrano on good chances later in the first period, including one in close. 

2) Early in the second period, Florida made a push and hemmed the Flyers in a bit but Philly did a good containment job and then resumed control of the game. Hart erased a few miscues in front with clean saves. At the other end, the Flyers' got their forechecking cranked up again -- especially the likes of Pitlick, Laughton, Aube-Kubel and Michael Raffl.Video: PHI@FLA: Pitlick goes top shelf on Bobrovsky

3) A defensive assignment was missed by the Flyers in the opening minute of the third period, leading to a backdoor goal by the deadly Huberdeau off a great pass from MacKenzie Weegar. Then Barkov sniped a goal upstairs to make it a 4-2 game with 15:04 left. Exactly the type of start the Flyers did not need to the third period.

4) The Flyers, who had to rotate five defensemen with Sanheim nursing an apparent lower-body injury sustained in the second period, needed Hart to come up with a slew of tough saves, including a point-blank stop on Evgenii Dadonov. The ice was tilted in Florida's favor. Philly desperately needed order to be restored.

5) James van Riemsdyk is one of the slowest-to-anger players in the NHL but he understandably took major exception to a dirty hit from behind by Huberdeau in the final minute. The Flyers got a power play, and Hägg scored from close range to seal a four-goal margin of victory. 

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING
* The Flyers won the season series against the Panthers, going 2-1-0 and winning the last two meetings - they also snapped a four-game losing skid at Florida.

* The Flyers earned their sixth straight win in games that immediately followed a loss.

* James van Riemsdyk posted a three-point night with a goal and two assists - he now has a four-game point streak (3g-4a) and 14 points (5g-8a) in his last 13 games.Video: PHI@FLA: van Riemsdyk gives Flyers early lead

* Scott Laughton has a three-game point streak (1g-3a) and has points in six of his last eight games, recording eight points (4g-4a) in that stretch.

* The Flyers defense scored for the third straight game... They also recorded seven points in tonight's game, led by Justin Braun with a three assists.

* The Flyers end their three-game trip in Tampa when they take on the Lightning on Saturday in a 4 p.m. start (NBCSP & 97.5 The Fanatic).

THEY SAID IT
Video: Hear from Niskanen, Laughton and Hart following winVideo: Hear from Flyers coach following win over FLA

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