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Flyers rout struggling Panthers 7-1

by Alain Poupart

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Philadelphia Flyers offense broke out Saturday night — in a big way.

Matt Read had his first NHL hat trick, Tye McGinn scored his first NHL goal and the Flyers routed the Florida Panthers 7-1 at the BB&T Center for their second consecutive victory after three losses to open the season.

The Flyers came in having scored only five goals in their first four games.

"It was good to score goals," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "They've been hard to come by so far in the year. To put up a bunch of them was good for our team."

While scoring his first three goals of the season, Read continued to justify Laviolette's decision to put him on the top line with Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmons following the injury to wing Scott Hartnell.

"I'm the beneficiary of playing with two good guys," Read said. "It's pretty easy when you're playing with two good players. You just have to be at the right spot at the right time and just do the little things right and good things are going to happen."

It was a memorable night all around for the Flyers, who saw veteran forward Danny Briere make his season debut and McGinn score his first NHL goal.

Briere, who sustained a broken wrist while playing in Germany during the lockout, got 14:01 of ice time and initially was credited with an assist on the Flyers' first goal before a scoring change took it away.

"It was nice just to get back, play the first game, get a few shifts here and there," Briere said. "I didn't know how things were going to go in this first game. I guess we couldn't have planned it that much better."

For McGinn, his first NHL goal came in his third game after he began the season in the American Hockey League.

He also made a Flyers decision look good, as they decided to keep McGinn in the NHL and instead send down Eric Wellwood to the AHL to make room on the roster for Briere.

"This is an unbelievable feeling," McGinn said. "Words really can't explain it. It just feels awesome."

Luke Schenn and Ruslan Fedotenko each had a goal and an assist, and Simmonds also had a goal. Giroux and Braydon Coburn each had two assists.

Ilya Bryzgalov, making his fifth consecutive start, made 30 saves and had an assist on Read's first goal. It was the eighth assist of his career.

"He was really good," Laviolette said. "There were some opportunities there, especially in the second. There were a couple that came his way and he really bailed us out. He's been really sharp and tonight was no different."

Peter Mueller scored the lone goal for the Panthers, who have lost their last four in regulation after beating the Carolina Hurricanes in their season opener last Saturday night. The Panthers never lost more than three consecutive games in regulation in 2011-12 when they won their first-ever division title.

Florida has been outscored 18-3 since its 5-1 victory against the Hurricanes. Their next game is Tuesday at Tampa Bay, where the Flyers play on Sunday.

"Time is short here and obviously we're not taking good advantage of it," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "It's going to be a miserable couple days for us. To come off an embarrassing game at home, you don't want that in front of your fans, but there it is, it's on our scorecard now, so we have to deal with it."

Jose Theodore started in net for the Panthers, but was pulled for Scott Clemmensen to start the second period after allowing three goals on nine shots.

Forward Quinton Howden, one of Florida's three first-round picks in the 2010 NHL Draft, made his NHL debut. He became the fourth Panther to appear in his first NHL game this season, following Jonathan Huberdeau, Michael Caruso and Drew Shore.

"Obviously that isn't the kind of game you want for your first game," said Howden, who got 9:29 of ice time. "I thought as the game went on it kind of slowed down and after the third period I kind of got my feet under me."

Florida again was without several injured regulars — Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg, Marcel Goc, Sean Bergenheim and Erik Gudbranson. The Flyers, meanwhile, were without both Hartnell and defenseman Andrej Meszaros.

Dineen refused to blame injuries for his team's poor showing.

"Injuries have absolutely nothing to do with what happened tonight," he said. "We got our tails handed to us in every way. Injuries is a moot point."

After Simmonds opened the scoring at 3:10 with a 5-on-3 goal, Read scored his first goal of the season at 6:12 when he rushed up the left wing. After making a move toward the middle of the ice, he beat Theodore with a wrist shot to the glove side.

Read got his second at 18:34 of the second period by swatting home a bouncing puck after Coburn backhanded a pass from the right side of the net. The shot went through Clemmensen's legs.

"He did a great job of finishing it off," Coburn said. "He had a great night tonight."

Read completed the hat trick with a power-play goal 54 seconds into the third period when he one-timed Brayden Schenn's pass in the high slot.

McGinn closed out the first-period scoring at 18:51 when he skated in front of the net and redirected Coburn's feed from the boards. McGinn was playing in his third NHL game after beginning the season in the American Hockey League.

"We needed a game like this," Briere said. "The last few games we worked extremely hard but we weren't getting the bounces. To get a game finally where pucks are bouncing our way, it's kind of nice. Hopefully, guys will settle down a little bit more and start making the plays that we've been making in the past. Sometimes a little confidence goes a long way."

The teams combined for three goals in the last 1:26 of the second period, all coming during a 4-on-4 after Philadelphia's Kurtis Foster went to the box for interference and the Panthers' Scottie Upshall was called for closing his hand on the puck.

Mueller ended Bryzgalov's shutout bid 36 seconds after Read's second goal when he scored on a breakaway. After taking a pass from Ed Jovanovski from the front of the Panthers' net to the Flyers' blue line, Mueller beat Bryzgalov with a shot to the blocker side.

"It doesn't feel like I scored after a game like that," Mueller said. "It's tough to take anything positive out of it. The good news is we have a couple of days off to really figure out what's going on and stop the bleeding, and that's exactly what we're going to do."

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