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Luongo, Panthers defeat Flyers in shootout

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- Two straight Florida Panthers games have been decided in the shootout.

It wasn't nearly as long as the previous one, but the result in their shootout against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday was the same.

Dave Bolland scored the winning goal in the sixth round of the tiebreaker to help the Panthers defeat the Flyers 2-1 at Wells Fargo Center.

Brandon Pirri also scored in the shootout, and Scottie Upshall scored in regulation for the Panthers (14-8-8). Roberto Luongo made 25 saves in regulation and overtime, and then denied five of six Flyers in the shootout.

The Panthers' victory came two days after their NHL-record 20-round shootout win Tuesday against the Washington Capitals.

"Once we got past four or five [rounds], I was thinking, 'Let's do this again,'" said Luongo, who earned the 385th victory of his career, tying him with Mike Vernon for 12th in NHL history.

Instead, Bolland came down the middle of the ice, slowed up in the slot and sent a low wrist shot past Flyers goalie Steve Mason.

The Flyers' Sean Couturier had a chance to extend the shootout, but on his attempt the puck rolled off his stick before he could get a shot off.

Jakub Voracek scored for the Flyers and also had their only goal of the shootout. Mason made 31 saves in regulation and overtime, and then denied four of six Panthers shooters.

The Flyers (11-14-6) are 0-5 in shootouts this season and have lost 10 straight dating to last season; their last win in the tiebreaker was Dec. 30, 2013.

"We got to find a way to win them," Mason said. "We're not scoring enough in it, we're not stopping enough. Tonight we had two opportunities to win it and we couldn't. We have to find ways to bear down in these things. That's five shootouts we've lost this year ... that's five points that could have put us in the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs; there's your difference."

The win boosted the Panthers into the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

"I know we're flip-flopping here with Boston, but we need to hopefully track down some teams above us that are a few away from us," Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell said. "And some games in hand, we can use those. We kind of put a big emphasis on this little last four games here before the [holiday] break that we really need to have a lot of success in those games. We're on our way."

They're 2-0-0 so far, with a home-and-home set coming against the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday in Pittsburgh and Monday at BB&T Center.

"Those are going to be two big games," Luongo said. "Top team in the conference. They're a measuring stuck. But at the same time, we want to keep playing the way we're playing and make them adjust to us."

Upshall's goal at 9:37 of the first gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead, and the Flyers tied the game on Voracek's one-timer at 4:07 of the second.

After a scoreless third period, the Flyers had the better of the play in overtime. They outshot the Panthers 4-2, but Luongo made three key saves to keep Florida in the game. He got a piece of Mark Streit's shot with his glove with 1:37 left and gloved a Matt Read slap shot with 41.2 seconds remaining. Then with 14.3 seconds remaining, he did the splits to glove aside Andrew MacDonald's shot off a 4-on-2 Philadelphia rush.

"They probably should have won the game in overtime," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said.

It was the 10th one-goal game for the Panthers in their past 11, their 22nd in 30 games this season (12-2-8).

"You look around the League and it's a lot of one-goal games," Luongo said. "The good thing is we're comfortable in those situations. We're finding ways to at least get it to overtime and we'll take our chances in overtime or shootout. These are the type of games we're going to be facing down the stretch. If we want to be in it, we have to find ways to win it like we're doing now."

It's too early to talk about playoff hockey, but the Panthers know these are the kind of games they're going to have to win to get there.

"I think they're exciting games," Campbell said. "For us every point means something. It means so much to us. We got to keep grinding away and grinding these wins out."

The points are important to Philadelphia as well, and the Flyers felt they let one get away Thursday due to a lack of intensity at different parts of the game, especially the first period.

"Some good things and some bad things [in the game]," Mason said. "Overall I think we just have to up the intensity. We got to create more. ... Guys have to step up; they can't just look for a couple of guys to provide the spurts. It's got to be everybody."

The Flyers finished their four-game homestand 2-1-1, but they will take a bit of a sour taste with them as they start an eight-game road trip Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Flyers beat the New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes in the first two of the homestand, but picked up one point in their final two, against the Tampa Bay Lighting and the Panthers.

"We wanted to go 4-0," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "Didn't happen."


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