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Revived Panthers get revenge over Flyers in shootout

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- It was only 13 days ago that the Philadelphia Flyers routed the Florida Panthers 7-1.

However, that Panthers team was missing a slew of regulars, among them top-line forwards Stephen Weiss and Kris Versteeg. Now that they have a mostly healthy lineup, the difference was obvious as the Panthers skated out of Philadelphia on Thursday with a 3-2 shootout win.

Jonathan Huberdeau and Peter Mueller scored in the shootout, and Jose Theodore, who made 25 saves in regulation and five more in overtime, denied Matt Read and Claude Giroux in the shootout.

Jakub Voracek and Read scored in regulation for the Flyers, who saw their two-game winning streak end.

After a 1-5-0 start, the Panthers have gained points in four straight games, with wins in three of the four.

"We talked about it tonight," Weiss said. "This can be a turning point for our season. We can either fall back or we push forward here, and we were able to have a decent effort. Theo made some saves and kept us in it, and our new shootout guys came through, which was nice."

Weiss also came through, scoring the tying goal at 8:35 of the third period. On their fourth power play of the game, defenseman Dmitry Kulikov held a Flyers clearing attempt in the Philadelphia zone and fed the puck to Weiss. He worked a give-and-go with Tomas Fleischmann, with Weiss getting the puck back in the right faceoff circle. His quick wrist shot went under Ilya Bryzgalov's glove for Weiss' first goal of the season.

"We weren't getting much out of our power play, so it was nice to get one," he said. "It was a great job by [Kulikov] keeping that puck in. He creates that goal for us by keeping it in there. For sure it was a big goal for our team. [It] gave us a boost and we seemed to get a bit of momentum after that."

Weiss also logged big ice time on a pair of third-period penalty kills that helped keep the game tied.

"Weiss is a really important piece of our puzzle," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "I had him out there quite a bit on those penalty kills at the end, and he scores a big goal for us to tie things up. It's the little things, the faceoffs, the board battles when you're trying to kill penalties at the end of the game, that's what makes him a special player."

And that's what the Panthers were missing when these teams played in Florida. Though it was almost two weeks ago, the wound still was raw.

"That was embarrassing," Mueller said of the Jan. 26 game. "Everyone wanted to forget about that one ASAP. … You take a beating like that, you've got to get a wake-up call soon enough and that was a big wake-up call for us and hopefully we can keep pushing forward."

Weiss' goal came after Read put the Flyers ahead 2-1 early in the second period.

Mike Knuble got the puck behind the Florida net and bulled his way out front. He jammed the puck against the post to the left of Theodore, taking three whacks at it, including one after he lifted Theodore's blocker. Read swept in and grabbed the puck and shot high over a fallen Theodore at 2:42.

The goal was Read's fourth of the season, all against the Panthers. He had a hat trick in the first meeting and has six goals in six career games against Florida.

The Flyers had chances before and after Weiss' goal to extend their lead, but a power play that had scored on four of its previous six chances was shut down on one chance late in the second and back-to-back opportunities in the third.

"When things are going your way that's how you improve your spot in the standings, capitalizing right there, being timely, like a timely goal," Knuble said. "Real timely situation for us to score and pull out a win with five or six minutes left. It's frustrating to not be able to manufacture more."

Despite Bryzgalov's shootout issues -- he's now 3-6 in two seasons with the Flyers -- he had another solid game with 22 saves. His best came with 3:56 left in the period when Shawn Matthias hit the post to Bryzgalov's right. Bryzgalov knocked the puck behind his net, and Matthias grabbed it for an attempted wraparound on the far post, but the goalie was able to dive across to deny the attempt with his stick.

The teams traded goals in the first period, with Florida opening the scoring on Jack Skille's first goal of the season.

A healthy scratch the prior two games, Skille took a pass from Kulikov, skated into the high slot and fired a shot on net that went off Bryzgalov's stick and into the net at 10:52.

The Flyers tied the game 52 seconds later on their first power play of the game. Voracek skated with the puck on the right side of the Panthers zone, carried it into the right faceoff circle and fired a shot that went off Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell. With Flyers forward Tye McGinn screening Theodore, he couldn't make the save.


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