"It's disappointing we haven't made a push after the break," Panthers winger Brett Connolly said. "Everyone's obviously disappointed with the way we played. We went into the break winning six games in a row, and then we're kind of just falling a little bit here.
"It's going to come from the guys in the room. Individually, everyone needs to be better, myself included. We have 25 games here and we can make a big-time push. It's just a matter now of just realizing what we're doing is not near good enough and getting back to work."
The Flyers were a very opportunistic bunch in the first period, scoring three goals on just nine shots. After James van Riemsdyk tapped in a rebound to put Philadelphia up 1-0 at 4:24, Tyler Pitlick and Nicolas Aube-Kubel scored at 17:37 and 18:32, respectively, to push the lead to 3-0.
After the first intermission, Sam Montembeault replaced Sergei Bobrovsky in Florida's net. In the second, Scott Laughton scored to increase Philadelphia's lead to 4-0 at 18:58.
"Pretty ugly," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. "A couple of them went in early there. We lost a little of our compete there. Second period, they took it to us. Monty (Montembeault) kept us in here for a while there. We had a little hope in the third with some action there."
Like Quenneville said, the Panthers showed quite a bit of fight in the third period. After Jonathan Huberdeau beat Carter Hart with a wrist shot to trim Florida's deficit down to 4-1 just 33 seconds into the frame, captain Aleksander Barkov lit the lamp a few minutes later to make it 4-2 at 4:56.
After generating some momentum from those two goals, the Panthers had a couple more good looks before Sean Couturier buried a wrist shot to put the Flyers back on top 5-2 at 14:52. Then, with Philadelphia on the power play, Robert Hagg made it 6-2 with 28 seconds left in regulation.
Montembeault finished with 16 saves, while Hart stopped 26 of 28 shots.
"We've got to play harder," Barkov said. "We want to start in the first period, not in the third period. It's not good enough. We've got to look ourselves in the mirror and start playing a better game; everybody playing the right way, playing hard every shift. Just battle hard."
Here are five takeaways from Thursday's loss in Sunrise…
1. BREAKING THE ICE
The Panthers are one of the best teams in the league when scoring first.
When they don't, however, it's been tough to claw back into games recently.
With tonight's loss, they're now 6-18-4 when falling into a 1-0 hole this season. On the flip side, they own an incredible 24-3-2 record when they're the ones that break the ice. Since the All-Star break, they've scored first in just two of eight contests, registering a 2-5-1 record in that span.
"Obviously scoring first certainly puts you in a good place," Quenneville said.
In the 10 games prior to the break, Florida scored first in eight games, winning all of them.
"Everybody wants to start well, but other teams are going to play better, too," Barkov said. "There's 20-something games left and everybody's battling for playoff spots. That's the way they're going to play. We've got to match that and play even better."
2. HUBERDEAU NETS NUMBER 20
Huberdeau gave the Panthers some life with this goal.
Gliding down from top of the right circle toward the goal line, Huberdeau took a slick cross-ice pass from MacKenzie Weegar, who threaded the puck the puck through heavy traffic, before sending a wrist shot past Hart to cut Florida's deficit to 4-1 just 33 seconds into the third period.
Video: PHI@FLA: Huberdeau rips shot past Hart
A 2020 NHL All-Star, Jonathan Huberdeau leads the Panthers and ranks tied for ninth in the league with 69 points (20 goals, 49 assists). And with his goal tonight, the 26-year-old winger reached the 20-goal plateau for the third consecutive season and fourth time in his career.
Huberdeau led the Panthers with four shots against the Flyers.
3. BARKOV TIES BURE
After Huberdeau got the Panthers on the board, Barkov quickly followed suit.
Taking a cross-ice pass from Keith Yandle, Barkov buried a top-shelf wrist shot that flew straight over Hart's shoulder and into the twine to trim Florida's deficit to 4-2 at 4:56 of the third period.
Video: PHI@FLA: Barkov roofs shot from circle
"We've just got to play the right way," Barkov said. "We've got to start on time."
Ranking second on the Panthers in scoring with 56 points (17 goals, 39 points), Barkov also reached a major milestone on the play. By netting the 152nd goal of his career, the 24-year-old center moved into a tie with Hall of Famer Pavel Bure for the third-most in franchise history.
4. THE HUNT CONTINUES
Despite their loss, the Panthers got a little help in the standings tonight.
Thanks to the Dallas beating Toronto 3-2, the Panthers (30-21-6) remain just two points behind the Maple Leafs (30-20-8) for third place in the Atlantic Division with one game also still in hand. Of Florida's final 25 games, two will come against Toronto (Feb. 27 and March 23).
"We have 25 games here and we've proven that we can play at a high level," Connolly said. "Now it's just a matter if we want it or not. It's not good enough right now. It's going to take the guys in here to do it. We have the guys to turn it around. It's going to take a lot more from every guy, myself include. We'll keep working and try to turn this around here quickly."
5. A SIGNIFICANT SHOWDOWN
Like Connolly said, the Panthers know they need to start picking up points again.
Their next opportunity will come on Saturday, when they close out their two-game homestand with a matchup against the Oilers at 4 p.m. ET at BB&T Center. In their only previous meeting this season, Florida's offense absolutely erupted during a 6-2 win in Edmonton back on Oct. 27.
"We've got to forget about this game and move forward," Barkov said of the impending matchup. "Saturday, we've got to come out hard and on time, starting in the first period."
The Oilers will be without Connor McDavid in the matchup, as the superstar center is expected to miss 2-3 weeks after suffering a quad injury on Feb. 8 in a 3-2 win over Nashville. Still, the 23-year-old currently ranks tied for second in the league with 81 points (30 goals, 51 assists).
The Panthers own a 16-11-2 record at home this season.