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5 Takeaways: Panthers Open Up Road Trip with Loss in Philadelphia

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

2/10/20 Post Game Interviews

2/10/20 Post Game Interviews

Interviews with Head Coach Joel Quenneville, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar

  • 00:55 •

Still looking to snap out of their post-break slump, the Florida Panthers opened up their two-game road trip with a 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Monday.

After winning six straight going into the break, Florida has gone 1-4-1 since coming out of it.

"There's nothing wrong with getting angry in the right way," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said when asked about what his team needs to get back on track. "Let's make sure we play with a purpose, but let's not be happy with what's going on here and do something about it."

MacKenzie Weegar opened the scoring for the Panthers after a puck bounced off a defender's skate and right onto his stick blade. With no hesitation, he locked, loaded and blasted the stray rubber past Carter Hart and into the back of the net to make it 1-0 at 3:07 of the opening period.

At 13:58, Ivan Provorov answered the Flyers, taking a pass from Matt Niskanen and sending a top-shelf snipe from the slot over Sergei Bobrovsky's outstretched glove to make it a 1-1 game.

In the second period, the Panthers had several good looks, but unfortunately it was the Flyers that did all of the lamp lighting. After James van Riemsdyk scored at 5:24 to make it 2-1, Travis Sanheim cashed in on a rebound in front with 42 seconds left in the middle frame to make it 3-1.

On the power play late in the waning minutes of the third period, the Panthers pulled their goalie in favor of the extra attacker to turn their 5-on-4 into a 6-on-4. But, after Jonathan Huberdeau nearly broke through, Claude Giroux scored an empty-netter to make it 4-1 with 1:09 left in regulation.

Bobrovsky stopped 30 of 33 shots, while Hart turned aside 30 of 31.

"At the end of the day, the result is all that matters," Bobrovsky said. "The guys, again, worked hard. We had a good effort. We have to find a way to eliminate some small mistakes and find a way to score one more than the opposing team."

Still right on the cusp of a playoff spot, the Panthers (29-20-6) currently trail the Toronto Maple Leafs (29-19-8) by just two points for third place in the Atlantic Division with one game in hand.

Florida will also look for some quick revenge when it hosts Philadelphia on Thursday in Sunrise.

"It's good to see them in a few days," Weegar said. "We'll take back our two points."

Here are five takeaways from Monday's loss in Philadelphia…

1. WEEGAR LIGHTS THE LAMP

Weegar is starting to settle back into his old routine.

Moving back up to the team's top-defensive pairing alongside Aaron Ekblad, Weegar opened the scoring tonight when he blasted home a heavy slap shot from near the center of the left circle past Hart to put the Panthers up 1-0 just 3:07 after the puck dropped in the first period.

Video: FLA@PHI: Weegar hammers slap shot home from circle

"I just wanted to come back in the lineup and help out as much as I can, come in and pick up where I let off," Weegar told FOX Sports Florida's Katie Gaus during the first intermission. "I'm glad I could put one in the back of the net."

Missing 16 of the last 18 games due to an injury, Weegar was playing some of the best hockey of his career prior to his extended absence. In 31 games played this season, the 26-year-old defenseman has recorded 13 points while averaging a career-high 19:16 of ice time per game.

Additionally, he also matched a career-high tonight with his fourth goal of the season.

"It's great to get the stats, but more important it's all about the two points," Weegar said. "That's all I care about."

2. BARKOV HITS 400

Chalk up another milestone for Aleksander Barkov.

With an assist on Weegar's opening tally, Barkov was credited with the 400th point of his NHL career, joining linemate Jonathan Huberdeau (427) and former Panthers captain Olli Jokinen (419) as one of only three players in franchise history to hit that mark in a Panthers sweater.

Tweet from @FlaPanthersPR: With an assist tonight at PHI, #FlaPanthers forward Aleksander Barkov recorded his 400th @NHL point. pic.twitter.com/Y8kQpMwWId

One of the league's premier two-way centers, Barkov ranks second on Florida in scoring with 55 points (16 goals, 39 assists) in 52 games this season. Additionally, the 24-year-old also sits first on the team in faceoff win percentage (54.4), which would be a career-high if it holds up.

Looking ahead, Barkov's next milestone will likely come with his next one. The next time he touches the twine, he'll match Pavel Bure for the third-most goals in franchise history (152).

3. BOBROVSKY'S MILESTONE

Bobrovsky reached some rarified air tonight.

By taking the ice in Philadelphia, the 31-year-old veteran became just the 75th goaltender in NHL history to compete in 500 career games. Of those contests, 83 came with Philadelphia (2010-12), 374 came with Columbus (2012-2019) and 43 came with Florida (2019-Present).

Tweet from @FlaPanthersPR: Tonight at PHI, Sergei Bobrovsky is playing in his 500th @NHL Game. pic.twitter.com/Z7JBiYsZY4

A Vezina Trophy winner in 2013 and 2017, Bobrovsky has enjoyed an illustrious career thus far, going 275-169-42 with a 2.53 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and 34 shutouts.

"He's one of the elite goalies of our game," Quenneville said earlier in the day. "He's had an amazing career. We think that experience that he brings our team is going to be important going down the stretch here. He's had some great runs in a few different places."

4. SPECIAL TEAMS BATTLE

The Panthers likely both loved and hated the special teams battle tonight.

Tied for the sixth-best power play in the league entering today's slate of games (23.4 percent), Florida went 0-for-5 while firing off six shots on the man advantage in Philadelphia. But, on the flip side, they also went a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill while surrendering just nine shots.

Showing a lot of fight when down a man, the Panthers actually had more than a few good looks while shorthanded. In addition to registering five shots on the penalty kill, they also recorded five scoring chances and a pair of high-danger shot attempts, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.

Overall, Florida's high-flying offense knows the floodgates are bound to open again soon.

"We have a great leadership group in here," Weegar said. "We have great guys in this room. We pick everybody up. We're not too worried about. We'll get scoring and finish off the right way here."

5. NEW JERSEY BOUND

It's time to look ahead to the next matchup.

Following tonight's loss, the Panthers will look to get back in the win column in a hurry when they wrap up a back-to-back set against the Devils at Prudential Center on Tuesday. In their previous meeting this season, Florida came from behind to win 6-4 in New Jersey on Oct. 14.

At 20-24-10, the Devils currently reside in last place in the Metropolitan Division.

"Let's go," Quenneville said. "We've got back-to-back game. We've got a busy schedule. The next month, we've got basically four games in a short amount of time every time week. You've got to be ready for the next one. But you can't look forward to the next one when you're playing this one. That's got to be the mindset."

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