Lower lines get job done in Flyers’ 6-2 win over Florida

James van Riemsdyk

SUNRISE, Fla. – Here is how the “unofficial’’ rating for goals by lower lines goes:

One (Good, a nice bonus).

Two (Excellent, the boys are pitching in).

Three (Holy cow, what did you guys have for lunch?)

Four (Are you kidding me? Get these people onto the power play!)

That was the case on Thursday night at the BB&T Center as the Flyers used their third and fourth lines to overpower the Florida Panthers, 6-2.

The Flyers struck early and often, with James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Pitlick and Nicolas Aube-Kubel striking against Sergei Bobrovsky.

That was enough to have coach Joel Quenneville pull the former Flyer netminder Sergei Bobrovsky for backup Sam Montembeault at the first intermission.

No matter. Scott Laughton scored with 1:02 left in the second.

And, oh, by the way, goaltender Carter Hart recorded his first win on the road since Nov. 10.

It was only Hart’s third road win of the year.

One key to the Flyers’ win: Just one penalty for the game.

That’s two wins in four days over Florida for Philadelphia. The Flyers beat the Panthers by a 4-1 score on Monday night in Philadelphia.

Getting that kind of production from the bottom six forwards had a big impact on this game.

“It makes us tough to play against when you have contributions from everyone,’’ van Riemsdyk said. “That’s what we’ve been getting recently, so it’s been good.’’

The Flyers got on the board just 4:24 into the game when Bobrovsky managed to block a Matt Niskanen shot but left a rebound for van Riemsdyk, who had a three-point night.

Pitlick’s goal led to Bobrovsky’s downfall. The right wing launched a shot from the right dot which beat the goalie on the short side at 17:37.

“It (lower-line production) is huge,’’ he said. “You need that down the stretch, the secondary scoring, so it’s good to get that going.’’

Aube-Kubel completed the onslaught in the period with an assist from Michael Raffl at 18:32.

A goal by Jonathan Huberdeau just 33 seconds into the third period spoiled Hart’s shutout bid.

Then things got a little tight as Aleksander Barkov scored at 4:56.

But Sean Couturier (not a lower liner) scored with 5:08 to play to give the Flyers some breathing room.

“Down the road, when you get to these types of games and playoffs, those guys (third and fourth lines) make the difference,’’ Couturier said. “They were huge tonight, they had a big game. They created a lot of momentum with their forecheck and being on the right side of the puck. They got us a few big goals there.

When Laughton scored, the Flyers pretty much went into defense mode. It was just a matter of hanging on to the lead.

“We’ve done a good job breaking pucks out of the zone, our defensemen have done a really good job and we’ve capitalized on our offensive opportunities when we had them,’’ Laughton explained at the second intermission.’’

Laughton now has 10 goals, which marks his third straight season with double-digit goals.

“JVR saw me coming down the slot and made a really good pass backdoor at the end of the period,’’ Laughton said, “and I just tried to get it off as quick as I could and I was fortunate to get one.”

As for getting four goals from the lower lines, Laughton acknowledged the contribution.

“It was a really good job in the first period of putting pucks there (on net) and making plays happen,’’ he said. “A lot of hard work with our fourth and third line. Got the job done.’’

Hart held the fort in the third, especially when the lead was cut to 4-2. He came up big on a point-blank shot from Evgenii Dadonov six minutes into the third.

Any load lifted off his shoulders with his first road win in three months?

“I didn’t know that,’’ he insisted. “There’s no difference than playing at home. It’s the same puck, same ice surface, same boards. . .it’s all the same. You just have to prepare the same.’’

Coach Alain Vigneault liked the way his team kept Florida off its game in the first two periods.

“We came out hard, executing, did a really good job defensively,’’ he said. “We knew they were going to have a push at the beginning of the third.

“It (lower-six scoring) was huge.’’



>Sanheim injured in second period


Defenseman Travis Sanheim suffered a lower-body injury late in the second period, tried to play one shift in the third, then called it a night. Vigneault said he had not spoken to Sanheim or the training staff and would have more information on Friday. . .Justin Braun had three assists.

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About Wayne Fish 2444 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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