Flyers’ offense takes night off in loss to Florida

Felix Sandstrom

PHILADELPHIA – There was bound to be a bit of an emotional letdown by the Flyers after Saturday’s showcase win over the Boston Bruins and it translated onto the scoreboard Sunday night.

The Florida Panthers, winless in their previous four games (0-3-1, tying their season’s longest skid) stopped off at the Wells Fargo Center and skated away with a 4-1 victory.

The Flyers had beaten Florida in two previous meetings this season, both games played in the Sunshine State.

With Washington beating Winnipeg, the Flyers’ hold on third place in the Metropolitan Division has once again been reduced to two points. The Flyers have 10 games left on their schedule; Washington 11. With 81 points, Philadelphia continues to hold a three-point lead over Detroit in the wild card chase.

Florida netminder Anthony Stolarz, a former Flyer, picked up the victory. The only goal he surrendered came on a power play (with a second one about to be called) at 12:54 of the third period with Bobby Brink doing the honors.

The Flyers held the Panthers to a season-low 15 shots.

Flyers starting goaltender Felix Sandstrom wasn’t quite as nimble in the net. He was not exactly sharp throughout much of the game.

Could long stretches of inactivity played into the problem?

“It was a different game for sure,” Sandstrom said. “I think we pushed them really hard but we didn’t get the goals. I need to keep us in it.”

Florida’s first and third goals were questionable at best.

“It was one of those days where it was ‘why’ and ‘how’ did that happen?” the goalie said. “I have to make sure I track them better so they bounce off me a little bit.”

At least the Flyers have been putting together some good third periods. This was the third straight game where they were quite competitive in the final 20 minutes.

“Yeah, I thought our third period was the best again,” Laughton said. “We started attacking them, ‘Stolie’ (Stolarz) played a good game. We had a couple on our sticks that probably could have gone in the net but didn’t. We’re in a dogfight, Washington wins today and we keep battling. We’re going to New York (Rangers on Tuesday), good team and we just keep grinding.”

Ryan Poehling couldn’t find fault with the Flyers’ efforts in the attack zone. Stolarz just had too many answers.

“I thought we got better as the game went on,” Poehling said. “We created more and more offense (a total of 33 shots) and we kept them away from our net. Give credit to their goalie. It’s a loss but I think it’s something we can build on.”

A power-play goal by Vladimir Tarasenko 55 seconds into the second period provided Florida with a 2-0 lead.

Tarasenko released a shot from just inside the right faceoff dot while the Flyers had two players in the penalty box to just one for Florida due to infractions which took place at the close of the first period.

The Flyers held the Panthers without a shot over a 12-minute stretch of the second period but couldn’t take advantage of the territorial advantage.

Florida got its first goal from a familiar source.

Seconds after hopping out of the penalty box, the Panthers’ Sam Reinhart gained control in the slot, took one stride and lifted a shot past Felix Sandstrom at 10:34 for his 49th goal of the season, moving him into second place behind Toronto’s Auston Matthews (58).

Reinhart also scored an empty-net goal with 1:12 to play for his 50th of the season.

Reinhart’s previous high for goals was 33 set in the 2021-22 season.

In the third period, Carter Verhaeghe scored at 4:43 to build a 3-0 lead.

>Short shots

Following a day off on Monday, the Flyers visit the Metro Division-leading New York Rangers on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. . .Cam Atkinson was scratched for a fourth straight game and fifth in the last seven. Denis Gurianov and defenseman Marc Staal were also scratched. . .Florida is now 30-1-5 when scoring first. . .Travis Konecny netted two goals in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Boston to give him 30 for the season, one off his career high set last season. But personal stats don’t mean much to Konecny right now. “Honestly, I try not to think about that,” he said. “It’s awesome, I’m happy but it’s just so important for us to stay focused on the end of the season. I think right now no one cares about their personal stuff.” . . .Brink ended a seven-game goal drought.

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About Wayne Fish 2472 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.