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Florida Panthers Stumble Out of Break, Look Listless in Loss

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Carter Verhaeghe is congratulated by his Florida teammates after scoring his 25th goal in the first period Tuesday night. That was the highlight of the game, as Philadelphia rallied for a 2-1 win in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers looked great at the start of their game Tuesday night, but as the night went along, they certainly played the role of a team coming off its extended All-Star break.

“We looked,’’ coach Paul Maurice said, “like we haven’t been out on the ice in about a week.”

The Panthers grew complacent after Carter Verhaeghe gave his team an early lead.

The Philadelphia Flyers took advantage and won 2-1, ending their five-game losing streak all while ending Florida’s four-game run.

The Flyers, it should be mentioned, were also coming off a similar break in play.

“I did not like our game and that we weren’t where we need to be,” Maurice said. 

“I’m not particularly worried about it, just didn’t like the way we played. I don’t feel we were well prepared. We played a good first, relative to the second and third which wasn’t good. But no one is being sent down, no one is getting cut.”

After Florida kept a lid on Philadelphia for most of the first period — leading 10-5 in shots, including Verhaeghe’s power-play goal — the Flyers jumped out of the gate in the second.

Quite the turnaround as Philadelphia had trailed 15-1 in shot attempts at one point with goalie Samuel Ersson (20 saves) keeping the Flyers in the fight.

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“I thought we played a good two periods,” Philadelphia coach John Tortorella said. “The last two periods, we played better. We were just watching them play. We needed to get back to our personality — and that was not it.”

In the second, Philadelphia took a 17-5 advantage in scoring chances and 5-2 in high-danger chances at even strength.

The Flyers cashed in with 6:27 to go in the period.

Travis Konecny found himself 1-on-1 with Anthony Stolarz after a quick flip pass by Sean Walker, and he slipped it past him to tie the score.

The Panthers could not get much going after that, and the eventual game-winner came from an error created while forcing the issue.

A flubbed breakout pass by Gus Forsling from deep in his zone bounced off the boards and right to Noah Cates, who cut to the front of the net and beat Stolarz with a quick move from his backhand 2:36 into the second.

From there?

Lights out.

The Panthers got just three shots on goal in the third — they had 17 scoring chances — as they searched for an answer which never came.

“They came out harder and played in our face,” Verhaeghe said.

“Credit to them. They’re a good team, and they’re in the playoffs for a reason. I think pucks were bouncing there, and the execution wasn’t our best.

“I think any time you take a week off in the middle of the season, your execution is slightly different. Maybe it’s good for our bodies to kind of heal for a little bit from the first half of the season, but anytime you go every day and then you take a week off, it takes a little bit to get back, but it’s no excuse. I think we still have to do a lot better and we have to clean some things up.”

Sam Reinhart had his career-high 13-game point streak end (14 goals, 18 points) which is tied for the second-longest streak in franchise history, behind Mike Hoffman (17 games in 2018).

— Florida’s paltry 21 shots on goal marked just the third time in the past two seasons it has posted 21 or fewer shots.

Matthew Tkachuk had his five-game scoring streak come to an end.

— Stolarz has allowed four goals in his past three starts; he has allowed two goals or fewer in seven of his past eight.

ON DECK

WASHINGTON CAPITALS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • This Season: At Washington: Panthers 4, Capitals 3 OT (Nov. 8). At Florida: Thursday; Feb. 24 
  • Last Season: Panthers won 3-0
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Washington leads 67-46-13, 9 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday vs. Colorado, 6 p.m.

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