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Carter Hart the Difference as Flyers Hold Off Panthers

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Florida defenseman Josh Mahura skates away from Scott Laughton during the second period. Mahura scored in the first period of Florida’s eventual 4-3 loss to the Flyers on Thursday night. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Almost from the drop of the puck Thursday night, the Florida Panthers were in the Philadelphia Flyers zone, throwing one shot after another at Carter Hart.

It is not often the first star of a game is a goalie who gave up three goals, but without Hart, the Flyers lose by a handful on Thursday.

Because of him, the Panthers headed home with a second consecutive loss.

Hart survived an absolute barrage of shots and chances from the Panthers, making 47 saves in a 4-3 win which sent Florida to 0-2 on this quick road trip.

“He made some big saves at key times,” John Tortorella said.

The Panthers are home Saturday against Ottawa before leaving on a four-game trip to California and Arizona.

Check out these Florida-heavy numbers courtesy of NaturalStatTrick.com:

  • Shots on Goal: 51-22
  • Shot Attempts: 104-39
  • Scoring Chances For: 51-14
  • High Danger Chances: 20-7

It was simply a dominant offensive performance from the Panthers — everywhere but the scoreboard.

And that’s where it counts, eh?

”Well, we had 104 shot opportunities and I don’t think I have ever seen that,’’ coach Paul Maurice said, who had Sasha Barkov and Matthew Tkachuk combine for 29 of those shot attempts.

”The story is their goalie. We missed some, but when you get that many on the net, I don’t think you can critique that much. We didn’t like our start in Chicago and our start (Thursday) was spectacular.

“We didn’t make too many mistakes, but when we did, they fell in the back of our net on pretty solid goals. I’m not blaming our goalie, he didn’t have a chance on two of them. We played hard and we played well. Not sure we’re playing better than that.”

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Florida appeared to be in control of the game from the start as it took an early lead on a Gus Forsling goal 3:41 in with Florida taking the first eight shots on goal of the night.

But on the third shot taken by the Flyers, Tony DeAngelo tied the score.

A little over nine minutes later, Philadelphia took its next shot: Scott Laughton tied it at 2 (Josh Mahura had given Florida the lead back) by scoring off a rebound.

”In 5-on-5, we were the better team but there were just a couple of breakdowns,” Carter Verhaeghe said. “We can’t give up that early lead in the NHL. They’re a good team as well. We had a ton of good chances.”

The second period was about as frustrating a 20 minutes the team has played this season — or at least since Tuesday night in Chicago.

The Flyers somehow scored twice in the second period despite Florida getting two power play chances and took a 4-2 lead into the third.

Florida got its third power play chance late in the second and finally took advantage 36 seconds into the third when Brandon Montour snapped Florida’s drought at 0-for-25 on the man advantage when got in front of the net and banged one past Hart.

The Panthers are now 3-for-37 on the power play this season with Montour scoring two of them, including the past two.

“There was a good goalie on the other side and we had bounces the whole third period,” Montour said. “We couldn’t get that last one.”

Now down 4-3, the Panthers sensed blood in the water and opened things up against Hart and the Flyers.

Hart, most definitely, was up for the task.

The Panthers spent the majority of the third period in the Flyers end of the ice and brought an all-out assault in the final minutes with Sergei Bobrovsky on the bench.

Hart was simply spectacular in the end when it counted most.

In the official boxscore, however, Hart was not one of the three stars of the night.

The Panthers would have to disagree with that.

“When you put that many pucks to the net, sometimes you have one of those,” Maurice said. “This is our test right now. We lost a couple in a row but that’s a fine game we played there. We should be proud of it.”

GR’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME

1. Carter Hart, Philadelphia

2. Brandon Montour, Florida

3. Joel Farabee, Philadelphia

PANTHERS ON DECK

OTTAWA SENATORS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Saturday, 4 p.m.
  • Where: FLA Live 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
  • Last season: Florida won 3-1
  • All-time regular season series: Ottawa leads 56-42-5, 3 ties

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