Panthers rally in third period for 2-1 win over Flyers
By BILL WHITEHEAD
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) After a night when they produced very little, the Florida Panthers' top line clicked to spark a winning rally in the third period Saturday night.
Jonathan Huberdeau scored with 1:06 left and Florida came back in the final period for a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Florida mounted the winning rush when Keith Yandle sent a long stretch-pass to Evgenii Dadonov along the boards near the Florida offensive zone. Dadonov slid a pass back to Aleksander Barkov, who found Huberdeau skating in cross-ice on the back door for his 10th goal.
"Me and Barky were talking to each other and we were like, there's no way nothing is going to happen," Huberdeau said. "We had so many chances. Finally it happened at the end. We just stuck with it and it worked out for us."
The play wouldn't have started without a heads-up pass by Yandle, who saw Dadonov alone halfway down the ice.
"It was a great play by (Dadonov) stretching the zone and getting open. Those guys did their magic. It's what they do. They play big for us every night and find ways to win us games," Yandle said.
Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said it was a risky play by Florida, who improved to 5-0-3 in the second game of back-to-back contests.
"It started off, they got possession and went into a set breakout. When that happens, you have to get into your position. They just took off. And as soon as they took off, they fired it up the boards. ... It's a bit of a hope play by them," Gordon said.
Down 1-0, Florida's second-ranked power play finally put the Panthers on the board in the third period. Huberdeau slid a pass through the slot to Mike Hoffman, who buried his team-leading 18th goal at 13:16 to tie it at 1.
In Florida's 5-3 home loss on Friday to Montreal, the Panthers top line produced just one assist.
"I loved Barkov's line all game," Florida coach Bob Boughner said. "I think Dadonov had six or seven chances. But we didn't stop coming. We just kept bringing our game and putting pucks behind them. It was a big difference from last night's game and today's game."
Shayne Gostisbehere scored for the Flyers, who lost their second straight.
Just like the night before in a 5-3 home loss to Montreal, the Panthers fell behind in the opening minutes. Gostisbehere sent in his fifth goal after a pass from Jordan Weal on 3-on-2 rush at 1:45 of the first period.
Philadelphia killed 40 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play and the remaining 1:20 with the Panthers on the man advantage in the middle portion of the period.
Hart stood strong in the second period as the Panthers put nine shots on goal, with a few being good scoring chances. He stuffed Denis Malgin in the first minute after a slick drop-pass by defenseman Mike Matheson as he went behind the Flyers' goal.
The 20-year-old goalie denied Dadonov twice in a minute - once point-blank from the middle of the slot at 14:03, the other when the Russian forward circled behind Hart's goal and lifted a high shot from in close that Hart held.
NOTES: With Flyers third-line center Nolan Patrick (upper body) expected to be out the next four to five days, Weal centered a line between Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl after being out most of December. Weal, 26, had only played in two of the last 12 games. ... Scott Gordon is 3-2-1 since being named Philadelphia's interim coach on Dec. 17. ... Florida traded goaltender Michael Hutchinson to Toronto for a 2020 fifth-round draft pick. A free-agent acquisition, Hutchinson appeared in four games, logging a 1-1-2 record with a 4.18 goals against average and an .839 save percentage. ... Matheson played in his 200th NHL game.
Flyers: Visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday.
Panthers: Visit the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.
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Updated December 29, 2018