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Panthers Can't Pull Upset Twice in a Week, Lose 3-2 to Flyers


Last week, the defending Stanley Cup champions came to Fort Lauderdale for a days days of sun and fun, fell behind by three in the opening period and left South Florida with a loss.

The Panthers were hoping to pull the same trick on the reigning Eastern Conference champs. The Flyers obviously took note of what happened to the Blackhawks and decided not to let that happen to them.

Philadelphia did look a little hung over in the opening period Tuesday, yes, but woke up much sooner than the Blackhawks did and took care of business in a 3-2 victory over the Panthers in front of an announced 17,377 at BankAtlantic Center.

With the win, Philadelphia continued to control the top spot in the conference as it came into the night holding a one-point lead on the Capitals.

“I was proud of our effort,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. “They could have easily rolled over considering what we have. They're not doing that. Give them kudos for that. No one likes that we're not winning, but you can't say they're not giving the effort. That's all a coach can ask.''

The Panthers looked to jump on the Flyers – who pulled into town Sunday afternoon -- as they did the Blackhawks just a week ago. Against Chicago, the Panthers took a 3-0 lead by the first intermission but watched Chicago gather steam and dominate play for the final minute. The Hawks couldn't completely solve goalie Tomas Vokoun, however, as Florida held on for dear life and won 3-2.

Things were a touch different on Tuesday.

The Flyers took a 1-0 lead on a Scott Hartnell goal 4:28 into the game, although the Panthers battled back and took the lead going into the first intermission off a pair of unanswered goals. Stephen Weiss tied the score when he broke loose and fired a shot from the left circle that beat Brian Boucher less than three minutes after Philadelphia took the initial lead. Florida made it 2-1 with 1:59 left in the period as Dmitry Kulikov scored.

The good times wouldn't last. Just as Chicago did, the Flyers came out moving the puck and taking advantage of Florida mistakes in the second. The Flyers outshot Florida 18-8 in the second (Florida didn't even take eight shots in the final two periods against Chicago) and took advantage of Florida turnovers as they took a 3-2 lead into the second break.

Philadelphia tied the score 4:43 into the second when Jeff Carter got his first of the night by firing a shot at Vokoun. The shot hit the goalie in the glove but Vokoun couldn't handle it and it found its way to the back of the net. Later on, Carter and Danny Briere broke loose off a Florida turnover in the Flyers zone and came up the ice, Brier threading a pass to Carter as he picked up his second goal of the night.

“Every mistake is big,'' winger Niclas Bergfors said. “They have great players and you can't make mistakes against them. They have five or six guys with 60 points. They can make plays.''

The Panthers had a good opportunity to tie the score midway through the third when James Van Riemsdyk clipped Marty Reasoner on the bridge of the nose with a high stick, getting four minutes as a result. But Kulikov was called for hooking a minute later cutting into the extended power play. The Panthers took seven shots at Boucher in the third but couldn't tie it.

“We had a good start and caught a bad break. We could have had a couple more,'' Reasoner said. “It seems like the same little mistakes keep coming back to bite us. They capitalize and that's what good teams do. That's the difference in this league. We didn't do what they did.''