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Taking a Break: Florida Panthers Tied with Caps in Points but Really 7th in East after 3-2 SO Loss to Flyers

FtlbeachFor a team that finished in dead last in the Eastern Division last season, the Panthers have plenty to be proud of heading into the All-Star break.

Their record in shootouts is not one of them.

Florida lost their sixth shootout and 11th overtime game of the season as Philadelphia's Claude Giroux was the only player to score as the Flyers left the BankAtlantic Center with a 3-2 win. 

The Panthers are just 3-6 in shootouts this season with two wins and all of the losses coming on home ice. Florida goes into its lengthy break tied in points with Washington for the Southeast Division lead but technically are seventh in the Eastern Conference.

“It was a close game but it ticks you off when you lose,'' said Kris Versteeg, whose assist on Tomas Fleischmann's second period goal tied the score. “We have to find ways to win those again. You can't be throwing away so many points. We have to find away.''

Florida took a 1-0 lead at 2:49 of the first when Mikael Samuelsson – playing backside on the power play – hit a slap shot from 50 feet out to beat Sergei Bobrovsky (23 saves). Later in the period, the Flyers got their lone power play chance when Erik Gudbranson went to the box for interference and a strange bounce off Scott Clemmensen's back went into the net. 

The play was reviewed as the goal cage came dislodged but Brayden Schenn's goal was deemed a good goal. The Flyers made it 2-1 late in the first when Jakub Voracek knocked in a nice pass from Tom Sestito.

In the second, Versteeg broke free on a breakaway but didn't shoot, instead backhanded a pass to Tomas Fleischmann. His spin-o-rama move pulled Bobrovsky out of the net and he was able to flip the puck into the empty net.

“Flash made a great play and put it in the net,'' Versteeg said.

Florida had a lot of chances in the third and in overtime, with Fleischmann hitting a post from 15 feet back with 6:08 left. Marcel Goc also missed out on a prime chance a few moments later. 

Clemmensen was sharp for much of the night, stopping 35 shots in his 65 minutes of work before the shootout began. 

“We go into the break feeling good because that was an honest effort,'' Clemmensen said. “We took a point out of this game. We're disappointed any time we lose but we played well. We'll come back. You want to win no matter what and you don't accept defeat. But this is nothing to panic about. They're a good team and we stuck with them. Anything can happen in a shootout''


The Panthers lost defenseman Dmitry Kulikov for at least the next six weeks after he underwent knee surgery Monday at Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables. Kulikov was injured during Florida's victory on Saturday in Winnipeg yet finished the game by playing eight shifts in the third and three in overtime.

"I think I just twisted it or hit it against the boards," Kulikov told NHL.com. "That aggravated it, made it worse. I was able to finish the game. I was getting worse and worse throughout the game. Afterward, on the plane, it was getting worse. The next day I couldn't even get downstairs at my house. I had to get it done." 

Said Dineen: “That's obviously a big loss for us. I wish his knee felt as good as his attitude. He's such an enthusiastic young man and has been a big part of what we've done this year.''

– Dineen said that no members of the Panthers have been asked to be replacements for the upcoming All-Star Game. The team's lone representative this weekend will be defenseman Brian Campbell.
“We're going to be well represented by Brian and we're excited for him,'' Dineen said. 

– The Panthers are now off for the All-Star break and won't be back together until Monday's afternoon practice in Coral Springs.