PHILADELPHIA – At this time of the NHL season, some teams get hot and make a mad sprint to the playoffs, running through opponents with the finish line being their singular focus.
The Panthers, however, should not be confused as one of those teams. Florida appears to be on a leisurely jog, enjoying the view without worrying about – or even acknowledging – the traffic all around them.
On Thursday, the Panthers got run over. Again. Philadelphia continued its march to the postseason by scoring three goals before the second intermission before winning 5-0 at Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers are moving toward the playoffs the way a team should, riding a full head of steam by winning six of their past eight. Florida? The Panthers have lost
seven of 11. Florida has lost three of four and have been outscored 17-5 during that 'run.'
“We make too many mistakes and you can't do that on the road,'' said defenseman Brian Campbell, who part of the 2010 Cup champion Blackhawks.
“Some games we're fine and others we come out and the mistakes are there and they snowball. We're not going to win this way on the road. We need to get back to the simple game-plan and go from there.''
One thing going the Panthers way is their geographical assignment in a malnourished Southeast Division. As the Flyers' Atlantic Division is ultra competitive with four of the five teams likely making the playoffs, the Southeast will be lucky to advance a team other than its champion. Florida, with 74 points, may lead the Southeast but would rank fifth in the Atlantic.
With Washington winning in overtime Thursday, five points separates fourth-place Tampa Bay and the Panthers in the battle for the Southeast.
“It's in black-and-white, in the papers every day,'' Campbell said. “We look at that, we hope. You see what Winnipeg is doing, Buffalo. They're winning games. It's going to go away pretty quick if we don't start winning games.''
Florida came out with a good amount of jump and hoped to sneak up on a Philadelphia team coming off Tuesday's emotional win over Detroit. The Panthers had a number of good chances against starter Ilya Bryzgalov, yet, as was the case all night, couldn't get anything through and rarely challenged after the opening 20 minutes.
Bryzgalov recorded his fourth shutout of the season as the Panthers have failed to score in seven games this season – including four in the past month.
“We have to find a way to score goals,'' Dineen said. “We can sit there and diddle around and try and find words, but we have to have a concerted effort to go and score goals.''
Philadelphia took the only lead it needed midway through the first when Brayden Schenn scored the first of two Flyers power play goals. The Flyers made it 2-0 when Matt Read banged a loose puck past Jose Theodore, then Scott Hartnell scored on a breakaway with 7:11 left in the second. Jaromir Jagr ended any hopes of a Florida comeback 2:35 into the third with Philadelphia rolling on a 5-on-3 chance.
The Flyers went 2-for-4 on the power play on Thursday with the Panthers scoreless in four tries.
Florida had two power play chances in close proximity during the first but looked punchless on both tries.
-- Tyson Strachan was the healthy scratched defenseman on Thursday as Erik Gudbranson returned to the lineup.
Forwards Marco Sturm and John Madden were both scratched for the fourth consecutive game.
When, Where: 7 p.m.; Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh
The series: Pittsburgh leads 37-31-4
The game: The Penguins, who have won two of three against the Panthers this season, will once again be without star Sidney Crosby as he's not scheduled to return until Sunday. Pittsburgh has done without Crosby, however, with wins in seven straight and eight of its past nine games. Florida is making its first trip back to the Steel City since the second game of the season.