MIAMI (AP) — The Philadelphia Flyers took advantage of a matchup with one of the NHL’s lowliest clubs last time out and earned a needed win.
They’ll try to strengthen their grip on a playoff spot by beating another such team, the Florida Panthers, in Tuesday night’s opener to a three-game trip.
Philadelphia (40-29-9) was 1-4-2 over a seven-game stretch before Sunday’s 5-2 win over Buffalo. Brayden Schenn had a pair of goals to match his team’s scoring output from the previous three games.
The Flyers ended a season high-tying, four-game skid while staying two points ahead of Columbus for third place in the Metropolitan Division and out of the wild-card race.
“Every game is important right now. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing. You have to take every opponent the same way. You have to go out, play your game and play a full 60 minutes,” forward Matt Read said. “It was a good to get our confidence up a little bit but we’ve got a couple of games to find our full potential.”
Having dropped three straight on the road, Philadelphia plays its next two games in Florida before visiting Metropolitan Division champ Pittsburgh on Saturday. The Flyers’ last road win came in Pittsburgh on March 16.
The Panthers (28-43-8) snapped a five-game skid Sunday while hindering Dallas’ attempt to move closer to a playoff berth with a 3-2 victory, their second win in 10 contests. Florida scored the final three goals with Sean Bergenheim netting the tiebreaker with 4:31 remaining.
“We’re competitors,” goaltender Roberto Luongo said. “Anytime we step on the ice, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, you want to have that winning mindset.”
The Flyers have split their two games with the Panthers this season and had a five-game road win streak in the series snapped with a 3-1 defeat Nov. 25. Bergenheim scored two goals in that game.
Brayden Schenn and Braydon Coburn had a pair of early goals during a visit from Florida on Oct. 8, and Steve Mason made sure they were enough by stopping 33 shots in a 2-1 victory.
The Flyers’ Zac Rinaldo is facing a potential suspension for his hit to Buffalo defenseman Chad Ruhwedel’s head in the third period Sunday and may not be available.
“I had a lot of speed going at him. I put my shoulder down, and as he shot the puck my shoulder hit him clearly,” said Rinaldo, who is among the league leaders with 153 penalty minutes. “Proof is in the pudding right there. I shouldn’t have done it. There’s no need for it. We’re up 4-0, but it’s part of the game. 1/4n
“That always happens with me. I get on a good streak and then something bad always happens. I try not to think about it too much.”
Read’s six career goals against Florida – in eight games – are his second-most versus any opponent. He hasn’t scored, however, in this season’s matchups.
Florida’s Brandon Pirri has three goals and two assists during a four-game point streak. He’s never faced the Flyers.
Luongo stopped 20 shots in a 3-2 win over Philadelphia on Oct. 15 while with Vancouver. He’s 3-1-0 with a 2.27 goals-against average in his last four matchups.
Mason is 5-1-0 with a 1.48 GAA in six career meetings with the Panthers, suffering that loss at Florida in November.
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