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PHILADELPHIA (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The Philadelphia Flyers and Florida Panthers completed their home-and-home set on Monday night and the two games couldn’t have been more different.
The Flyers got some payback on the Panthers with a 1-0 win at Wells Fargo Center.
Just two days ago, the Panthers bullied and embarrassed the Flyers in a 7-1 drubbing in Sunrise, Florida.
This time, the Flyers took care of business in their home opener.
In front of the rally-towel-waving Philly fans, a heated game unfolded — featuring two scrums and 30 penalty minutes — and lights-out goaltending.
In the end, a first-period goal by center Brayden Schenn was the difference, helping Philadelphia (1-1-1) notch win No. 1 under new head coach Dave Hakstol.
Following its seven-goal eruption Saturday, Florida (1-1-0) went quietly Monday, missing out on what would have been its first 2-0-0 start since 2005-06.
Replacing starting goalie Steve Mason, who was out of the lineup because of a personal family matter, backup goalie Michal Neuvirth (1-0-0) stymied the Panthers by making 31 saves for his eighth career shutout. The 27-year-old drew rousing applause with a pair of back-to-back saves late in the third to secure the win.
Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo (1-1-0), owner of 402 career wins, was a tough-luck loser, making 32 saves.
Last time out, Florida ambushed Philadelphia with four goals in a 6:46 span of the first, marking the second-fastest four goals ever allowed by Philadelphia. The quickest came in 1969.
But on Monday, the Flyers’ penalty kill, among the worst in the NHL last season at 27th, held the Panthers to 0-for-6 on the power play.
The Flyers ignited early momentum by killing a four-minute power play on a high-sticking penalty committed by left winger Michael Raffl just 1:17 into the game.
Moments after Philadelphia quelled Florida’s man advantage, the Flyers pounced when Brayden Schenn backhanded a pass in front past Luongo for the game’s first goal. First-year Flyers center Sam Gagner and defenseman Evgeny Medvedev assisted the score, as Medvedev found Schenn with a quick look off a rebound.
Philadelphia survived four penalties amassing 12 minutes in a testy first period that culminated in a last-minute scrum behind the Panthers’ net. Two Panthers — left winger Connor Brickley and defenseman Alex Petrovic — were charged with roughing, as was Flyers right winger Wayne Simmonds.
On its first power play, Florida kept Neuvirth under siege and forced him to make 10 saves in the opening period.
After tallying a goal and three assists in the season opener against Philadelphia, Panthers center Vincent Trocheck finished with just two shots, while ageless right winger Jaromir Jagr had just one shot following a two-goal effort.
With 6:14 remaining in the second period, the Flyers nearly made it 2-0 but Luongo made a save on center Claude Giroux’s wrist shot. As tension bubbled in front, another melee broke out, resulting in four-on-four hockey but little offensive opportunities.
NOTES: Flyers G Steve Mason did not start as he was out of the lineup because of a personal family matter. The Flyers do not believe Mason’s absence will be long term, but are unsure if he’ll be available Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks. Backup G Michal Neuvirth started in his place. … Prior to the game, Philadelphia called up G Jason LaBarbera from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley to back up Neuvirth. … Panthers C Rocco Grimaldi was assigned to AHL affiliate Portland on Monday. The 22-year-old played seven games last season and scored a goal. Florida drafted Grimaldi in the second round of the 2011 draft. He battled an ankle injury to start the season. … Flyers C Sam Gagner and D Radko Gudas made their team debuts in place of C R.J. Umberger and D Luke Schenn. Umberger is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, while Schenn was a healthy scratch as was C Vincent Lecavalier. … Panthers D Steven Kampfer, C Quinton Howden and D Dylan Olsen were all healthy scratches. Neither of the three has appeared in a game this season.
The Panthers face the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, October 13th at 7 p.m. You can hear every game on Sports Radio 560 WQAM, the radio home of the Florida Panthers.
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