SUNRISE, Fla. – Speedy Radek Dvorak left the Philadelphia Flyers behind.
Dvorak broke a 2-2 tie with his second short-handed goal in two games, helping the Florida Panthers snap a four-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory Friday night.
“Unbelievable,” Florida centre Stephen Weiss said. “His speed is so lethal when he gets out there. If the defenceman bobbles the puck at the blue-line, he’s right on top of you ready to pounce. He’s got breakaway speed. He’s a big threat for us on the PK.”
With David Booth in the penalty box for tripping, Dvorak scored on a breakaway. He grabbed a loose puck in the neutral zone after Chris Pronger failed to keep a Florida clearing attempt in the offensive zone. With Simon Gagne chasing him, Dvorak managed to flip a short forehand shot that went off Emery’s stick.
“Obviously, I had a lucky bounce when Pronger couldn’t get the puck,” said Dvorak, who has a franchise-record 14 career short-handed goals. “I guess my speed (helped) and I saw Gagne was behind me. I just made a few, quick strides and I knew I had a little bit of time. It was like a broken play and it went in. I’m glad it did.”
Weiss, Nathan Horton and Steven Reinprecht also scored to help the Panthers (2-4) avoid the worst six-game start in franchise history.
The Panthers hadn’t won since beating Chicago in their opener in Finland and hadn’t played since a 3-2 loss at Tampa Bay on Monday.
“We knew as a group that we were getting better and that we were starting to play the way we need to play around here and we knew we’d get rewarded for it,” Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said. “It was nice to get rewarded for it tonight. We worked for that win, we earned it.”
Scott Clemmensen stopped 25 shots in his first start for Florida. Signed as a free agent in the off-season, he didn’t start after Feb. 18 last season with New Jersey.
“Nervous and kind of jumpy in the first period,” Clemmensen said. “I lost the puck a bunch of times. There were a lot of scrambling type situations that really didn’t bode too well for my first start. But as I settled down and calmed down and had more fun and relaxed, I played better and I felt more comfortable.”
Arron Asham and Claude Giroux scored for Philadelphia. The Flyers have lost three straight after starting the season 3-0. Ray Emery, who has started every game in goal for Philadelphia, made 23 saves.
“We’re creating a lot of offensive opportunities, but we’re not executing right now,” Flyers coach John Stevens said. “I think we need to simplify a little bit and get pucks to the net. Special teams are the difference. We don’t score on the power play. They score a power-play goal and a short-hander and it’s the difference in the game.”
The Flyers played for the first time since a 3-2 shootout loss to Anaheim on Saturday night. They spent most of the week in South Florida and had a boat race Tuesday and a deep-sea fishing tournament Wednesday.
Philadelphia led 2-1 until the final minute of the second period when Horton tipped Jordan Leopold’s shot from the point while standing in front of the net.
Giroux had given the Flyers the lead at 12:14 of the second when his wrist shot sneaked through between Clemmensen’s body and his left arm and barely crossed the goal-line before defenceman Keith Ballard swiped it away. The goal was confirmed after video review.
Asham opened the scoring 6:35 into the game after James van Riemsdyk stripped the puck from Weiss in the Florida zone. Asham grabbed the loose puck to the right of Clemmensen and beat him with a backhander to the short side.
Weiss redeemed himself by tying the game with a power-play goal at 6:49 of the second. He beat Emery with a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle.
“Maybe they didn’t have the best start, but remember last year we were 0-6 and we finished fifth in the standings,” Flyers wing Scott Hartnell said. “They got a hard-working group. They got a couple of lines that can really buzz.”
Notes: The worst six-game start in Florida history came in 2001-02 at 1-4-1. … C Dominic Moore made his debut for the Panthers. He signed as a free agent Oct. 5, but his arrival was delayed because of visa issues. … Florida coaches and staff members are wearing commemorative Hockey Fights Cancer to support cancer awareness. … Gagne, who scored 34 goals last season, remains scoreless in 2009-10. … Van Riemsdyk returned to the lineup after missing two games because of concussion symptoms.