PHILADELPHIA – Jonathan Huberdeau is getting quite comfortable in Philadelphia.
Huberdeau and Peter Mueller each had two goals to help the Florida Panthers snap a five-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Flyers on Thursday night.
Tomas Kopecky also scored for Florida, which was 0-2-3 since a 3-2 shootout victory in Philadelphia on Feb. 7. Scott Clemmensen, who backs up Jose Theodore, stopped 32 shots to earn his first win since April 7.
“We knew we won here last time, we knew we could do it, and we went out and played like it,” said Huberdeau, the 19-year-old rookie who scored the shootout winner against the Flyers earlier this month.
Luke Schenn and Jakub Voracek scored Philadelphia’s goals in the third period.
Back home after a six-game road trip, the Flyers came out flat one night after a wild 6-5 win at Pittsburgh.
“I’ve seen this happen a million times,” defenceman Kimmo Timonen said. “Coming off a road trip, the hardest game is the next one at home. It’s tough mentally.”
It didn’t help when they learned before the game that centre Matt Read will miss six weeks because he tore rib cage muscles when hit by the Penguins’ Chris Kunitz. Read leads Philadelphia with seven goals and is a key contributor on the power-play and penalty-kill units.
“He does everything for us,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “He’s a valuable piece to the puzzle.”
The Panthers, who came in with the third-fewest points in the NHL, quickly took advantage of Philadelphia’s emotional letdown. Mueller and Kopecky scored 29 seconds apart in the first period to give Florida a 2-0 lead.
Huberdeau set up the first goal by threading a give-and-go pass between two defenders to Mueller, who fired a shot over goalie Ilya Bryzgalov’s shoulder. A bad turnover by the Flyers then led to a breakaway for Kopecky, who wristed a shot past Bryzgalov.
“It was evident in the first 10 minutes that we weren’t as sharp, we weren’t as crisp as (Wednesday) night,” Laviolette said. “It would be an excuse if we say tough schedule, tough game. What goes around comes around.”
Things didn’t get better for the mercurial Bryzgalov after Laviolette called a timeout.
Huberdeau, who scored the winning goal against Bryzgalov in the shootout win two weeks ago, had a breakaway moments later. He got yanked down from behind by Timonen, setting up a penalty shot. Huberdeau scored on a nifty backhander to make it 3-0.
“I love being in a shootout, penalty-shot situation,” Huberdeau said. “They gave me the opportunity, very happy they have the confidence in me, and it was great to come through for the team.”
Bryzgalov wasn’t too happy after allowing the goal. While sitting on the ice, Bryzgalov tossed his stick over the net and off the glass. He didn’t get a reaction from teammates or the crowd.
Huberdeau ended Bryzgalov’s night midway through the second period when he scored a power-play goal to give Florida a 4-0 lead.
“I’m glad he’s on my team,” Clemmensen said of Huberdeau. “I see him in practice every day. I’m not surprised at all.”
Brian Boucher replaced Bryzgalov, who threw his stick down the tunnel after he left the ice.
Fans were so eager to cheer for something that they chanted “Boosh” after Florida’s Tomas Fleischmann missed the net on a breakaway shot.
Schenn snapped Clemmensen’s shutout bid with 6:08 left. After Mueller netted his second goal, Voracek scored his fourth in two games to cut the Flyers’ deficit to 5-2.
“Four points out of Philadelphia is not too shabby, and we walk out of the place still standing,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. “So that’s not always the way it’s worked here in Philly. A lot of atmosphere here, a lot of character, so it’s good to come in here and get some wins.”
Notes: The Flyers fell to 8-10-1 with their first loss in three games. … The Panthers won the season series 2-1 after losing 7-1 at home to the Flyers on Jan. 26. … Huberdeau recorded his second two-goal game. … Voracek has eight points in the last three games.