SUNRISE, Fla. – David Booth wasted little time in settling a score, then helped the Florida Panthers snap their longest losing streak of the season.
David Booth had a goal and three assists and the Panthers snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 7-4 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night. Booth also fought in the first period with Flyers captain Mike Richards, whose open-ice hit in an Oct. 24 game caused a concussion that forced Booth to miss 45 games.
“I just wanted to get it off my chest,” Booth said. “It wasn’t cheap or anything. I just asked him if he wanted to. He didn’t have to give me my shot.”
This was the second meeting between the Panthers and Flyers since Booth’s injury, but the winger’s first.
When the teams met on Dec. 21, there were four fights, including one between Richards and Panthers captain Bryan McCabe.
The Booth-Richards fight came 2:45 into the game, but it already was the third of the game. Florida’s Gregory Campbell fought with Ian Laperriere three seconds into the game, and Florida’s Nick Tarnasky fought Arron Asham at five seconds.
“We came out physical and I think that’s why we won tonight,” Booth said. “We didn’t back down. The times we’ve done that this year we’ve won, so maybe that’s an identity we’ve got to establish. That was a fun game to play in, a lot of emotion.”
Michael Frolik scored twice for Florida, snapping a 16-game goal-less streak.
Steven Reinprecht, Jason Garrison and Stephen Weiss added goals for the Panthers, who also snapped a streak of 14 consecutive games with two goals or less.
McCabe had three assists and had an empty-net goal with 43.1 seconds left.
“Hopefully we got off the schneid here and we consistently give Voky (goaltender Tomas Vokoun) some goal support,” McCabe said. “God knows he’s been unbelievable for us this whole season, it’s about time we give him some goal support.”
Daniel Briere, Jeff Carter, Ville Leino and Ryan Parent scored for the Flyers, who had their five-game winning streak snapped. Defenceman Chris Pronger had two assists.
“It just didn’t seem like we got our legs under us,” Richards said. “We made a lot of mistakes we normally wouldn’t make, gave up a lot of odd-man rushes and they capitalized on their chances. We matched their physical presence, but we just weren’t there in the mind frame.”
Carter has scored in six consecutive games, tying New Jersey’s Zach Parise, Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos and Ottawa’s Jason Spezza for the longest streak this season.
Flyers goalie Michael Leighton, who came in with a 13-3-1 record since being claimed off waivers from Carolina in December, was pulled at 12:40 of the second period after Garrison’s goal made it 4-2.
Leighton gave up four goals on 26 shots.
“I gave up some goals at crucial times and it hurt us,” Leighton said.
Vokoun, who was given the night off Tuesday night at Atlanta after starting the Panthers’ previous 21 games and then playing for the Czech Republic in the Olympics, stopped 38 shots.
Booth, who had failed to score in his first seven games after returning from his injury, scored for the second consecutive night.
His goal was the first of three in a 36-second span in the second period.
With Florida leading 2-1, Booth scored when his slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle went through Leighton’s pads.
Carter scored on a power play 12 seconds later before Garrison restored Florida’s two-goal lead with his first NHL goal.
Garrison took a beautiful cross-ice pass from Shawn Matthias before slipping a wrist shot under Leighton’s glove.
“It’s obviously pretty exciting,” said Garrison, who was called up from the minors on Monday and was playing in his 21st career game. “It’s one of those things that you kind of wait for it, but as a defenceman you don’t really know when it’s going to come. I’m glad that’s over with and look forward to getting a couple more.”
Weiss added his team-leading 23rd goal at 15:01 with a wrist shot before Frolik scored on a rebound at 17:40 to make it 6-2.
Philadelphia scored a late goal in the second period but could only manage one goal in the third despite putting 20 shots on Vokoun.
“I’m worried about the way we played the game,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. “We played mindless hockey. You need to execute in your system, offensively and defensively, and we weren’t successful in either one.”
NOTES: Reinprecht’s goal was his first in 21 games. … The Flyers hadn’t given up more than two goals in any of their seven previous games. … Carter played in his 276th consecutive game, tying Bobby Clarke for third-longest streak in franchise history behind Rod Brind’Amour (484) and John LeClair (317). … Pronger’s first assist was the 500th of his NHL career.