SUNRISE, Fla. – Andreas Nodl made a difference at both ends of the ice for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Nodl and Mike Richards scored 65 seconds apart in the first while Nodl also made a save in the crease as the Eastern Conference-leading Flyers held on to beat the Florida Panthers 4-2 on Wednesday night.
Nodl’s goal snapped a 19-game drought for the third-year forward.
“It’s been a while,” he said. “I’ve been waiting.
“I think I’ve gotten a lot of chances and I finally got one.”
Just as important as his goal was his save, which helped preserve a 3-0 lead in the second.
Nodl kicked away Marty Reasoner’s rebound attempt with his skate. Although the play was reviewed, it was ruled that the puck didn’t completely cross the goal-line.
“I don’t know what I was doing in the crease,” Nodl said. “I just tried to kick it out with my skate, and luckily it didn’t cross the goal-line.”
Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said he was certain a goal should have been awarded.
“I’m at a loss,” DeBoer said. “You poll 100 people, show them that play, and 100 people would say that’s a goal, but Toronto says it isn’t.
“What are you going to do?”
James van Riemsdyk also scored for the Flyers, who improved their NHL-best road record to 19-6-3. Daniel Briere had an empty-net goal and two assists.
Philadelphia rookie Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 32 shots, including breakaways by David Booth and Mike Santorelli. The Flyers have 81 points, seven more than Tampa Bay.
But the Flyers had to hold off the Panthers to get those two points, nearly blowing a 3-0 third-period lead. Philadelphia was outshot 19-9 in the period and the Panthers had several good scoring chances before Briere put the game away.
“Sometimes teams are going to come back,” Briere said. “You’re not always going to win 6-0 or 5-1.
“Sometimes they’re going to fight back, and that’s what these guys did. They were embarrassed and fought back and made it interesting in the third.”
Rostislav Olesz and Booth scored for the Panthers, who had won six-of-eight (6-1-1) at home against Philadelphia.
The Panthers, who beat San Jose 3-2 on Sunday, haven’t won consecutive games since a three-game streak from Jan. 11-15
“If we had played a solid first, it might have been a different game,” Florida forward Chris Higgins said. “We didn’t show up with our sharpest game in the first and it cost us.”
Tomas Vokoun, who was 3-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average in his previous three starts against Philadelphia, made 31 saves.
Richards opened the scoring 8:36 in when he took a pass from newly acquired Kris Versteeg and fired a quick wrist shot from the right circle. Versteeg, obtained this week in a trade with Toronto, recorded his first point with the Flyers.
Nodl made it 2-0 at 9:41 when he skated behind Vokoun and tipped in Briere’s pass from inside the right circle.
“It’s definitely a team that likes fast starts,” Higgins said. “They’ve got a lot of skill, so if you play on your heels, they make you look pretty stupid.
“They made some nice plays on the goals.”
Olesz spoiled Bobrovsky’s shutout bid with a power-play goal at 1:40 of the third. Olesz tipped Jason Garrison’s wrist shot from the point and put in his own rebound with a backhand.
Booth closed the gap to one goal when he picked off a pass just inside the Flyers blue-line, skated in and fired a wrist shot over Bobrovsky’s left shoulder.
“They definitely picked up their play a little bit, but we’ve got to be a lot better,” said van Riemsdyk. “That was good to jump out to a lead like that but we’ve got to be consistent for 60 minutes.”
NOTES—Panthers F Cory Stillman played in his 1,000th NHL game. He became the 262nd player to reach that milestone. Stillman also played his 600th and 900th career games against the Flyers. … F Scott Hartnell played in his 300th game with Philadelphia. … The Flyers are the only team in the NHL without a shutout this season. … The Flyers improved to 21-1 when leadingafter the first period. … Florida RW Steve Bernier missed the game after developing flu-like symptoms after he took part in the morning skate. … Vokoun passed Don Beaupre, who played 17 seasons with four teams, to move into 18th place on the NHL’s career saves list.