One day before NHL trade deadline, Flyers earn 10th win over top-10 team

By | March 8, 2024

One day before NHL trade deadline, Flyers earn 10th win over top-10 team originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

If the Flyers wanted to make things a little more difficult for Danny Briere at the NHL trade deadline, they did so on Thursday night.

John Tortorella’s club found a way to defeat the NHL-leading Panthers 2-1 at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Florida.

A day after placing a third defenseman on injured reserve and trading away another, the Flyers still eliminated the top team in the league.

Garnet Hathaway collected a rebound and flushed it for the winning goal with 21.3 seconds left.

Ryan Poehling scored the other goal for the Flyers (33-23-8), who never trailed in the game.

The Panthers (43-17-4) have lost just three times in their last 19 games. Two of those losses are to the Flyers, both 2-1 decisions at Amerant Bank Arena.

The Flyers will face Florida one more time on March 24 in Philadelphia. This is a month-long gauntlet for the Flyers. Eight of their 11 remaining games in March will be against teams with a playoff spot.

• One win won’t completely impact Briere before Friday’s trade deadline at 3:00 PM ET.

The Flyers are obviously not buyers. But wins like that might just make the general manager think a little more about whether he should sell another piece to replenish the club’s future.

On Wednesday, Briere traded Sean Walker to the Avalanche and signed Nick Seeler to a four-year contract extension. Now Scott Laughton is his biggest question ahead of the deadline.

Laughton should be in high demand for several reasons. The heart-and-soul Flyer had a valiant effort Thursday night. After missing Wednesday’s practice due to illness, he blocked a shot with five seconds left to clinch the Flyers’ win.

He is playing his best hockey of the season and gives the Flyers a very tough task.

• The Flyers, ranked third in the Metropolitan Division, entered Thursday with a 67.4 percent chance of making the postseason, according to Hockey-Reference.com’s probability report.

They fueled their surprising playoff push with a win over the Panthers. They now have 10 wins over top-10 teams.

“I don’t really think about measuring sticks,” Travis Konecny ​​said Wednesday. “I just think we’ve proven that we’re a good team. There’s no question of, ‘Should we be there? Shouldn’t we?’ It’s just that we’re a good team, let’s believe we are where we are for a reason, it doesn’t matter who we play.”

The Flyers had to make a big push to see the return of Konecny, who missed the previous six games due to an upper-body injury. The team’s top scorer was his active self in 18:25 minutes.

“He’s probably one of the greatest players we have, the way he’s played this year and all the situations we’ve put him in,” Tortorella said Wednesday. “He is greatly missed.”

• Samuel Ersson was outstanding, making 29 saves on 30 shots.

He stopped all 13 he faced in the first period.

After Poehling broke the ice just ten seconds into the second period, Gustav Forsling shot through traffic just over seven minutes later to tie Florida.

But that was all Ersson was willing to allow as he earned his second win over the Panthers in the last 31 days.

Since the bye week and All-Star break, the 24-year-old has gone 6-3-2 with a 2.36 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.

Florida netminder Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 24 of the Flyers’ 26 shots.

• The Flyers’ victory was particularly impressive considering how inexperienced the team was on defense.

With Walker traded and Seeler, Jamie Drysdale and Rasmus Ristolainen on injured reserve, four of the Flyers’ six defensemen in the lineup Thursday night were 24 or younger. Two of them, Ronnie Attard and Adam Ginning, made their season debut for the big club.

The Flyers played a tough game defensively, blocking 29 shots. That was without Seeler, the NHL’s leader in blocked shots.

The 30-year-old took himself from week to week. He suffered an injury on Monday when a shot hit him in the area of ​​his left ankle and foot.

“If I want to get back, it’s as soon as possible,” Seeler said Thursday in a Zoom news conference. “I shot in a tough spot. I hope to get back as soon as possible. I hate being outside.”

But he loved remaining an Airman.

“A four-year extension in a place you love so much,” Seeler said, “it means everything.”

• After Friday’s trade deadline, the Flyers face the Lightning on Saturday in Tampa Bay, Florida (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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