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Fans were throwing hats onto the ice early in the third period to pay tribute to Sam Reinhart, after they thought he got his third goal of the night.
Small problem: They were wrong. That goal wasn’t his.
Turns out, the hats just came early. Reinhart wound up getting the third goal after all, Carter Verhaeghe scored twice and the Florida Panthers pushed their winning streak to five games by beating the Philadelphia Flyers 6-3 on Thursday night.
“Just kind of delayed it a bit,” Reinhart said. “Nice to get the win at the end.”
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Florida Panthers center Sam Reinhart (13) celebrates his goal, assisted by left wing Jonathan Huberdeau (11), during the first period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Thursday, March 10, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)
Jonathan Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad each had four assists for Florida. Anthony Duclair also scored, and Aleksander Barkov had two assists for Florida, which tied a season best by scoring three times on the power play.
Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 34 shots for the Panthers, improving to 18-3-1 in his last 22 outings.
Huberdeau has 64 assists on the season, amending his own Florida single-season record. He had 62 in the 2018-19 season in 82 games; Thursday was his 58th game of this season.
Huberdeau had an open net at the end for an easy goal; instead, he shoved the puck to Reinhart for the hat trick.
“Before the shift, I told him, ‘If you’re open, I’m going to pass it to you,'” Huberdeau said. “It was great. He’s been playing so well this year.”
James van Riemsdyk, Cam Atkinson and Travis Konecny scored for the Flyers, who were bidding to match a season-best by winning three straight games. Carter Hart stopped 31 shots.
“I thought we played hard,” van Riemsdyk said. “Obviously, their power play — I don’t know if they had, what, two or three on that, and that’s a big part of their success. But I thought we played hard and responded in some situations.”
The Panthers toyed with the Flyers for the first 20 minutes, going up 4-0 with the final three goals coming in a span of 5:18. Both of Reinhart’s goals came off shots by Huberdeau — one was a redirection, the other was a blast that Hart saved but bounced into the air and ended up in the net after a baseball-style swing by Reinhart.
Verhaeghe’s goals were both from the right side of the high slot. It was the first time in nearly 22 years that two Panthers had multiple goals in the same period; on April 5, 2000, Ray Whitney and Ray Sheppard each had two in the second period of a 6-3 Florida win over Boston.
“Didn’t come out too great in the first,” Hart said. “They’re a good hockey team. We know that.”
But a big hit and bad outcome got Philadelphia going.
Philadelphia’s Scott Laughton carried the puck into the zone and got checked by Florida’s Petteri Lindbohm, a hard hit but one that looked clean and no penalty was called. Laughton wound up going into the boards and remained on the ice, obviously hurt. He wound up leaving the game with what the Flyers called a head injury and didn’t return.
Konecny went at Lindbohm — who was making his Panthers debut and his first NHL appearance since 2017 — after the play and both picked up fighting majors. That’s when the Flyers began hitting Florida where it hurt most, scoring three goals in a 10-minute span to get within 4-3. Konecny capped the flurry with 1:08 left in the second.
Duclair’s power-play score with 13:01 left gave Florida a two-goal lead again, and Reinhart got the empty-netter with 2:06 remaining.
“Still got a lot of hockey left,” Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette said. “Hopefully, the numbers will keep going the way they’re going.”
HITTING THE ROAD
Florida plays its next seven games on the road — over two trips. The Panthers open a four-game West swing Sunday at Los Angeles and move on to San Jose, Vegas and Anaheim. After six days off, a three-game, four-night Canadian swing awaits from March 24-27 at Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. The Panthers aren’t home again until facing Montreal on March 29.
NOTES: The four assists for Ekblad were a career best. Huberdeau has done it four times. … South Florida native Jonathan India, the reigning NL rookie of the year for the Cincinnati Reds, was in attendance — on the day that baseball struck a deal to end its lockout. … Verhaeghe has his second three-game goalscoring streak of the season, and Thursday marked his 100th regular season game with the Panthers. … Flyers captain Claude Giroux appeared in his 997th game, all with Philadelphia. He could get No. 1,000 next Thursday at home against Nashville. … Flyers D Keith Yandle, a former Florida blueliner, played in his 979th consecutive game to extend his NHL record.
Flyers: At Carolina on Saturday.
Panthers: At Los Angeles on Sunday night.