National Hockey League
Flyers-Panthers Preview
National Hockey League

Flyers-Panthers Preview

Updated Mar. 5, 2020 12:28 a.m. ET

The red-hot Philadelphia Flyers have done the Atlantic Division a couple of huge favors this week.

Still, they shouldn't expect any gratitude from the Florida Panthers.

Philadelphia has a chance to match its longest win streak of the season Saturday night when it visits the Panthers, who look to continue their home success.

There are few teams playing better right now than the Flyers (32-23-11), who beat Tampa Bay for the second time in five days with Friday's 3-1 victory. They have won three straight and six of seven to move into sole possession of ninth place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind Detroit for the second wild card.


After averaging 3.66 goals during a 5-1-0 homestand, Philadelphia reached three goals for the eighth time in 11 games. Sam Gagner, Matt Read and Brayden Schenn scored and Steve Mason turned aside 18 shots for his third consecutive win.

Schenn has been a key catalyst since the calendar turned to 2016, tallying 16 goals and 31 points in 30 games to rank among the NHL leaders in both categories during that span.

''I like what we're doing now,'' Schenn said. ''Everyone is buying in, playing their roles, doing their jobs, and it's resulting in wins.''

Making Philadelphia's run even more impressive is who is not involved. Even with second-leading scorer Jakub Voracek sidelined the last six games because of a lower-body injury, the offense has remained potent and the Flyers have held three straight opponents under 20 shots.

''It's been a great effort the last little while here,'' Mason said. ''Right now, we look like a strong hockey club out there. The guys look like they're overwhelming their opposition, which is great to see.''

Coach Dave Hakstol could stick with the locked-in Mason or go back to Michal Neuvirth for this game.

Mason is 15-17-8 with a 3.35 goals-against average in his career in the second of back to backs, while Neuvirth looks to rebound after allowing a season high-tying four goals in a 4-0 loss to Edmonton on March 3. Neuvirth made 31 saves in a 1-0 victory over the visiting Panthers (37-21-9) on Oct. 12.

The Flyers prevented the Lightning from picking up any ground in the crowded Atlantic race and Florida remained tied with them for second place, one point behind Boston.

First place had been a regular home for the Panthers this season before a 1-3-2 stretch dropped them from that perch. They ended a three-game skid with Thursday's 6-2 win over visiting Ottawa, as Jaromir Jagr scored twice and Vincent Trocheck had a goal and three assists.

"We just needed a little bit more confidence in here," Trocheck told the team's official website. "We're a young team. The confidence was a little bit down, so having a win like this, scoring that many goals, it definitely gets your confidence back up."

Jagr has scored 17 of his team-leading 23 goals at home, where Florida has points in six straight (4-0-2).

''It's a little bit easier at home,'' said Jagr, who has scored five times in his last three contests against Philadelphia. ''You've got your home fans kind of pushing you a little bit more.''

Jussi Jokinen added a goal and an assist Thursday, giving him two and nine during a nine-game point streak.

Roberto Luongo has limited the Flyers to one goal in each of his last three starts against them, including a season-opening 7-1 home victory Oct. 10.


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