Panthers take control in shootout, best Flyers for crucial victory
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- Aleksander Barkov came through in the shootout once again.
Barkov scored the winning goal in the tiebreaker to lift the Florida Panthers to a 5-4 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night.
Barkov is 5 for 6 in shootout attempts this year, including four deciding goals. His winner went between the pads of Steve Mason.
"I just wanted to score. Nothing fancy," Barkov said. "I scored last time when I shot 5-hole; now I had a lot of confidence to score that way again."
The Panthers improved to 7-3 in the shootout this season, the most such wins for any team in the NHL.
Reilly Smith had two goals in regulation, and Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau also scored for the Panthers. Roberto Luongo stopped 22 shots and Jaromir Jagr had two assists as Florida won its second straight after a three-game skid.
"We've been shooting a lot of pucks and every now and then they're going to find their way in. There's no real secret to it," Smith said.
Nick Bjugstad also scored in the shootout for the Panthers, and Luongo stopped attempts by both Sam Gagner and Nick Cousins.
The Panthers moved one point behind Boston in the Atlantic Division.
Shayne Gostisbehere, Michael Raffl, Ryan White and Cousins scored in regulation for the Flyers. Gagner had two assists and Mason made 25 saves as the Flyers lost for the first time in four games.
The Flyers are two points behind Pittsburgh for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Gostisbehere tied the score at 4-all with 1:55 left in regulation when his shot from the point got through traffic and found the back of the net.
Gostisbehere, who became the first player born and raised in South Florida to play in an NHL game with two appearances last season, played for the first time in the Panthers' arena, about 10 minutes from his home in Margate.
"It was awesome," Gostisbehere said. "Of course, we wanted a better result at the end but it was kind of a dream come true. You grow up watching all the games in this building and then go out there and score a goal. It's pretty cool."
Gostisbehere leads all rookie defensemen in scoring with 38 points.
"He's a guy that's been pretty important to our team," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "For him to come home, especially playing in front of friends and family for the first time, to be able to get an important goal, it's great for him."
Trailing 3-2, the Panthers scored twice in a span of 1:05 to take a 4-3 lead in the third.
The Panthers tied it on Barkov's power-play goal. Barkov shot from the left circle and it got past Mason at 8:24 of the third.
Smith's second goal came after he took a shot from the slot and put the Panthers ahead 4-3 at 9:29.
Raffl put the Flyers ahead 3-2 at 1:28 of the third. Evgeny Medvedev shot from above the left circle and Raffl deflected it by Luongo.
Smith gave the Panthers a 1-0 kead in the first as he grabbed a loose puck along the boards in the neutral zone, skated in and fired a shot from above the right circle that went over Mason's glove at 10:22.
Cousins tied for the Flyers later in the period. Gagner passed from behind the net to Cousins in front, who swept the puck past Luongo with 5:24 left in the first.
White gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead on a power-play goal with 6:44 left in the second. Gagner shot from the slot and it deflected off White's stick and into the net.
The Panthers tied it just 18 seconds later as Jagr fought off a defender near the net and dropped the puck to Huberdeau, who one-timed it into the net from inside the right circle. Huberdeau has two goals and three assists in three games since returning from a concussion. Jagr has recorded points in five of his last six games.
NOTES: The Panthers honored the 20th anniversary of its 1996 Stanley Cup Finals team. Former players Scott Mellanby, Brian Skrudland, and John Vanbiesbrouck took part in a ceremonial puck drop. ... Jagr played his 1,615th career game, tying him with Larry Murphy for eighth all-time in games played. ... F Jussi Jokinen has a career-high 10-game points streak. ... G Michal Neuvirth missed his fourth game with a stomach virus.